Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 63–73 | Cite as

Utilization of Pay-in Antenatal Leave Among Working Women in Southern California

  • Sylvia Guendelman
  • Michelle Pearl
  • Steve Graham
  • Veronica Angulo
  • Martin Kharrazi
Original Paper

Objectives: Examine antenatal leave arrangements among pregnant workers in California, and the occupational, demographic and well-being characteristics associated with leave taking. Unlike most states, California provides paid pregnancy leave up to 4 weeks antenatally and 6–8 weeks postnatally. Methods: Weighted data from postpartum telephone interviews conducted between July 2002 and November 2003 were analyzed for 1214 women participating in a case–control study of birth outcomes in Southern California. Eligible women worked at least 20 h/week during the first two trimesters of pregnancy or through the date of prenatal screening. The overall response rate was 73%. Results: Fifty-two percent of women took no leave, 32% took antenatal leave expecting to return to their job or employer sometime after giving birth, and 9% quit their jobs during pregnancy. For leave-takers with paid leave (69%), the state was the main source of pay (74%). Medical problems (52%) rather than maternity leave benefits (25%) were the most common stated reasons for taking leave. The strongest predictors of leave taking versus working through pregnancy were feeling stressed and tired (adjusted OR = 4.3, 95% CI [2.2–8.2]) and having young children (adjusted OR = 2.1, 95% CI [1.2–3.7]), followed by occupational factors (night shift, unfulfilling and inflexible work, short work tenure). Lack of employer-offered maternity leave benefits was associated with increased quitting relative to both leave taking and working through pregnancy. Conclusions: Maternity benefits influence quitting, but alone do not determine antenatal leave taking. Working pregnant women in California utilize leave cautiously and predominantly to cope with health problems, work dissatisfaction and fatigue.


maternity leave working women stress utilization of pay-in antenatal leave pregnancy 



Funding for this study was obtained from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (award #R40 MC00305-01). The senior author initially developed this paper during a residency at the Bellagio Conference and Study Center, Rockefeller Foundation. The authors thank Alan Hubbard for statistical consultation, and Lora Santiago and Judy Bolstad for clerical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvia Guendelman
    • 1
    • 4
  • Michelle Pearl
    • 2
  • Steve Graham
    • 2
  • Veronica Angulo
    • 1
  • Martin Kharrazi
    • 3
  1. 1.Maternal and Child Health Program, School of Public HealthUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Sequoia FoundationCalifornia Department of Health ServicesSacramentoUSA
  3. 3.Genetic Disease BranchCalifornia Department of Health ServicesSacramentoUSA
  4. 4.Professor Maternal and Child Health ProgramUniversity of CliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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