Bedrest and Business
Lately I have been bombarded with messages and e-mails from Mamas on Bedrest seeking for financial help. I hear you and I so wish that I could help. Unfortunately, Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond was never designed to provide financial assistance to families in need.
This is not a new issue. Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond has been a staunch advocate of paid family and maternity leave since its inception. We have traveled to the halls of congress with other family leave proponents to petition legislators to pass a paid family leave bill without success. To date, The National Partnership of Women and Families, MomsRising and others continue to press for paid leave, and while we have gotten close, there still remains no uniform, national paid family leave for new parents. Thus the United States has the dubious distinction of being the only industrialized nation on the planet not to offer paid family/maternity leave to its citizens. In terms of countries with medical leave benefits, we rank approximately 168th out of 172 nations that offer medical leave benefits. The only other countries without paid leave policies are Lesotho, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea. Thus the United States, one of the richest nations on the planet, the nation that spends more for health care than any other nation on the planet continues to have birth outcomes and overall health outcomes that rival those of developing nations without technological resources. It is a sad state indeed.
The Family Medical Leave Act is the best that we have and that has its restrictions. Passed in 1993, FMLA allows an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a family member or for the employee to undergo treatment for illness and continue to have healthcare coverage during this time as an employee benefit. But there are some caveats. First, FMLA does not apply if you work for a small company with less that 50 employees. For companies larger than 50 employees or electing to enact FMLA, if an employee is out beyond the 12 weeks, the employers is not obligated to keep them as employees and many people have lost their jobs due to prolonged illness and absence. Additionally, while employers may be required to keep you on as an employee, they are not required to keep you in your same position or at your same salary. So after your leave, you may return to your place of employment but not to your same position.
Some individual companies have elected to offer their employees paid medical leave. This is a very individual decision and one that is not at all regulated. If your employer offers a paid leave benefit, you need to contact the human resources office to see what the rules and stipulations are regarding the paid leave. You will want to ask if there is a minimum amount of time you have had to be with the company in order to be eligible for the benefit as well as ask if you have to be a full time, salaried/exempt employee.
What else can Mamas on Bedrest do? How is a mama supposed to go on bedrest, rest, relax and calmly gestate her baby when she is filled with anxiety about her family’s finances? There are a few things that mamas can do that may help their financial situations. We offer these suggestions:
- Learn the laws and regulations governing paid leave for your state. Three states, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, offer paid family and medical leave. All three states fund their programs through employee-paid payroll taxes and are administered through their respective disability programs. Other states and counties have various medical leave laws, so visit your state, county and local webpages to see what your area offers in the way of medical leave.
- Check with your state’s labor office. Some states have a disability program and take a portion out of your paycheck for this program. If this is the case, you may be eligible to apply for benefits. Often the benefit is a percentage of your pay, say 60%, but isn’t 60% of your salary better than nothing? These programs also have various rules and regulations so check with your state labor office for complete details and to learn how to apply if there is a program for which you are eligible.
- Speak with your employer. Some employers are willing to make allowances for your absence. In some cases, if you are able to work from home, they will set you up with equipment to continue working while on bedrest. In other situations you may be able to job-share; a co-worker covers for you now and you cover for them when you are able. Many employers are more amenable to being flexible than losing an employee and having to find and hire a replacement which actually represents a substantial cost to the employer.
- Consider Work from Home options. If you aren’t eligible for any sort of paid leave, your state/county doesn’t have a disability program and your employer/job won’t allow for you to work from home, you may want to consider work from home options. Some mamas have started businesses while on bedrest, working as virtual assistants, bookkeepers, medical transcriptionist and other jobs that have nominal equipment requirements and flexible hours. If you aren’t sure what types of work from home opportunities are available, I strongly suggest that you visit Theworkfromhomewoman.com. This website is run by my friend and colleague Holly Hannah and offers tips and advice for moms who want to find legitimate work from home opportunities.
I realize that adding to the stress of being placed on bedrest and worrying about how you are going to make ends meet you may not feel like looking for a job, but I have to say that many a mama has created a wonderful business out of her bedrest experience. (i.e. Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond, the Bedrest Concierge, The Sleep Whisperer just to name a few! Also, check out our podcasts! There are several mamas there who have taken their pregnancy/bedrest experiences and turned them into satisfying and profitable businesses!). While being placed on bedrest may not seem like an opportunity, it may in fact be the start of something wonderful for you! Check out your options. Look at the resources available to you. Ask those around you if there is something that you can do to pass the time that would help them. You may be surprised at what opportunities come your way!
If you have found a way to stay financially solvent while on bedrest, or if you have started a business while on bedrest, please share your story in our comments section below. You truly are an inspiration and other mamas will greatly benefit from your wisdom and savvy!!!
Today’s blog post is a bit different. A few months back I received an e-mail from a new entrepreneur, Rennard Watkins, asking if he could interview me for his podcast. At first I was surprised. Few men ask to interview me about Mamas on Bedrest. But because I like to help others out (as so many people have helped me get up and running!!) and I love ANY opportunity to speak about Mamas on Bedrest and raise awareness of what happens to women who have high risk pregnancies and the whole bed rest experience, I gladly accepted. I had forgotten the interview until I found an e-mail from Rennard and followed up. Lo and behold, here is the interview and I am sharing it with you all.
I will warn you up front, this has much more of a business/entrepreneur tone to it, so it is not exactly geared towards Mamas on Bedrest. But I wanted to share it with you to inspire some and encourage others to see what can become of your high risk pregnancy experience. When I was having my children, I was so stressed and so worried all the time and I just couldn’t find support and an outlet for all of my emotions. That is what moved me to start Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond, to be a place, an outlet for other mamas going through difficult pregnancies to find support, information and a community of people who know EXACTLY what she is going through. I also want to take a moment to encourage you to check out the work of other “former” Mamas on Bedrest who have taken their bed rest experiences and turned them into platforms from which to share experiences, expertise and support for other women.
Parijat Despande– Parijat was a “former” mama on bedrest and gave birth to a very early preemie. She is a psychologist by training and is utilizing her skills and expertise to support women going through difficult pregnancies as well as families and couples experiencing stress. Parijat is also the founder of MySahana, a mental health non-profit raising awareness about mental health issues in the Southern Asian community. Be sure to check out her website for fantastic information, resources and if you would like to take advantage of her expertise.
Jennifer Degl – Jennifer is also a “former” mama on bedrest who gave birth to a micro preemie. Jennifer chronicled her journey in a diary the day that she gave birth to her daughter, and that diary account has become a book called, “From Hope to Joy: A Memoir of a Mother’s Determination and Her Micro Preemie’s Struggle to Beat the Odds”. The book is available at Amazon.com as well as on Barnesandnoble.com. Check out Jennifer’s website for other information about being a preemie parent and preemie parent support information.
Rachel Blumenthal – Rachel chronicled her bedrest journey in her book “One Recumbent Mommy: A Humorous Encounter with Bedrest”. This is a wonderful read, and though told with humor, it shares some pertinent truths and tips about being on bed rest that mamas on hospital bed rest may want to note. Rachel also wrote a wonderful children’s book called “Wherever I am, I will love you still” which shares about bedrest from the perspective of her young son. This is a great book to get if you have young children as it gives a good description of what it is like for mommy to be away in the hospital and waiting for baby brother or sister to come. Both books are available on Rachel’s Website as well as on Amazon.com.
These are but a few of the examples of what has become of a bedrest experience. If you are a former Mama on Bedrest and a member of this community, and have turned your bed rest experience into a creative endeavor, please share your story. We would love to support you, cheer you on and be inspired by your work.
And now, here is the interview on, with Rennard Watkins! Please be so kind to go to iTunes after listening and share a comment. That will help Rennard’s online presence and boost his podcast ratings!! Thanks so much!