Mother’s honest LinkedIn post about maternity leave goes viral

‘I hoped that by sharing it with coworkers, they would feel more welcome to be honest about how they are doing’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 30 March 2021 22:17 BST
Related video: Easy Steps for a Guilt Free Return to Work After Having a Baby

A LinkedIn post by a mother of two has gone viral after she honestly depicted how difficult it was to return to work before she was ready after giving birth.

Rachael Larsen of Salt Lake City described the pressure to “suck it up” as her job is the main source of income for her family.

She shared a tearful selfie from four years ago, taken on her first day back at work after her second daughter was born.


Ms Larsen wrote: "It took me four years to have the courage to share this photo. Even now, it's hard to look at. The shame around raising a family and working full-time is real.

"I took this on my first day back to work after my second daughter was born. I wasn’t ready. My daughter wasn’t ready. She wasn’t sleeping and was extremely fussy.

"I woke up five times the night before to feed her. I was exhausted. As a majority income source for our family, I was forced to suck it up, put on a smile, and get back to work."

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The share of mothers who work has increased from 51 per cent to 72 per cent over the last 50 years, Pew Research reported in 2019.

Almost half of all households with two parents are homes where both of the parents work full time. Fathers are taking on more child care responsibilities than in the past as cultural changes have expanded fatherhood to more than simply being the breadwinner.

Despite this, the United States is the only country on a list of 41 nations that mandates no paid time off for new parents, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The shortest time of paid leave required among the 40 other nations is two months. Estonia tops the least with 86 weeks of paid parental leave.

Ms Larsen added in her post: "I know that I am extremely privileged. I was able to have some partial pay during my maternity leave and I was able to take 12 weeks off. I had a job that I loved at an amazing company with great bosses. I had a daycare facility that I could afford with great teachers I trusted.

She concluded by saying: "But… I was not ready. We need to do more to support parents and families. It may have taken me four years after I knew I’d never have another baby to share this photo. But, I’m glad that I have the courage to speak my truth now."

One commenter, Marta Tubielewicz, pointed out the "culture shock" she experienced on the issue when coming to the US: "Maternity leave in [the] US was one of the greatest cultural shocks I had to deal with. When I was pregnant with my first child, being here in [the] US, in Poland the new maternity law was just established giving women 8 months to 2 [years] paid time with their children.

"Fathers were also given paternity leave. I didn’t take a picture on my first day back to work after maternity leave, but it was one of the hardest days in my life ... without any exaggeration! Thank you for sharing!"

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Ms Larsen said: "I shared it on LinkedIn because that is where most of my professional connections are. At work, I'm known for having it together, but the truth is that sometimes I am barely holding it together.

"I hoped that by sharing it with coworkers, they would feel more welcome to be honest about how they are doing. I want everyone I work with to know that they have permission to not be okay all of the time. We are humans, not robots."

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