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It just became easier to be a mother in the Navy
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For woman in the U.S. Navy or Marines, having a baby just became a lot less burdensome. - photo by JJ Feinauer
Women in the U.S. Navy and Marines now have up to 18 weeks of paid maternity leave, according to The Associated Press, and some wonder if the extension might indicate changing tides in work-life balance in America.

As Think Progress' Bryce Covert reported last May, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus believes extending maternity leave might encourage more women to remain in the military.

"We need more women in the Navy and Marine Corps; not simply to have more women, but because a more diverse force is a stronger force," Mabus said in a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, according to Covert.

"Meaningful maternity leave when it matters most is one of the best ways that we can support the women who serve our county," Mabus said in a statement after the policy change was announced. "This flexibility is an investment in our people and our services, and a safeguard against losing skilled service members."

As Covert pointed out in his Think Progress article last May, the Navy already has six weeks of paid maternity, which is more guaranteed leave time than the average American.

"There is no national requirement that employees have access to paid family leave although three states have enacted their own programs," Covert wrote. "Just 12 percent of employees in the private sector get paid time off for the arrival of a new baby."

The announcement of the extension also came with news that on-base child care will be opening two hours earlier and closing two hours later than normal, according to the Navy Times. However, the Navy Times also reported extended paid leave does not apply to men or adoptive parents.