In the US, most states you do not receive any paid maternity leave. That's no money coming in shortly after giving birth. You are however guarenteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave. But most women don't take all 12 because they need an income.
In the UK, you get 52 weeks (a whole fraking year....*stink eye US govt*) of maternity leave, 39 weeks of which is paid. 39 weeks. What is that nearly 10 months? 9 months? I can't do math. You get paid to stay home for 9 months?
You see this is why the whole staying-at-home versus child care debate is so very hot in the US. We're one of the very few industrialized nations, super powers that does not protect women or the family in this manner.
There is something very very very screwed up about this and very very very wrong. In Slovakia, I could be at home with my two children and paid for it for this entire time.
I love my country, but man that stinks.