A new report published this week from the National Bureau of Economic Research found increasing a father’s work flexibility after a baby is born reduces the risk of the mother having physical postpartum health complications and also improves her mental health.

Workplace flexibility has long been key factor in improving postpartum outcomes but less has been known about how a father’s work hours flexibility influences outcomes.  The paper this week examined father’s work flexibility and the affect that it has on intra-household responsibilities and the effect that that flexibility has on maternal outcomes. 

The paper examined the effect that work flexibility has in the months immediately following childbirth. The authors found that a dad’s access to workplace flexibility improves maternal health. They modeled household demand for paternal presence at home in the context of a Swedish reform that granted new fathers more flexibility to take intermittent parental leave during the postpartum period.  

Increasing the father’s work hours flexibility reduces the risk of the mother experiencing physical postpartum health complications and improved her mental health. The abstract concludes that “Our results suggest that mothers bear the burden from a lack of workplace flexibility–not only directly through greater career costs of family formation, as previously documented–but also indirectly, as fathers’ inability to respond to domestic shocks exacerbates the maternal health costs of childbearing.”

Interesting research in the context of what kinds of public health policy interventions are effective at improving maternal postpartum health, don’t you think?