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Paid maternity leave Vs. Unpaid maternity leave and well-being of the child.

Abstract

Maternity policies have a significant effect on the maternal health of the mother and the child. This paper examines the effect of paid leave and unpaid leave to mothers after giving birth. The paper examines how possible introduction of possible paid leave to post-partum mothers could affect the well-being of both the mother and the child. In the United States, more than 80% of pregnant women are eligible for twelve weeks of unpaid leave after delivering babies. Only less than 8% of pregnant women in the private sector who enjoy paid maternity leave after giving birth. The paper will combine data from surveys done between the women enjoying paid leave and those who do not and analyze the differences in maternal health patterns between the two groups. Different research studies show that paid maternity leave benefits significantly contribute to maternal health. This means that post-partum mothers in the private sector who are enjoying paid maternity leave have better health compared to the majority who do not enjoy the benefits. Some of the common improvements in the health of the mothers that have been noted to be improved through paid maternity leave include blood pressure, BMI, mental health as well as increased health-promoting behaviors for both the mother and the baby. Mothers who do not have paid-leave are likely to have more health issues compared to those who enjoy paid maternal leave.

Background and significance

Across developed countries, there are substantial variations in maternity leave benefits. For instance, in England, some legislations guarantee mothers of paid maternity leave. In the united states, however, the Family and Medical leave of 1993 guarantees mothers of not less than twelve weeks of unpaid leave. Despite the recognition that there I need to provide the mothers with leave after giving birth, organizations are not compelled to pay mothers during the twelve-weeks leave. There are however few private companies that have recognized the need to provide mothers with paid maternity leave. There are other countries like Norway that have improved the benefits of mothers to providing a full year of paid leave. The differences in maternal policies show how the well-being of the mother and the child is affected by the policies implemented in the different countries. For instance, in the unites states, mothers are likely to have more health issues compared to those in Norway (Raute, 2017).

Methods and findings

The argument on the different maternal policies is argued from different perspectives. For instance, the united states argue that by providing unpaid maternity leave, companies are likely to employ mothers regardless of whether they are employed or not. Mothers from different developed countries were used for the studies. The issue that comes with paid maternity leave is the fact that organizations will be paying for services not offered. Despite the impacts of paid maternity leave policies on maternal health, companies are more concerned about their turnover than maternal health. Unpaid maternity leave is encouraged in some cases since it ensures that pregnant women are not discriminated against and can be employed.

Whereas maternity leave is aimed at giving the women time to recover from the childbirth, providing unpaid maternity leave to women could not provide them with the recovery intended. For instance, when a mother has given birth and will use the savings from her past to take care of the newborn and also pay the daily bills, it becomes hard when the mother might not have the resources at the time of birth. If the mother does not have the funds she may require to take care of the family at the time of birth, there are high chances that the mother will develop serious health problems such as high blood pressure, stress and even depression. This shows how unpaid maternity leave affects the well-being of the mother and the child. If the mother is not in good health condition especially the mental health state, she might not be able to provide the child with the support and care which might end up affecting the well-being of the child.

Unpaid maternity leave may prompt the mother to return to work immediately after giving birth. This will, therefore, deprive the child of the time to be with the mother. It will also negatively affect the mother especially if the job is stressful. On the other hand, returning to work may bring physic benefits that the mother might need after giving birth. This could improve the health of the mother but end up ruining the health of the child who might be spending less time with the mother.

To establish the effects of paid-maternal leave to unpaid maternal leaves, there is need to explore the health results data. Data from Norway shows that paid maternity leave did not crowd out the unpaid maternity-leave and also it did not significantly affect the maternal income. This, therefore, shows that the paid maternity leave is not based on the economics of it but rather on the desired outcome of maternal health. The impacts of paid maternity leave were visible in women who had done the same before the introduction of the paid maternity leave. This, therefore, shows that if the same were done in the united states, there would be more improvements in the unites states. Additional time at home provides the mothers with the time to take care or the children. To disadvantaged women who might not have planned for the baby but opted to keep, it might be hard since unpaid maternity leave would pose more health issues on the mother due to financial obligations that come with the child.

There are researchers who argue that it would be more beneficial to reduce the time of unpaid leave and make it paid leave for the mothers. This is because data has shown that more mothers who might not have the resources are negatively affected by the time they spend at home during the unpaid maternity leave. When a mother is not provided with paid maternity leave, there is a high likelihood that the mother will find for another job to take care of the child. As a result of working, the mothers time with the child is reduced which could also affect the breastfeeding patterns. Failure to adequately breastfeed a child not only affects the child but also the mother herself. This could lead to serious health complications such as breast and ovarian cancer.

Discussions

Post-partum depression is one of the common health issues that affect mothers with unpaid maternity leave. Providing a mother with time to look after the child while failing to give her access to finances will end up affecting the well-being of the mother. There is enough evidence that proves that providing mothers with paid maternity leave reduces stress and significantly contribute to the reduction in obstetric complications. When the mother is sure that after giving birth, she will not have financial challenges, there are high chances that she will also have a better time during her pregnancy since she will not have a lot of things to worry about. Labor is physically and emotional demanding, when the mother is only assured of unpaid leave, there is a high chance that her emotional state during pregnancy will not be stable thereby affecting her well-being and that of the child (Davidson, 2017).

In the United States, due to the maternity policies that only guarantees mothers of unpaid leave, many of them work until they are about to give birth. As a result, they enter labor when they are already exhausted which is also likely to lead to increased problems. The health and well-being of the mother does not start after giving birth. During the pregnancy, the mother has to be in good health conditions and mental state. This is not always the case where the mothers are not provided with paid maternity leave. For many women, they are forced to work long hours during pregnancy to earn money that they won’t have during the unpaid leave of 12 weeks.

Paid maternity leave is globally recognized as a means of providing essential benefits to both the mother and the child. Many countries have different maternal policies with different anticipations. For instance, in Australia, the government has a legislation that guarantees mothers of 18-month paid maternal leave. The difference in maternal health outcomes between the united states and Australia can be attributed to the maternal policies in the two nations. The benefits of paid maternity leave to the mother and babies can be assessed from a health perspective. For instance, providing paid maternity leave to mother gives them an opportunity to experience improved physical and mental health that comes with the leave. The leave enables the mother to focus on the health of the child and that of her own. In many cases, the mother focuses on the things that will improve the health of the child and that of her own. This is different from countries that only provide unpaid leave to mothers. Many are cases, where the mother will have to think of where to find finances to take care of her daily needs.

Paid leave also ensures that the mother can access better ante-natal and post-natal care. Mothers who do not have to worry about their jobs and finances have better chances of focusing on the appointments with the doctors to ensure the well-being of the child as opposed to mothers who don’t get paid during the time they are on leave. Post-natal care is crucial to the well-being of the mother and the child. For mothers being provided with paid maternity leave, the main focus is their health and the that of the children. Unlike unpaid mothers who have to come up with ways of generating income at times, mothers with paid maternity leave have more time with their children thereby strengthening the bond between the child and the mother. The bond between the mother and the child is very critical to the well-being of the mother and the child. It assists in brain development, social and the overall well-being of the child.

Paid leave also ensures that the family resources are not strained. The fact that the mother is paid during her maternity leave makes sure that the family will not have to worry about the shortage that would have come with lack of finances if the mother was not paid during the leave days. With the financial burden already sorted, the mothers have a chance to take care of children with intermittent health care needs. It gives a mother the peace of mind knowing that she can take care of her baby.

Paid maternity leave policies have significantly contributed to increase in breastfeeding in Australia and Norway compared to the united states. While the time for maternity leave is almost equal, mothers in the united states have to continue working other jobs to cater for their needs. As such the breastfeeding time for the mothers is reduced thereby affecting the health of the baby. Child physical and cognitive development is also improved when the mothers are being provided with paid maternity leave (Dahl, 2013). Comparing statistics from the united states and Australia, there are other health issues that are significantly reduced by providing mothers with paid maternity leave. Premature births, for instance, are reduced. This is because when mothers are not assured of pay during their time after delivery, they often work for more hours to make up for the finances that they want to access after delivery. The aspect of working more than they should contribute to many issues of premature births and small gestational ages (Albanesi, 2016).

Recent research studies have also shown that there are more C-sections, surgical complications, stress, post-natal depression in the united states than in Australia. When all the factors contributing to such health issues are analyzed, most of the cases were as a result of working long hours during pregnancy and after giving birth. On the issues of stress and post-natal depression, many mothers are forced to work before the twelve weeks have lapsed. This is because they might have to look for finances to take care of their needs.

Providing mothers with paid maternity leave also contributes to increased workforce retention and participation. This is because mothers will appreciate the places they have worked force years and wouldn’t have to worry about losing the jobs after giving birth. The aspect of providing mothers with paid maternity leave gives them job satisfaction and job security. Job security gives many mothers peace of mind reducing the chances of developing depression and stress (Paramonera, 2015). Although much of the policies on maternity leave are made based on the health outcomes of the mothers and the children, it also leads to a reduction in income equality. The fact that mothers are appreciated for the incredible work that they do outside their working stations increases the chances of promotions for women and income equality.

There are also benefits that the government can enjoy as well. Providing government workers with paid maternity leave will be a great way of motivating government workers and acting as an example to other employers in the country. The government spends billions of dollars on maternal healthcare. Despite the significant amount that is spent on maternal health care, the results are not as promising as those in Australia. The federal government n the united states does not provide its employees with paid maternity leave, this has been one of the factors that have contributed to the delayed reforms. Achieving the best level of maternal health does not necessarily require increased spending but also looking at other aspects. Australia and Norway, for instance, do not spend much money on paying mothers on leave as compared to the number of funds spent by the United States. This, therefore, shows that paying mothers during their maternal leave should not be an economic issue but rather a health-based outcome that will see an improvement in the maternal health of mothers.

A health study by Harvard University shows that providing mothers with paid maternity leave is not only good for their well being but also for the socio-economic well-being. The study noted that providing paid maternity leave facilitates breastfeeding among mothers and also reduces the risks of infection. When a mother has paid maternity leave, the main job is to take care of the baby as she recovers from childbirth. When the mother is not provided with such, it is highly likely that the baby will be fed with supplements as the mother is busy looking to make more money. It is recommended to breastfeed children exclusively for at least the first three months. If the mother is not guaranteed of paid maternity leave, there is a high likelihood that that will not be the case and therefore the well-being of the child is likely to be negatively affected.

The research also found out that countries with paid parental leave have lower mortality rates. It also found out that returning to work after taking the paid leave reduces the number of medical check-ups that one would need. It also reduces infant mortality rates. While all nations are working towards achieving no infant mortality rate, most of them have focused on capital-intensive methods which have less impact on the trend. One of the most important things is to ensure that the well being of the mothers is taken care of. This can be done through the provision of paid maternity leave to mothers. Whereas the united states have an infant mortality rate of 6%, countries like Australia that provide paid maternity leave has 2% mortality rate. The statistics, therefore, shows how importantly paid maternity leave is to the mothers and the benefits it poses to the mother and the child (Mills, 2017).

Conclusion

Paid maternity leave is no doubt very beneficial to the health of the mother and the child. Research from different institutions have shown how providing mothers with paid maternity leave could have a positive impact on the maternal health. For countries like the U.S which have not yet made the step of providing mothers with paid maternity leave, it would be a good thing to make sure that there is legislation that guarantees mothers with paid maternity leave. Paid maternity leave would significantly help in achieving the desired goals and objectives in maternal health. The country would also save a lot of funds that are spent on maternal healthcare that is as a result of poor maternal policies.

In conclusion, paid maternal leave has critical benefits for the mother and the child. There are many health benefits that mothers with paid maternity leave enjoy as opposed to those who are not paid. The development and well-being of a child in the first year will depend on the well-being and health of the mother. Paid maternity leave provides the mothers with benefits such as better access to post-natal care, mental health, and the overall well-being thereby improving the growth and development of the child during the first year.

References

Albanesi, S., Olivetti, C., & Centre for Economic Policy Research (Great Britain). (2016). Maternal health and the baby boom. London: Centre for Economic Policy Research.

Beck. K (2014). Paid parental leave: Support for parents with newborn children. Melbourne, Vic: Productivity Commission.

Dahl, G. B., & National Bureau of Economic Research. (2013). What is the case for paid maternity leave?. Cambridge, Mass: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Davidson, M. R., Ball, J., Bindler, R. M. G., & Cowen, K. J. (2017). Maternal & child nursing care.

McBryde, Y., Diaz, A., & Woo, M. (2017). Off to the Breast Start: Barriers to Exclusive Breastfeeding.

Mills, L. N. (2017). The limits of trust: The millennium development goals, maternal health, and health policy in the US.

Ponomareva, E. A., & Lehigh University. (2017). The Health and Labor Market Effects of Spouse Choice, Maternity Leave, and Parental Work. (Dissertation Abstracts International, 78-10.) Ann Arbor: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.

Raute, Anna Christina. (2017). Can Financial Incentives Reduce the Baby Gap? Evidence from a Reform in Maternity Leave Benefits. (Series: CESifo Working Paper; No.6652.) Munich: Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute (CESifo.

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