Stating that the announcement by the ministry is a sensible one, Saradha R, a mother said, “Since it helps the new mothers bond with their children, even though the baby was delivered by a surrogate mother, the leave will prove to be beneficial. The stress in understanding the needs of the child would only escalate for working mothers.”
However, she questioned the limitations of the same to merely women ‘government’ employees. “Maternal leave should be a right of every woman employee, who is a biological mother or a mother commissioning surrogacy,” she opined.
While maternity leave for mothers adopting babies already exists, some doctors state that granting leave for a woman commissioning surrogacy makes more sense. “In the case of a woman adopting a baby, she would probably be unsure of the exact dates. However, in this case, a woman knows exactly when the baby is due,” said Dr Shanti Ravindranath, a government hospital doctor.
“At the end of the day, the baby is theirs. The root of the baby does not matter. The mother still needs to create an emotional bond with her child, whether she is feeding the baby breast milk from a bank or artificial milk,” she stated, adding that cases are on the rise due to the availability of latest scientific technologies, awareness on the existence of the same, as well as social acceptance of this method.
While surrogacy is followed by many parents who are unable to conceive a child, some feel that granting leave to the woman commissioning surrogacy is unnecessary. “Why would a woman who has not delivered the child need leave? She has not undergone any stress or trauma in giving birth,” said Dr Sampath Kumari, member, Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI).