Topic: All pregnant people deserve a law like New Zealand’s
Looking back, I cannot recall the exact time, or even the exact day, that I realized I was miscarrying my very-wanted pregnancy. All I remember is that I was at work, and politely excused myself to the bathroom to discover I was bleeding, which confirmed what the cramps and nausea were already telling me. I made an excuse to go home early and went straight to my OB-GYN, where she gave me an ultrasound, her condolences and sent me on my way.
I had just told my employer I was pregnant a few days, maybe a week, prior — a decision some friends had argued against for the very reason I was now experiencing. It’s hard enough telling your employer you’re pregnant; telling them that you’re not any more feels unimaginable.
I returned to my job the very next day, writing and editing stories about parenthood and newborns and healthy pregnancies as I bled into an oversized pad. I told myself I had been “only” 12 or so weeks pregnant, hardly a reason to make a “big deal” out of losing that pregnancy. I would soldier on, because I had to. Because what would it say to my employer or my colleagues about me if I couldn’t?
It would have been so different for me — as it would for so many others — if employers (or better yet, governments) sent workers the message directly: We know this happens. We’re here for you. You’re entitled to take time to care for yourself and your family.
New Zealand recently became the first country to offer bereaved women paid time off after a miscarriage or infant loss. Employees will be entitled to three days’ leave following a pregnancy under the law, which lawmakers unanimously approved and which is set to gain royal assent. This new measure immediately gained traction and started trending around the world. It’s crucial to talk more about why.
This revolutionary step forward is a sign of what could be if we, as a society, gained a better understanding of the needs of postpartum people, whether they’re post-infant loss, post-miscarriage, post-abortion or post live birth. This policy gives people what my partner and I did not have: the opportunity to heal — mentally, physically and emotionally — from a wanted pregnancy that did not end with a living infant and the expansion of our family.
Which is why this policy also makes me angry. It’s 2021 and still, still, it’s revolutionary to include those who suffer miscarriage and infant loss in discussions and policies that aim to support and care for postpartum people. I’m furious that for every other country on the globe, it seems that such a monumental policy is still out of reach.
Topic Discussed: All pregnant people deserve a law like New Zealand’s