The first time I heard about mothers being allowed to take a break from work and get paid while doing this was years ago. I had a friend from France and she had a baby. I was surprised when she told me that she would be able to take time off from work to care for her new baby and still get paid while she was on leave.
I am from the U.S. and at that time paid maternity leave was a new idea. What made my friend's situation even more remarkable was the amount of time she was allowed to do this and still get paid. I think the time period was three years. I thought this was the greatest thing at the time, and I am glad that mothers and fathers in this country are able to have some time after a new baby now, even when there time off is not paid leave.
I know most people cannot afford to take much time off without the maturity leave pay, but it is still good to have the option of taking the time off and knowing that you will have a job when you return.