Sweden's parental leave laws have revolutionized the lives of moms.

It turns out mothers recover from childbirth faster when they don't have to go it alone. Shocker, right?

Anyone who's ever had a baby or has been around someone who's had a baby can tell you that new mothers need help. But sometimes it takes science to point out the obvious. There have been studies showing the importance of a newborn spending time with its father. It improves the health of the baby and strengthens the bond between baby and dad. But a new study found that having a co-parent on hand can make a big difference in how mom feels.




Parents in Sweden get 16 months paid time off when they have a baby. Both parents share that allotted time, and they can divide it as they see fit.

Researchers at Stanford University took a look at the effects of a change in Swedish parental leave. Up until 2012, parents couldn't take the time off at the same time, except for the first 10 days after the baby was born. Often, mothers would be left alone with their child for 14 months, and the father would be alone with the child for two.

But in 2012, the restriction was lifted, and the parent who didn't give birth is now allowed to take 30 days of time off while the parent who gave birth is taking their leave, too.

It ended up having a big impact. It turns out, when both parents are there, the health of the mother improves.

The researchers found that six months after postpartum, anti-anxiety prescriptions decreased by 26%, hospitalizations or visits to a specialist decreased by 14%, and antibiotic prescriptions decreased by 11%. That's not too shabby.


Women shouldn't be expected to pop out a baby, then get told, "Good luck with that!" as they're left alone to figure it all out. "A lot of focus has been on what we can do in the hospital immediately following childbirth, but less on mothers' home environment, which is where the vast majority of women spend most of their postpartum time," Maya Rossin-Slater, one of the researchers, said. "What we're saying is one important component of that home environment is the presence of the father or another adult caretaker."

The restriction was changed to encourage more early father-child bonding time because of how important it was. The fact that it ended up improving the mother's health was a pleasant surprise.

What's not a surprise? That the study recommends that more countries should offer familial leave the way they do in Sweden.

"While paid leave for new parents is nearly ubiquitous in most of the developed world (with the important exception of the United States), family care leave is much less common," the study says. "Our results suggest that the availability of such leave — which fathers could use to care for mothers in the immediate postpartum period — could have important and previously uncalculated benefits for families."

Of course, America might need to start with, you know, offering familial leave at all.


Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."