Mamas on Bedrest Meets with Senator Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) Office

July 16th, 2010

On July 12, 2010 I had the opportunity to meet with a congressional assistant to Senator Babara Mikulski, D-MD on behalf of all mamas on bedrest and all high risk pregnant women.

If you are an advocate of women’s health issues and don’t know “Senator Barb” you need to. Senator Mikulski is a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), which oversees issues such as education, labor, health care for seniors, long-term care, women’s health, social, nutritional, information and referral services for seniors, individuals with disabilities, and Social Security. Senator Mikulski is also a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. I requested to meet with Senator Mikulski or one of her representatives to ask that she start the legislative process to amend the Family Medical Leave Act so that family leave (and hence maternity leave) will be extended to 3-6 months and for that leave to be paid. Additionally we asked Senator Mikulski to use her influence to increase research into the causes and treatments for high risk pregnancy. Joanie Reisfeld, executive director of Better Bedrest, Inc., accompanied me to the meeting and together we presented a compelling case for why these topics should be considered.

I learned a lot from this experience, mainly that we have a long road ahead of us if we are to obtain legislation that will make paid maternity leave law.

We met with a congressional assistant, a young single woman who seemed to me not at all in the mindset to discuss childbearing-let alone high risk pregnancy and medical leave for such. Her job is to listen to people who come before her, gather any information that they present and then to compile and summarize the information in a memo to the Senator. 

I was initially disheartened. It sounded like our requests would land in a pile of summaries in some remote corner of the Senator’s office. All the preparation and data collection seemed to be for nothing. Before giving up all hope, I asked the assistant, “What does the Senator need to advance her women’s health initiatives, how could we perhaps fold these requests into these initiatives and how can we help?”

In that moment, the tenor of the conversation changed. We had been focused on presenting an enormous amount of information (a complete binder full of statistics and testimonials) in a short amount of time (30 minutes). But as all the marketers that I respect and follow say, you have to approach your prospective customers with “What’s in it for them”. By simply shifting our approach from “We would like the Senator to consider and act on our requests” to “What is the Senator currently working on and how can we help integrate our requests into those initiatives and help her move them forward?” We go more specific information from the assistant and, now, a direct point of contact in Senator Mikulski’s office.

We learned:

  • It takes about 2 weeks for requests to be processed; i.e. for the congressional assistants to compile the information they receive, summarize it and get it to the next in the chain of command.
  • We can follow up on the status of our request and our meeting by corresponding directly with this assistant.
  • The best way to correspond with her is via e-mail.
  • She can and will find out which specific initiatives Senator Mikulski is working on and will share that information with us so that we can see if we can tailor our requests to better coincide with what is already in motion.
  • I will be the point of contact on this end so that she can contact me directly if she needs more information.

So the first step has been taken. I am sure that it is one of many thousands that will be necessary in order for Family Medical Leave (FMLA) to be extented and to be paid time off.

Add your comments and suggestions to this post in the comments section below.

Keep abreast of the legislative process as we lobby and advocate for mamas on bed rest by signing up for our e-newsletter. 

And if you are on bed rest, be sure to get your copy of Bedrest Fitness, a set of modified prenatal exercises designed specifically for pregnant women on prescribed bed rest. Order your copy today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *