Pacifiers and blankets are nice, but having time to bond with your newborn is priceless. The newest trend in baby shower gifts is time. Instead of toys and clothes, people are donating vacation time to expecting moms.

With U.S. parental leave benefits ranking as some of the worst in the world, it’s not really surprising that expectant moms are being forced to get more creative when finding ways to take time off after the baby arrives. Some have turned to crowdfunding to help pay for time off, but the newest trend involves relying on the kindness of your coworkers.

As ABC News reports, in a growing trend coworkers are giving up their own vacation time to help others. In the example of Angela Hughes, the expectant mom was new to her company and worked hard to save up her vacation days until after the baby arrived. Unexpectedly however, her daughter decided to make an earlier appearance and was born two months early. Her coworkers, including her boss, banded together and gave up their own vacation days so that Hughes could take a combined eight weeks off.

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“It really, really meant a lot to me,” Hughes told ABC News. “I was very surprised because I had not been with the company very long. I was extremely appreciative and very humbled.”

Another mom-to-be, Jessie Sampson from Nebraska, benefitted from a new program that allows state employees to donate their vacation days for a coworker’s maternity leave. Thanks to the program and her very generous coworkers, Sampson, who works for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, was able to take 12 weeks of paid maternity leave when her second son was born.

While the generosity of these women’s coworkers is incredibly heartwarming, it’s unfortunate that it requires one person making a sacrifice for another in order to ensure that new moms are able to spend enough time bonding with their new babies.

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States is the only country among 41 industrialized nations that fails to require paid parental leave. While paid parental leave has increased among many U.S. companies, there is still a long road ahead for many, many other businesses to catch up.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: halahmoon via Flickr

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