Keep Busy on Bed rest
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!!!
Great News! “Former” Mama on Bedrest Parijat Deshpande and I are teaming up to bring you this month’s tele seminar, Bust Out of Your Bedrest Blues. As some of you may recall, Parijat is a clinical psychologist who specializes in dealing with the stress of infertility, high risk pregnancy, prematurity and family stress. A few weeks ago, she graciously joined me for an interview to describe her method for helping mamas deal with stress around high risk pregnancy and bed rest. Well, we both had tele seminars scheduled to address tips and techniques for dealing with Bedrest Blues. When we realized that we were both going to be talking about the same thing, we decided to come together and have one big open conversation.
So Mamas, join us for a frank and informative discussion and Bust out of Your Bedrest Blues!!
NOTE: This seminar will serve as the Third Thursday Teleseminar. The live tele seminar will be on Wednesday, March 18th, 2pm ET, 1pm CT and 11am PT. Click here to register and to receive call in information.
For those of you unable to attend the live tele seminar on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, the recorded tele seminar will be available on Thursday, March 19th. If you have a question and cannot attend the live tele seminar, or don’t want to submit your question live, feel free to submit your question to email@example.com and Parijat and I will answer your question during the call.
This is a unique opportunity to have two experts at your service to answer your questions about bed rest and the stress associated with bed rest. Don’t miss out! Submit your questions and join us on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 2pm ET, 1pm CT and 11 PT.
This winter has definitely been one for the books. Each time that I call my parents who live just outside of Boston, there is a similar refrain, “Will it ever end??”
Much of the United States has had a record breaking winter either because of freezing temperatures or because of record snow fall. Just when folks think they have seen the last, the mercury drops another few degrees or another 8-12 inches of snow falls.
When I speak with folks back home all they say is “Will this ever end? Will I ever be able to freely walk out of my home? Will the roads ever clear so that more than one care can pass at a time? When will life get back to “normal”?
Bedrest is like a long, cold, winter. It’s here and you really can’t do a thing about it, yet on the grand scheme of things, it’s really not that long at all! Think of it this way. If you and your baby each live to be 80 years old in your respective lives, out of that cumulative 160 years of living, bedrest will account for no more than about 20 weeks. Now I know that 20 weeks is a long time, especially when you are on bed rest, but when placed beside 80 or even 160 years, it’s but a blip in time. Perspective is everything!
Bedrest, like winter isn’t immediately going away, so what can you do to make it more comfortable?
1. Extra Comfort in Bed. I highly recommend a body pillow if you don’t already have one. I also recommend one of those cylinder pillows for under your knees/calves. These pillows properly positioned will provide your spine and hips with support to alleviate pressure and avoid bed sores and body aches.
2. Good Food. By this I don’t only mean tasty food, but nutritious food. It is soo easy to reach for candy and cookies and other snacks when you are “laying around doing nothing” (hardly). But pregnancy and Bedrest both actually alter your metabolism and you don’t want to overload your system. Pregnancy slows digestion so that your body can remove the maximum nutrients from foods for you and the baby. This often results in feeling bloated and sometimes constipation.
In terms of your overall metabolism, because you are not moving about, your cardiac (amount of blood your heart is pumping) output changes and you may note swelling in your hands and feet because the heart is not circulating your blood as efficiently as if you were moving about. So to offset these and other changes, it’s really important that you drink a lot of water to stay hydrated and to keep your body systems moving (especially heart and kidneys) and eat nutrient dense-but not calorically dense-foods. Lean cuts of meat, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains will nourish you and your growing baby.
3. Books, Magazines and Movies. You’ll have lots of time to catch up on your reading, so gather up all those books you’ve been meaning to read and have at it! Also, if you have a Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader, you can purchase and even rent e-books to pass the time. (Why not get your copy of “From Mamas to Mamas: The Essential Guide to Surviving Bedrest”? It’s available for immediate download on Amazon.com and has even more tips for Bedrest Success.)
If you are a member of Amazon Prime, you can also download movies, television series and other videos. Some require a small fee, yet many are free. If you don’t like the selection on Amazon.com, There is Netflix and Hulu as well as innumerable music websites.
4. Computer/Tablet. Today there is absolutely no reason to be completely isolated while on bed rest. There are numerous online communities (Join Us, Mamas on Bedrest on Facebook!!) as well as online websites with tools, tips and all the baby gear you could possibly want! Best of all, with a few simple key strokes, you are fully in the mix!
5. Phone A Friend. Your phone will most definitely be your friend and a major means of communication so be sure that it is within easy reach. Yes the internet is probably top contender for communication these days, what with SKYPE and FaceTime and other visual means of communication. However, there is still nothing better than hearing a loving voice on the other end of the line reminding you that you are loved and supported (especially if those folks are like my mom and not on line!).
Funny how the list of things that make for a Better Bedrest are also many of the same things that are making this winter bearable for my New England family! Winter will soon be over and so will Bedrest and come this spring, many of you will sit on your respective porches, decks and balconies, babies in arms, and marvel at the lovely flowers that poked through the once frozen ground. It really is amazing how life goes on!
Get even more tips on surviving Bedrest in our e-book guide, “From Mamas to Mamas: The Essential Guide to Surviving Bedrest”.
How are you “weathering” Bedrest? What are YOUR essentials? Share in our comments section below