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Staying Home After Baby: Why Me?!

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Momlogic's Talitha: It's not that I am against staying home after I give birth to our baby, but the fact that our society still assumes that it's my job is backwards. Who's to say that I want to take on the new job of staying up all night, staying home during the day, and giving up my work for an uncertain amount of time? Have you asked me?

mother holding crying baby

It's 2009, and our economy is so far in the gutter it's not even funny. Lots of men have been let go from their jobs, leaving the women to bring home the bacon; women are returning to work sooner than they'd like to, post-baby; yet in most if not all cases, it's assumed that women will make the compromises and stay home for some period of time to take care of their newborn. I don't get it.

I know lots of you will get pissed off and say that I am lucky to be able to have a child and I shouldn't complain and all of that, but hear me out. I am not complaining. I'm simply asking why it is assumed, by everyone including the OB, a birthing teacher, friends, family, and my husband (most importantly), that I am to stay home? Why is it so ingrained in us that we don't sit down and question who should stay home, whose income we need, and what is the best choice for the entire family? Does the fact that a woman carries the baby for nine months automatically mean she should stay home afterwards, too? It makes no sense.

I would like to be asked: "Hey, are you OK with staying at home and giving up your job for X amount of months?" or "How do you feel about me going back to work after we return home from the hospital?" or "Do you want to stay at home?" What if I were to assume my husband was staying home after we have the baby, and I made plans to go back to work right after I recuperated physically? What if I were to casually announce this in our childbirth class? Do you think my husband would laugh? Yep. Do you think everyone would be shocked? Do you think my mother would think I was kidding? Yep.

It's annoying.

next: Gender Bias in Middle School??
16 comments so far | Post a comment now
april May 31, 2009, 8:27 AM

its sooo true im not coplaining that im a stay at home mom but everyone does just assume! weird but i like it!!

Sara May 31, 2009, 9:17 AM

Maybe it’s assumed because that is what’s most common or because really, it’s the best thing for the baby to be home with mom or dad instead of going off to daycare for the day. If the dad is the stay at home parent, great! I just think someone should stay home with their child. If a family truly cannot afford it though then of course going to daycare is better than starving!! I just think it’s sad how much parents who send their children to daycare miss. I run a daycare and it is so sad to think that I spend more waking hours with their child than the parents do, by far. I’m also the one who has seen most of their firsts (daycare won’t admit this to you because we don’t want you to feel bad). I think if a parent can afford it, then they should try to stay home. They grow up so quickly, enjoy that time while you have it.

jennifer May 31, 2009, 9:19 AM

hmmm….i know i will get flamed. but women have a biological instinct to be with their newborns. this is not a social construction. i, for one, assume that a mom would want to be home with her new baby. not to say that i expect her to be deliriously happy about it- but why would you want to leave your infant if you didn’t have to?

Nell May 31, 2009, 9:58 AM

Here is one possible answer: There is about to be a new human being in this world, and SOMEBODY has to care for it. Not saying it is politically correct, but USUALLY it is the mother. In addition to this, in this day and age (and since you seem like you have your head on straight) it was probably thought to be a planned pregnancy. Since being home with the mother is best for a newborn and has been the protocal since the beginning of time, people naturally assume this is all what you wanted.

Secret Mommy May 31, 2009, 4:43 PM

I agree with Jennifer in that I think there is a biological and innate reason for mothers to be the one doing the, well, “mothering” of a newborn or really any age child. Breastfeeding is also one reason many would probably assume the mother is staying home. Though I know a mother could pump and a baby could still be 100% breastfed, but why does “political correctness” have to extend to the domain of motherhood? I don’t understand why it would ever be “politically incorrect” (I hate that phrase) to assume a mother will stay home full time with her child…

(I know I’m extremely old-fashioned in my thinking and I came to these views after a rather lucrative career and having my first child at 36…it just seemed right for me and my family, I don’t presume to make statements for all families.)

Anonymous May 31, 2009, 5:11 PM

Ummm… What about recovering for yourself as well. You need to give your body some good healing time. You don’t just bounce back from having a baby. It is hard on your body.

anon May 31, 2009, 5:40 PM

You sound like you lack some maternal instincts. Maybe you could find a wolf to raise your baby.

twocents May 31, 2009, 7:26 PM

People are assuming that because THEY would want to stay home with a child. I just took 5 years off to stay at home with children—so I understand the issues about the job. That said—newborns are extremely delicate and helpless, plus due to weak immunity, they can get very sick in daycare (and are often left to cry due to physical limitations of holding one or maximum of two babies at a time).

Anonymous May 31, 2009, 8:40 PM

Women’s bodies need time to heal. Very few, if any, daycares will take an infant younger than 6 weeks old. These few weeks are a very important time for bonding with your baby. If a woman can’t give 6 weeks to their newborn because of their career…perhaps they need to rethink having a baby.

RachelAZ May 31, 2009, 11:13 PM

Do you mean you don’t like people to assume that you’ll take off 6-12 weeks to be with the baby? OR are you talking about longer periods of time? If you’re talking about longer than 12 weeks, I don’t think society assumes anything of the sort! Plenty of women only take off 12 or less weeks before returning to the job. And I don’t think it’s wrong for society to assume you would stay home for 6 weeks after baby because that’s what a mom should want to do! Is it easy? No, but if this is how you feel without even having the baby HERE yet you probably shouldn’t have gotten pregnant!

Cassandra  June 1, 2009, 12:42 PM

Wow, I think these comments just prove the author’s point. I applaud her for writing this piece, knowing full well that people tend to go off the rails when women step outside traditional gender expectations. I doubt seriously we’d be having this conversation if a father was writing about not wanting to stay home.

We mother, and nurture, in different ways, but heaven forbid a woman doesn’t display traditional maternal desires. Clearly that means she’s not fit to be a mother at all, right?? Now that’s backwards!

This is getting old June 1, 2009, 1:26 PM

ditto Cassandra

Bec Thomas June 2, 2009, 5:21 AM

Maybe you should have thought of these things before you got pregnant, you know the time when you carry a fetus in your body that will one day come out that will need to be taken care of and oddly enough it’s us females that have the equipment to take care of them… Like most other mamals actually.

Most women I’ve seen that didn’t diplay the “traditional” maternal desires were pretty bad mothers…

jackie June 2, 2009, 12:12 PM


A little harsh? Shes just being honest—i think she is right that people ASSUME women will stay home. Isn’t the dad just as importnat? “IT”S US FEMALES THAT HAVE THE EQUIPMNT TO TAKE CARE OF THE”—-HUH? You clearly aren’t getting it to put it like that, like a man isn’t equipped to take care of a baby? “most women i’ve seen that didn’t display the traditional maternal desires were pretty bad mothers”—WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM????

stephanie June 3, 2009, 4:12 PM

BSo, by your logic, Bec, if a woman formula feeds (thereby denying the proper use of her “equipment”), then she doesn’t need to stay at home, right?…

All the author is saying is this: that when a couple has a baby,nobody gets in the man’s face about his lack of “paternal instinct” for not wanting to be around his kid.

Seriously, I had no idea that I would encounter so much misogyny on this board!

Jenny Sue October 5, 2009, 1:15 PM

I think moms go back to work to feel like they’re contributing. While I know being at home with 3 kids is a full time job, it doesn’t pay anything financially. I had to come home from my teaching career after baby #2 was born. I’d always wanted to stay home but couldn’t afford to. When she was born, I couldn’t afford daycare anymore. So I found a home business and now I work from home with the 3 kids by my side. It’s an option for many—it fulfills that need to feel like you’re contributing. Maybe that’s all she feels…

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