University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository

University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository


Family Medicine


Elyse Watkins, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA


The purpose of this article is to investigate if paid maternity leave for six months can improve maternal mental health. Currently, the United States is one of the only developed countries that does not have a law for paid maternity leave, but has an increasing rate of poor maternal mental health. Methods: a literature review was conducted on the most recent articles that covered maternal mental health, postpartum depression, and maternity leave. Results: it was found that there is a benefit to having a longer maternity leave than what is currently offered in the United States. However, there is not enough research to recommend specific benefits that a mother should have. Conclusion: The rate of pregnant women with a depression diagnosis at delivery increased by seven times from 2000 to 2015, suggesting about one in eight women experience symptoms of postpartum depression.1 With the United States not having a specific law for paid maternity leave, the research available is limited and from other countries. There is a lot of research on breastfeeding and maternal mental health, however, there needs to be more research done on paid maternity leave and the benefits of extended maternity leave.


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