14/08/2014 16:57 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Shared Parental Leave Is Good For Mothers' Health, Says Study

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Shared parental leave good for mum's health

Ever since plans for shared parental leave were announced by the Government, arguments have raged over whether or not the change will be good for women.

And now scientists have waded into the debate, as a recent review of studies found that government policies which allow both parents to take time off after a child is born are good for women's health - both physically and mentally.

Shared parental leave policies tend to reduce the physical and mental stress levels in women who, historically, held the majority of the burden childcare and household responsibilities, said study author Dr Patricia O'Campo.

"By having government policies implemented that require both parents to share parental leave, responsibilities like household and childcare duties tended to be more equally distributed between parents," said Dr. O'Campo. "This support had a positive impact on women's health in particular.

"Parental leave allows both parents to spend that quality time with their child without having to worry about who will pay the bills and whether each parent had a job to return to."

From April 2015 the existing 52 weeks of maternity leave (other than the first fortnight for a new mother's recovery) will be shared between the parents. Anyone taking total leave of six months or less over the period will be legally entitled to return to the same job.

More on Parentdish

* Shared parental leave: What's changing?

* Making the most of paternity leave

* Maternity leave: Your rights explained