Colette Fitzpatrick: Quit the cat fight, ladies. Why can't hubbie stay home with baby?

Colette Fitzpatrick

Somewhere the former French justice minister Rachida Dati is smugly feeding her toddler, thrilled that two other women are slinging baby poo at each other about when you should return to work after giving birth. It's called schadenfreude; when you delight in another's misfortune.

Rachida Dati went back to work five days after having her first child by caesarean section and was accused of falling into the 'Superwoman' trap.


The 'sanctimommies' said she was turning back the clock for women who'd feel pressurised to work until their waters broke at their desk and walk, or rather stagger and leak back into their job, just days after giving birth.

Now Denise Van Outen has called Natalie Cassidy a hypocrite for appearing on breakfast TV, just six weeks after giving birth, to promote a reality TV show that she's appearing in.

Natalie had originally criticised Denise for returning to work two weeks after giving birth, asking 'What have you had a child for? Having a child should be your job.'

Saucer of milk for Nat, please. The fact is that every woman's experience of having a baby and how much time they want or have to devote to him or her afterwards varies wildly, depending on the woman, the support she has, the baby, and her financial circumstances.

Of course working in the private sector is a whole different ball game to working in the public sector, where you're guaranteed full pay while on maternity leave and don't feel financial pressures to clock back in as soon as you can. Women who work in the private sector aren't autmatically entitled to full maternity pay. Needs must, and if you have to work to get paid, you may have to get back to work as soon as you think you and your baby can handle it, maybe even before either of you is ready.

It's not that you think having a baby is incidental, but valuing and understanding the privilege of motherhood and being able to have a baby doesn't pay the bills.


Women who don't take a pile of time off are not bad mothers. Many are better mothers because they double up on enthusiasm and involvement when they're with their children and can provide financially for their education and future.

What's so wrong with SAHDs (Stay At Home Dads) anyway? If you're the bigger earner, can't he bond with the baby? Can't he embrace this milestone too?

There are no prizes for getting back to work early. There are none for taking extended maternity leave or deciding to become a stay-at- home mum. True feminism means having a choice. Having a choice to stay at home or get back to work when it suits you and your baby.

Maybe in a land far into the future every woman will be guaranteed full maternity pay and be able to slot back into the job she has left without skipping a beat, so she won't have to make decisions she doesn't want to.

In the mean time, let's get less bitchy and catty about which of us made the right call and try giving each other a Supermom-size break.