How America Fails New Parents — and Their Babies | Jessica Shortall | TED Talks

We need women to work, and we need working women to have babies. So why is America one of the only countries in the world that offers no national paid leave to new working mothers? In this incisive talk, Jessica Shortall makes the impassioned case that the reality of new working motherhood in America is both hidden and horrible: millions of women, every year, are forced back to work within just weeks of giving birth. Her idea worth spreading: the time has come for us to recognize the economic, physical and psychological costs of our approach to working mothers and their babies, and to secure our economic future by providing paid leave to all working parents.

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33 thoughts on “How America Fails New Parents — and Their Babies | Jessica Shortall | TED Talks

  1. Being the son of a mother that worked while she was pregnant with me and even after she had me, I've seen many of her work places she balanced allot. That being said I do believe employers need to be forced to give proper paid time off. and offer work life balance. But that being said I need to address suicide and mental health, you have to address helping those most prone to commit suicide whenever talking about it. It is selfish, dangerous and wrong to take attention away from those that are most likely to commit suicide. 8:38

  2. This is from 3 years ago and things have gotten no better. This is a primary reason (of many reasons) why we have so many problems in our society today. Not having a stable parent figure for a child, and being able to afford to take the necessary time off results in children not being raised properly. This is a major societal problem that will lead to more and more downstream problems in our society as a whole.

  3. So how do we even start to make this change in America? What can the younger generation do now to ensure the future doesn’t continue this cycle?

  4. I am from slovakia (europe) having 3 years maternity paid leave. However, moms are paid 32 weeks 80% of their gross wage or max.1500eur. Rest if the time all mothers get 200eur that cant cover baby's or mother's monthly expenses. It is womens choice to stay or not whole 3 years at home. But most of them do stay as children need mom and if fathers are able to earn enough, this is a good choice. But to get those 80% of paid leave, woman must work at least 270 days in last 2 years

  5. America is a capitalist country. Business first , family last. Infant born daycare ASAP. Work 80 hours a week to afford daycare funds. In my moms day we had grand parents. The full time work week was 40 hours. Perhaps we need more insurance to pay for 100% birth control. The babies are raising themselves so to speak. We spread this value system of kids taking care of themselves around the world. If you are a white collar woman at a desk job you can afford childcare. If you are a blue collar labor mom like we are kids have to grow up fast and take care of themselves and there siblings. Sad for the next generation.

  6. It is sad that America chooses Capitalism over the health of children And the comments here. We Live in a economy where women Need to work and many men fail to do their job as father So single moms have to work. But children of working moms Need their moms as much!!

  7. TED moderators removed my previous comment; here I restate it, softly:

    Shortall’s proposed increase in government coercion is not a wise way to pursue better maternity and childcare.  Increased freedom for women and men to voluntarily associate to mutual benefit and virtue, would be.  
    Men pay more taxes than women do, and childbearing and breastfeeding women naturally and rightly consume more maternity resources than men do.  A good man is happy to provide for his wife and family in these and other regards, but bringing the State into sexual relationships subverts this: a woman has less reason to have children with a good man over a lousy one when the State will take resources largely from other productive men and give them to her; and a man’s attractiveness to women as a provider is taxed away, and along with it goes part of his incentive to improve and compete as better a potential mate.  

    We cannot achieve good, peaceful and loving maternity and parenting via force, and —as Washington is apocryphally quoted as saying— 'government is force'.

  8. The fact that doctors and medical staff are allowed to assault and batter women during childbirth with impunity from medical malpractice and the law in the USA is a large contributing factor to many of the issues touched upon in this speech (, search "women's rights, childbirth")

  9. this is why I'm so worried to have kids. my boyfriend and I have been working so diligently to get to where we are now. he still has an apprenticeship to work on and I still have to finish 3 more years of schooling, while I've already done 4. we plan on us both working…. then the child thing looms overhead and scares me shitless. my entire life has been based around wanting a career, not a child. so when I finally meet the man I plan my life with and plan on having children with… my career is in the way? how right is that?

  10. We as people have become slaves to our wants and needs. Freedom is expensive if your not willing to pay the price you won't see or understand it's true value. Why because were to busy silent and fearful to change.

  11. I thought this video would be about how new parents aren't budgeting correctly, or somethig outlandishly stupidly wrong that the new Parents are doing. different direction, though, still informative all the same, agree with why are the wages like this

  12. It is amazing what you can get people to believe when you rely on anecdotal evidence,
    appeals to emotion, cherry-picked data, and just outright lies. You
    can convince people that they have no choice but to work and have
    children simultaneously, because they aren't capable of making rational financial
    and family planning decisions, or that they can't help but have
    children without the means to support them. You could leave out the
    fact that literally millions of families around the world choose to
    have lower household income so that mothers can stay home longer with
    their children. You could try to claim that America's birth-rate is
    declining because we don't have government mandated paid maternity
    leave, but leave out the fact that our birthrate is consistently
    higher than that of every single economically comparable (i.e.
    European OECD nations) that does have paid maternity leave. You could
    also claim that the total fertility rate in America is 1.8 when in
    fact it has varied on average since 1990 between 1.8 and 2.4, but
    hasn't gone below 1.8 since the 70s, and is currently 2.0 not 1.8.
    And people will eat it up, because they stop recognizing logical and
    rhetorical fallacies when women and children are involved.

  13. she is right…only in America the most powerful and wealthy country in the world and still does not provide paid leave. Germany a mother gave birth will be allowed by law to stay home for 3yrs to take care the child with paid and her job position will still be there for. people said America the great…are you sure about that compare to the rest of the world.

  14. Thank the gods I waited to have my son so he wasn't the product of No Child Left Behind and had to show up like the ignorant and idiot youtube commenters who don't even have basic reasoning or comprehension skills.

  15. we don't need women to have more babies intellectual lightweight. experts have already predict predicted that we will not be able to keep up with water and food demands in the near future because of overpopulation. This lady is simply lying to people in this TED Talk. what are terrible Ted Talk, TED must be getting pretty desperate at this point.

  16. sounds like these people should get their lives together before they start having babies sounds like it's pretty much on them and nobody else's fault.

  17. weve got 7 billion ppl on earth and one of the most stupid education facilities ever, how about not getting 10 childs per family… get a better economy system first, then get babies…

  18. Everyone just seems to be pointing out the problem in the title but no one is pointing out that there is a problem in real life. Firstly, there is something some people keep overlooking, for most lower-middle class families, they need both adults to work to just afford a place to live in. Also, what if you're a single parent and can't afford a leave? What if you're a widow? Just get married again to some stranger so you don't end up on the streets? Secondly, pregnancy isn't a simple process. I'm just listening to all these stories like the one were that coworker opened the door when she was breastfeeding and I'm just like 'what?' For those people saying stop expecting your government to raise your child, you seem to be mistaking something. NO ONE is expecting a smiling caretaker to show up and give us a massage and feed us like we're in a nursing home.

    The problem is that some people need their job so they don't end up on the streets and they need help.The government exists to help us. We vote them in, we pay their bills with our taxes, the least we can expect is that we can get some rest if you have a f*ing hemorrhage because we gave birth. Also, is it wrong to expect that or own coworkers don't treat us like trash because we take a day off to give birth? For those who think a stable marriage is the answer, the problem is that if you take a leave, you get fired, and it's extremely difficult to get a job in this economy and most people don't get paid enough to support their own roof without both adults working.

    There IS a problem and I seriously wonder about those that are trying to justify it. And honestly, if the government isn't doing something, it's because no one seems to be really outraged about it, and that speaks volume about us as humans.

  19. Americans you know what to do. Vote for the man who will take on the corporate greed and corruption that stands in the way of the implementation of paid family leave. Vote for Bernie!!!

  20. We "need" women to work because US workers have been so emasculated by decades of anticommunist witchhunt that a single wage isn't enough to raise a family. What's more, US voters get what they vote for, they reap what they sow.

  21. I'm a little disappointed in the lack of educated arguments in the comments section of this video. I just spent the last 20 minutes weeding through crap to find a never-ending line of more crap waiting for me.

    FWIW I think this video has a place in the discussion of paid maternity leave here in the US. I have no children myself but I have sisters, cousins, friends and coworkers who have gone back to work with a little 6-week old baby at home or daycare. The parents end up taking a lot of time off of work to take care of sick babies or taking them in for checkups. As my coworkers come back into the workforce their minds are at home because their so exhausted from lack of sleep they find it hard to focus. Then I look at this little 2-month old, this tiny little baby, and wonder how anyone could leave so soon.

    I think parents should be given paid leave if only until the child is 12-weeks old.

  22. fake title to video.. another feminist propaganda video.. u feminist wanted to enter the workforce.. then complain when u cannot compete.

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