It’s a sad commentary on this country when we have to introduce legislation in order for people to treat pregnant women kindly; give them a little extra help and make a few logistical allowances for them to be able to work and support themselves and their families while pregnant. Be that as it may, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has been introduced to congress and is supported by democratic senators and representatives as well as a whole host women’s advocacy groups, unions and business groups.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act works to ensure that pregnant women are not forced out of jobs unnecessarily or denied reasonable job modifications that would allow them to continue working. Currently, pregnant working women around the country are being denied simple adjustments – permission to use a stool while working a cash register, or to carry a bottle of water to stay hydrated, or temporary reassignment to lighter duty tasks – that would keep them working and supporting their families while maintaining healthy pregnancies. The bill will require that employers make reasonable adjustments while also barring employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Really?? You mean to tell me that if you are an employer and have an employee who is pregnant and a cashier, you can’t get her a stool? You’d rather fire her? Employers are unwilling to allow their employees to have water bottles to stay hydrated? (This is important for all employees, not just the pregnant ones!!) What type of country do we live in??
While I appreciate this legislation, I am saddened and sickened that it even has to be introduced. Where has simple human decency gone? Okay, let’s just put pregnancy aside for a moment. You mean to tell me that if you have a loyal employee who suddenly becomes stricken with a medical condition (either temporary or permanent) but who is committed to doing the job, you’d rather fire him or her rather than make some minor adjustments to their work environment? I completely understand if the employee is unable to perform most of the duties of the position, then it only makes sense to replace him/her. But in the case of a cashier, if you can provide a stool you’ll keep a trusted, productive employee! In a recent blog post, I related how the Center for American Progress estimates that if an employee makes $30,000 to $75,000 annually, it costs employers approximately 20% of an ex-employee’s annual salary to replace that person. If the employee makes less than $30,000 annually, then the cost to replace him/her is approximately 16% of the annual salary. And for highly paid executives, the costs to replace them skyrockets.
Isn’t it just easier to make a few adjustments?
Kinda makes me wonder, are we really talking about money, or is this yet another battle in the war on working women, forcing us to once again choose-career or family? Why should it ever be a choice?
Mamas, you can make a difference-right from your beds!!
I know, you are probably thinking,
“What the heck could I possibly do? I’m on bed rest. I have all that I can handle right now.”
I hear you, mamas. I know that your utmost concern is first and foremost for your own health and for the health of your unborn child. But isn’t that what all mamas want??
This weekend I went to a clothing swap to raise funds for the “Train 1000 Midwives” program for the Edna University Hospital in Somaliland Africa. The Edna University Hospital was established in Hargeisa, Somaliland following the bloody, brutal civil war in Somalia. After the war, the newly established Republic of Somaliland was left with a war torn country and no public help or services. Edna Adan Ismail, former minister to Somaliland and current President of the Organization for Victims of Torture, is a leading activist for women’s health rights in Somaliland and she speaks vehemently against female genital circumcision/female genital mutilation. She established the University Hospital in the hopes that those trained there will return home to their native towns and villages and care for their people. The “Train 1000 Midwives” Program is a direct response to the extremely high rate of maternal and infant mortality in the region.
“Train 1000 Midwives” is one of the projects selected by Connecther.org for funding. Connecther.org’s vision and mission are:
Connecther seeks to end global poverty by partnering with donors, non-profits and other stakeholders that focus on aiding women and children in their quest for self reliance.
Connecther provides a platform for matching donors to projects that provide poverty alleviation services to women and children in their quest for self-reliance. Connecther helps our project partners raise funds and awareness via our communications & crowdfunding platforms insuring that Givers’ contributions are invested to make the biggest positive impact.
Connecther is an amazing organization and at it’s core is a group of women who have decided to come together and make a difference. It’s that simple. Women, more specifically Mamas, have come together and are essentially saying,
‘It’s no longer acceptable for women and girls to suffer and struggle. Those women and girls who are so inclined to do better we are going to help them by providing funds for necessary resources.’
It’s that simple to get involved. It’s that simple to be “Pro-Active”. The Clothing Swap was sponsored by The Lucky Penny Fund. Inspired by Half The Sky, a movement intent on exchanging women’s oppression into opportunity, friend and colleague Jessica Sunshine Christian started the Lucky Penny Fund as a way to learn more about the lives of women around the world and to help. She admits that she doesn’t have much to give, but she is willing to give from what she has-one penny at a time. Jessica and her partner Carmen pooled their energy and resources to organize the clothing swap. We each cleaned out our closets and for $25 essentially “went shopping”. Our donations went to the “Train 1000 Midwives” project via Connecther and the remaining items not swapped were donated to a local women’s shelter. This was win-win-win -win!!
So often we learn of events or people in the world and think, “That’s so sad” or, “That’s tragic”. Yet the moment passes because we feel impotent to effect change. Mamas can change the world and all of the organizations mentioned above are in existence because mamas have said, “Enough is enough! I may not be able to do much, but I can do what I can!!”
That’s all it takes! That’s what it means to be “Pro-Active!” So mamas, even if you are on bed rest, consider what you can do to ease the burden of another mama; donate funds, subscribe to a newsletter, volunteer, be a peer supporter (Lots of this on our Facebook Page!). Any little bit helps.
I have to confess, I’m having a moment of Geek. I received an article link from a former Mama on Bedrest and the Geek in me has been jumping up and down as I am reading it. Finally, researchers here in the United States are taking notice of the fact that intra partum maternal mortality rates are atrocious and they are doing something about it!
Now you are probably saying, “What has that got to do with me, a Mama on Bedrest?” Well, it has everything to do with you! It means that physicians, researchers and hospitals around the country are making changes to ensure that if you have a complication during your labor and delivery, you don’t die from it. In my book, that’s a pretty big deal!
Okay, this is not exactly a sexy topic. It’s not, “4 Ways to better prop yourself up on pillows while on bed rest,” or some other topic that is immediately associated with your current situation. It’s not soothing, it’s not comforting. Yet it’s extremely important. It’s the nuts and bolts of maternity care. Its looking at a grave situation-maternal mortality in the United States (which is worse than any other industrialized nation by the way and 3-4 times worse in African American women!)-and saying, “We’re going to fix this!!” The good thing is that when American physicians and researchers put their minds and energy into improving outcomes, things typically do improve! (Look at how care of preterm infants has vastly improved, assisted reproductive technology allows women to become pregnant in the first place, and all the advances in perinatal care if you want examples!)
So what is the article saying-Exactly?
The article is from the St. Louis Post Dispatch and asked the question, “Why are so many US women dying during childbirth?” The doctors and researchers in this article, all from the St. Louis Missouri area, began looking closely at cases of maternal intra partum death and came up with the following reasons and solutions:
- Preconception counseling or at least very early prenatal counseling is important-especially in women with pre-existing conditions and/or riskfactors for complications.
- Pregnancy has become increasingly risky because of the prevalence of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease; more older women having children; advancements in fertility treatments resulting in twin births; and the high rate of C-sections. All of these issues must be addressed early and aggressively, from start to finish during pregnancy.
- Researchers and high-risk pregnancy specialists say an important step is stratifying maternity care, parallel to what has been adopted in the care of high-risk newborns. Higher-level hospitals would have the specialists and infrastructure needed to take care of complex (maternal health) cases, help institute guidelines to improve care, and consult with lower-level hospitals on complex cases. They note that often a mama and her baby are transferred to another hospital to care for a sick, fragile infant, forgetting that the infant is ill because the mama is also in poorer health. Care must start with mama!!
- Physicians and hospitals must be continually evaluating their outcomes and making adjustments to improve care. Complication protocols must be instituted and everyone must be trained in these protocols. Doctors and staff who fail to comply must be “reined in.”
- What hospitals can also do, many say, is promote spontaneous, vaginal births — the safest for mothers and babies. One procedure or drug increases the risk for another, often causing a cascade of interventions that ends with a C-section. In the U.S., the C-section rate has skyrocketed to 33 percent of all births. The World Health Organization says it should be closer to 15 percent.
- Consider using more Midwives and for uncomplicated births. Their low-tech approach has been shown to reduce C-section rates and improve other health outcomes.
- More research and study needed to understand the causes and treatments of potentially catastrophic maternal conditions. Even if a complication is rare, there should be protocols in place every part of the health care team should be educated on the condition and the protocol and know what to do in the event of a catastrophic event.
- Statewide maternal mortality review committees (and a national registry??) made up of key players in prenatal, childbirth and postpartum care are being instituted. Committees regularly review deaths to gain insight on warning signs, prevention and treatments. Such committees exist in Illinois and Missouri and the Illinois committee is the model for several other committees forming around the country. Federal legislation proposed two years ago to beef up state maternal mortality committees stalled, but nationally, there is a bigger effort around improving care than there ever has been before by government, doctors groups and researchers.
The wheels of change are slowly turning and finally there is emphasis on the health of mamas! I’ve said my goal is to put myself out of business. Hopefully with these changes in maternity care, that desire is not long off!