Family Planning

Mamas on Bedrest: From Bump to Birth-10 Tips for Maternity Leave

December 6th, 2013

Family on ComputerI am totally dismayed by the fact that the United States is the only industrialized nation and one of only 3 nations globally that don’t offer any sort of mandatory paid maternity/paternity leave. I believe that it is a HUGE detriment to our workforce, especially now since approximately 51% of the workforce is women. Because of US employment policies, many women are forced to choose between career and family, i.e “career track” and “mommy track”. Likewise, many men miss out on the joys of family and parenting as they work diligently to support their families if and/or when their wives become pregnant and are home caring for the children. Families should be allowed more flexibility and balance, and unfortunately this just isn’t the case.

As many Mamas on Bedrest know, unexpected complications during pregnancy can further throw off family financial balance. If a woman is the principle wage earner and has to be out of work for weeks to months due to bed rest, the impact to the family’s financial security can be devastating. The family will not only be impacted financially on the day to day level, but may also be at risk of losing precious health care benefits at a time when they are needed most. Today, Eric Adamowsky, co-founder of CreditCardInsider.com shares with us 10 Tips for Maternity Leave. They surveyed working mamas and asked them what they thought the most important tips are to note regarding maternity leave. This is what Mamas shared with them, and they graciously shared this information with us. Thanks so much Eric! Mamas, take note. There is some really good info here!!

 

While our biggest focus at Credit Card Insider is providing information about the responsible use of credit and credit cards, we’re always looking for ways to help people manage their finances in all areas of life, and especially at different major life stages. For this post, we asked for maternity leave advice from experienced moms in the workforce and discovered ten key themes.

1. Communicate with your employer
2. Be professional
3. Prepare – physically, emotionally, financially
4. Pre-plan a few meals
5. Cherish and maximize your time with baby
6. Give yourself a break
7. Accept help
8. Learn to be the baby’s mom
9. Include dad in the plan
10. Pace your transition back to work

If you notice overlap in the themes, such as a consistent message to take as much time off as you can, pay attention.

Communicate with your employer

No one will plan your maternity leave for you. It’s up to you to research any benefits and how to get them. Don’t be afraid to take full advantage of any maternity leave benefits available to you. If your maternity leave is unpaid, you could be eligible for paid family leave benefits from the state. Call your state’s unemployment/disability office for more information.

Prepare – physically, emotionally, and financially

Realize that everything is about to change – your body, your feelings, your schedule, your budget. Plan as well as you can. Be kind to your body. Producing a little human is no small job. Play with the idea that you might want to take an extended absence from work. Your career will always be there, but your child wants and needs your time and attention now. So think now – before the baby comes – about money. Don’t chant the “everything will work out” mantra. To get what you want, a solid financial plan will be a thousand times more effective than a wish and a prayer.

Pre-plan a few meals

You’ll hear from practically every new parent that once the baby is born, your day will revolve around meeting baby’s needs and not much else. You’ll be tired, possibly overwhelmed, and very short on time to handle previously mundane tasks like shopping and cooking. The most organized new parents think ahead to prepare meals (or at least key ingredients, like meat) that can later be heated, requiring no preparation whatsoever.

Cherish and maximize your time with baby

Studies show that most new moms don’t want to return to full time work after the birth of a baby. Even if you love your job or you don’t think you can live without the income, consider the possibility that you’ll fall into that category and plan for it as well as you can. Maximize your time off. Once you go back to work, find out if you can work from home or ease back part-time. While you’re off, enjoy the time with your new child.

Give yourself a break

Don’t expect to be a “natural” or to take it all in stride, no matter how much experience you have with other peoples’ children. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, and when it’s just mom, dad and baby, the answers don’t always present themselves clearly. In days gone by, extended families lived together and there were older generations around to teach new moms what to do. These days, you might not have that advantage. So cut yourself some slack for any doubts, lack of confidence or unrealistic expectations you may have.

Accept help

When friends and family offer to help, let them. It may seem like a big imposition to ask your mother-in-law or surfing buddy to do your shopping, but if the offer is made, accept it gratefully. Running errands, cooking meals, cleaning the house, and walking a fussy baby are all great tasks to assign to caring people in your inner circle during the first few weeks of your little one’s life. Outside the home, get connected with a lactation support group nearby so that you’ll know where to go if any challenges arise.

Learn to be the baby’s mom

You might slip into your new role with ease… and you might not. Give yourself time to get used to the new routine. Relax and stay in the moment.

Include dad in the plan

You’re in this together. Encourage dad to be an active participant and to bond with baby. Like mom, dad should be unafraid to take the maximum amount of family leave available. Some men feel awkward around the baby, not knowing what to do or how they can help. Comfort will only come with practice. Also, men tend to feel much less free to take extended absences from work, and far more pressure to put the hours in. Each new dad has to set his own priorities, but more and more men are choosing to put family at the top of the list

Pace your transition back to work

Whether you must return to work or just want to, pace the transition. Spend the first two weeks in the daycare setting with your baby, to show that it is a safe, comfortable place that the baby can still associate with mom.  If possible, go back to work part-time and ease into your full-time schedule over time.

And don’t underestimate the amount of time you’ll want to take off!

 

Thanks so much to Eric Adamowsky, Co-founder of CreditCardInsider.com for this post. Mamas, what has worked for you financially balancing bed rest/maternity leave and finances? Please share your tips in the comments section below.

 

Mamas on Bedrest: The Importance of Spacing Your Pregnancies

November 13th, 2013

Hello Mamas,

We’re talking about spacing your pregnancies. I know this sounds absolutely absurd given that you are already pregnant and on bed rest. But I had the great fortune to listen in on a very well done webinar presented by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals and I feel compelled to share some of the information.

We all know pregnancy ushers in a whole host of hormonal, physiologic, psychologic and emotional changes for women. But what some of you may not know is that when women have pregnancies close together, they deny their bodies much needed time to readjust to the rigors of pregnancy, labor and delivery and their new role as mama. An immediate repeat pregnancy may result in fatigue, anemia, preterm labor, and other physical problems. The second infant may be born prematurely, at a low birth weight, be small for size/age and have other developmental problems. Finally, pregnancies close together shorten the bonding time the first infant has with mama.

We all know life happens. But pregnancies don’t have to happen. In most areas of the US and in most industrialized nations, women have access to a wide range of birth control methods. There’s a lot out there to choose from and I review many of these methods here.  And let’s be clear, I am not trying to tell anyone what to do, I merely seek to inform and to educate. And FYI, The literature on spacing pregnancies suggests women space pregnancies at least 18 months, but no more than 5 years apart, with an optimal range of about 2-3 years.