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6 Weeks Paid Family Leave in 2018 Federal Budget Proposal!

May 25th, 2017

President Donald Trump has proposed that employees be granted 6 weeks paid family leave for the birth of a child (each for mothers and fathers!) or the adoption of a child. Under the proposed plan, states would be required to provide leave payments through existing unemployment insurance programs or would have to identify cuts or tax hikes, as needed, to cover the costs.

Now as most of you know, paid family leave is something that I have advocated for since the beginning of Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond in 2009. Currently the United States is one of 4 nations that doesn’t offer paid leave; Lesotho, Swaziland and Papau New Guinea are the other nations. Instead, we have the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which entitles workers to 12 weeks of unpaid leave with guarantee of their job in order to care for a new baby, ill family member or themselves if they’ve worked for their employer for a year. However, this particular law has a slew of loopholes, not the least of which is that if a company is small, i.e. less than 50 members, the employer doesn’t have to abide by FMLA and if an employee is absent too much, the employer can fire them.

Paid medical leave is long overdue, but given our current administration, I am guardedly optimistic. The Republican party has long been against any sort of government intervention as it pertains to family and social services and this current administration is doing all that it can to dismantle many of our social safety net programs. So while I am excited to see families may finally be able to spend time with their new children or to take time to address pressing health issues, I’m skeptical that it’s really going to happen.

What concerns me about this proposal is that it hasn’t been clearly thought out by the administration. It’s a great eye catcher and liberals like me get all pumped-until we actually take a hard look at the proposal. There is not clear cut way to fund this proposal or a way to enforce it. Making states fund paid family leave, how will that work? What will be the repercussions if states don’t fund paid leave?  Historically, when states have been given the latitude to “govern” as they see fit, what often happens is that laws don’t take effect. A perfect example of this has been the Affordable Care Act. States were given the ability to “govern” as they saw fit and many states filed lawsuits against the bill, failed to accept allotted funds (Texas!!), didn’t expand Medicaid, and many insurers simply pulled out of the marketplace all together leaving those (of us) in the system with very few (affordable) health insurance options. Leaving paid family leave up to the states will again result in states with a high degree of social consciousness to implement a programs, and the rest will just simply let the legislation sit on someone’s desk and gather dust while it is “discussed” in legislative committees. Sadly, in many cases, those needing the provision of the proposal won’t get what they need.

Now we know that paid leave can be done. Currently California, Rhode Island, Washington, New Jersey, New York and the District of Columbia have paid family leave programs. These states and municipalities have made the commitment to their constituents and have found the way to fund paid leave-even when the federal government said “No”. One would think that the federal government would have looked at these programs and crafted a national program, or even recommended that representatives from these states help other states get their programs up and running. No. Nope. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

So once again, there has been a grand declaration that supporters are hailing as progress, and presidential supporters are saying that the president has kept his campaign promise. Supporters are also giving credit for the legislation to First Daughter Ivanks Trump for encouraging her father to craft such a proposal. But those of us who have been advocating for this legislation for years know the devil is in the details. Without a clear mandate, without a clear means of implementation and without funding, this proposal simply isn’t going to happen. I most certainly hope that I am wrong because paid family leave is very much needed in this country. But until I see a concrete plan of how paid leave is going to work, how each state will develop and implement their individual programs, how states will be held accountable for developing and implementing the programs, how the programs will be funded and how accessible the programs will be to ALL citizens, I will be holding off on the victory champagne and streamers .

How do you feel about paid medical leave? Have you used FMLA? How did it work for you? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

References:

US Department of Labor

MomsRising.org

Healthcare.gov

 

10 Perfect Mother’s Day Gifts for Mamas on Bedrest!

May 11th, 2017

This weekend is Mother’s Day and it’s time to shower your favorite Mamas on Bedrest with love and adoration!! Mamas on Bedrest are mamas who are not out and about. They are doing the very important work of gestating their babies at home and in the hospital, doing all that they can to make sure their bundles of love arrive safe and healthy. In their unwavering dedication to their babies and their families, recognizing that finances may be tight and that dad’s and other family members time is stretched, they are forgoing some vital self care. So for all that they are doing, show them that you see them and that you appreciate all the hard work that they are doing, and give them some extra love and pampering just for them! Below are 10 Perfect Mother’s Day gifts for Mamas on Bedrest. You’ll need to check your local listings for availability and pricing.

A Facial – Today there are mobile aestheticians who will actually come to your home and pamper you! Why not book a facial for your fav Mama on Bedrest? The aesthetician typically will bring her own equipment and products and provide mama with an unforgettable experience. Facials are excellent during pregnancy because with the added pregnancy hormones on board, many mamas may be experiencing acne, dryness or other skin imbalances that an experienced aesthetician can help remedy. And it will make mama feel great and bring out that pregnancy glow!

A Massage – Massage is an excellent gift for any mama, but especially for Mamas on Bedrest. Massage stimulates circulation as well as lymphatic drainage. Because Mamas on Bedrest are not up and moving about, their circulation has often slowed and the removal of dead tissue and wastes are also slowed. A massage by an experienced prenatal massage therapist will not only help mama’s circulation, but will relieve tired muscles and stretch muscles and limbs not being used while mama is on bedrest. Mama may also find that her sleep improves after the massage.

Manicure/Pedicure – All Mamas, especially Mamas on Bedrest, like to look pretty! Why not gift mama a mani/pedi! Aestheticians can come to mama in her home or to her hospital room and provide the service.

Housecleaning – Let’s face it, when mama’s down, the family goes into chaos as they try to figure out how to maneuver without their star player/team captain! Mamas often lament to me that they are concerned that their family is having trouble keeping up with the house; with their partners working and the kids doing what they can. Why not gift this mama some peace of mind and provide a deep cleaning service? Most services will come and do a one time deep cleaning, getting in every nook and cranny and setting things to right. Once that is done, Mama will rest easy knowing that her family now only needs to do maintenance upkeep.

Meal Delivery – I know that many communities gather round families with Mamas on Bedrest and bring over meals and casseroles. This is a wonderful gesture and much appreciated by Mama and her family. But it’s Mother’s Day. Let’s go all out!!! Order mama and her family a meal from their favorite restaurant and have it delivered and set up in her room! This is a wonderful way for mama and her entire family to share the day and its extra special when the meal comes from a special place.

Personal Chef Services – Some mamas will develop pregnancy induced hypertention (PIH) or Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) during pregnancy or even other metabolic disorders that will require mama to watch her diet. Why not give mama some special attention by hiring a personal chef for her-even if just for Mother’s Day. Most personal chef’s are very adept at preparing foods that are nutritious yet adhere to special dietary constraints. It will surely make mama feel like a queen!

Childbirth Education – Unfortunately, because mama is on bedrest, she won’t be able to attend a childbirth class. Why not bring the class to her! There are innumerable childbirth education classes available online. And (shameless plug here) Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond offers childbirth education classes via SKYPE and Facetime! So there is no need for mama to go into labor unprepared, but every opportunity for her to enter labor and delivery empowered.

Lactation Consultation – Many of you may be saying, “She hasn’t even had the baby yet!” Then this is the perfect time to make sure that Mama has everything that she needs to successfully initiate breastfeeding at birth and to carry on throughout the first year (if she so chooses!!) I have had many mamas remark that consultations with lactation consultants are an expense that they cannot afford. Why not gift this valuable resource to her??

Doula Services – I am so saddened when I hear Mamas on Bedrest say, “Oh, I can’t have a doula, I’m high risk and will be delivering in the hospital” or “I’m having a c-section.” There is still no reason that you can’t have support and comfort measures during your labor, delivery and birth. Doulas are for ALL women, not just those who are having uncomplicated pregnancies or birthing with midwives. Think about it, if doulas are there to make you feel more comfortable and secure, and to make sure that you have your wishes carried out as much as possible, doesn’t it make more sense to have a doula present to advocate on your behalf in an environment where there may be more intervention? Doulas are able to support all childbearing women in all types of situations, and their presence is now scientifically documented to improve birth outcomes. Gift this invaluable resource to a mama today!

Becoming a mother is quite possibly one of the most monumental events in a woman’s life. It needn’t be marred by bedrest. Mama can still be pampered and appreciated for the awesome mama she is and it’s my hope that these 10 gift ideas will enable you to show her how much she is loved and appreciated.

 

Happy Mother’s Day mamas!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get mama Doula services, Childbirth Education and Breastfeeding support, by e-mailing info@mamasonbedrest.com

“I was on the Treadmill 2 days after I delivered” And in Surgery 2 months later!

April 27th, 2017

Pushing too hard to regain your pre-pregnancy physique and activity level can actually have the opposite effect and lead to injury.

In the last post, I shared how many of my clients compare themselves and their post partum progress to celebrities, who more often than not, have a full staff of people helping them with their babies, enabling them to rest, prepare them specialized diets and personally train them to get back to their pre-pregnancy physiques. I have spoken on this topic many times before in an earnest effort to put mamas’ worries to rest that they are not “slackers” if they don’t “bounce back” to their pre-pregnancy weights immediately post partum. For Mamas on Bedrest especially, most people don’t expect you to immediately dash through your homes putting everything into neat and tidy order post bed rest. You won’t have the energy. Some of you will need physical therapy to be able to regain your strength and mobility.  So I continue to encourage you to put the comparisons aside.

I also wanted to draw readers attention to a post on our Facebook Page by the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health  “Women need a whole year to recover from childbirth despite the ‘fantasy’ image of celebrity mothers, study claims” 

A whole year??! Most American women balk at this statement and as one of my readers clearly stated,

“A year… wow. I wish. That’s literally impossible for most moms in the U.S.”

What a tragic statement about the US’s concern for women’s health, maternal health and the health and well being of mamas and their babies. I could write (and have written!!) an entire post about how the US doesn’t value childbearing as evidenced by our maternity policies and birth outcomes. I’ll refrain from reiterating my utter disdain at this time. But I  do want to address some very important issues that result when women resume their pre-pregnancy activities too soon, and how it can be detrimental to their own health and the health of their newborns.

Bonding – New mamas and their babies need time to bond. While there is already a very strong connection between mama and baby from the pregnancy, new mamas need to learn “this” baby’s cues; the cry of hunger, the cry from being wet, uncomfortable, tired….seasoned mamas know that every child is different, and it takes time to learn the needs and habits of their new little one. Likewise, a newborn is being bombarded with a whole world full of new cues and stimuli. The one thing that this little one needs to know is that when he/she cries, Mama (or some other caregiver) will be there to take care of them. This is the crux of the “fourth trimester” those 8-12 weeks in the early post partum when mamas and babies get to know one another, know each others cues and form their own “communication.”

Breastfeeding – I have said it before but it bears repeating; Breastfeeding is natural but it isn’t always easy. Some baby and mama duos have a hard time establishing a rhythm for breastfeeding. Getting into comfortable positions, establishing a good latch, baby being able to suck and swallow, mom not experiencing nipple pain,…this can all take time. Asian cultures have “The Golden Month” which is the first 40 days after a mama delivers. The women of her clan come and care for her, her family, her home and the baby so that she can rest and breastfeed. Mama does no housework, in fact, mama not only doesn’t leave the house, she stays mostly in bed! The elder women prepare nourishing foods and perform time honored rituals that help mama regain her strength-and establish good milk supply.

Out of necessity, here in the US many mamas must be back at work by 6 weeks. They may or may not have established their milk supply. Many will try to pump at work, but many work places don’t have adequate facilities nor provide adequate breaks in which a woman may pump and store her milk, and clean her supplies. Sadly, this situation results in many American women not breastfeeding beyond 6 months.

According to one of my favorite websites, Post Partum Progressapproximately 15% of Post Partum American women will have post partum depressive symptoms annually. That equates to approximately 600,000 American women! Many women won’t begin to exhibit symptoms for 60 days, well after the standard 6 week post partum visit. So many American women are undiagnosed, untreated and bogged down with the inability to focus, care for their babies, themselves or their families. Post partum depression is a serious medical condition as it can progress into a major depression (sometimes requiring hospitalization) or progress to post partum psychosis which can be deadly. Women with post partum depression need immediate medical attention so that they don’t hurt themselves or their babies. More important, post partum women need careful, longer term surveillance post partum, with many experts recommending that post partum health surveillance last throughout the first year!

Bodily Injury – Due to the pressure of the pregnancy on the pelvic floor and the subsequent pushing and stretching that occurred with labor and delivery, many women lose muscular tone in their perineums and experience prolapse-when a woman’s inner organs (mostly the uterus, bladder and rectum) present outside of her body. I see this primarily in women who begin too rigorous of an exercise program too soon. While not only being uncomfortable, organ prolapse can cause serious medical complications. Currently, with the exception of (mild) bladder prolapse for which a pessary can be placed to tuck the organ back up into the pelvis, the treatment for organ prolapse is surgery. Do you see the irony? While trying too aggressively to get back into shape (after bedrest?) you can land yourself back in bed! Ladies, a gentle walk with your baby in the stroller, yoga or prenatal/post partum fitness classes are the best way to get back into shape while being gentle with your body. Always remember,

“Nine months on, Nine Months off!”

I hope that these tips have helped you to remember the wonderfully fabulous beings that you are! Mamas, you’ve created and given life and that is far more important and worth celebrating than the latest celebrity siting!

 

What are your tips for getting back into the groove post partum? Share them in our comments section below and help another mama!