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Here's Why You Should Take Your Full Maternity Leave If You Just Had a Baby

A doctor explains the benefits of bonding with the baby and caring for yourself.

Hoda Kotb Maternity Leave

Hoda Kotb posted a bittersweet message to fans on Instagram, saying she had the best summer of her life with her two daughters while on maternity leave, but that she will be back on air for TODAY on Sept. 3. 

“I’m not going to lie, this probably has been the best summer of my entire life with these two kids, I’ve loved every second of it. But you know what else I’m going to love? Coming back to you guys,” said Kotb, who co-anchors both the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. hours as well as the 10 a.m. hour.

Kotb revealed she'd once again be waking up around 3 a.m. to get her work day started. 

In a call-in to Tuesday’s show, Kotb said she was excited to return. The morning host and her boyfriend, Joel Schiffman 55, adopted her second child, Hope Catherine, in April and are also parents to 2-year-old daughter Haley Joy, who Kotb adopted in February 2017.

Being a working mom comes with a ton of mixed emotions, and Kotb is no exception. 

Parenting expert Lyss Stern, CEO of Divamoms and author of Motherhood Is A B#tch has a lot to say say about new moms taking their maternity leave. 

"If you can take the entire maternity leave given then take it," she told Personal Space. "It's the best way to truly bond with your baby. Spend quality time with your baby. It’s a new experience for everyone and the mom also needs time. If you are breastfeeding this is also a great time to bond. You will truly recover properly, the body needs to rest. Hormones will also play a big part, I had two C-sections and I’m glad I took the time to properly recover. It’s a major operation that people forget about. And don't forget to sleep."

Dr. Nicole Avena, PhD., assistant professor of neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and author of What to Eat When You’re Pregnant, "highly" suggests taking full maternity leave if you have it. 

"If you have the ability to take a full maternity leave, I highly suggest you take it. Many women these days feel an unrealistic pressure to 'do it all,' and some feel pressure to go back to work too soon after having a baby," she said. "Taking time off to be with your newborn will allow you time to get used to having a baby (if it's your first), or juggling multiple children. It will also allow you time to focus on yourself and recovering from the delivery."

She explains that studies have shown that taking maternity leave from work can also reduce the development of postpartum depression.

"Research has shown that women with 3-month-old infants who worked full time reported feeling greater rates of depression, stress, poor health, and overall family stress compared to moms who were able to stay home because they weren’t working or were on maternity leave," Dr. Avena said. "Taking care of an infant is a full-time plus job, so minimizing other commitments and slowing adding them back into your life is a great way to ease back into normal life while minimizing stress."

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