working mothers

Mamas on Bedrest: NASA will pay $18,000 To Watch You Rest in Bed!

September 30th, 2013

220px-NASA_logo.svg_NASA is currently looking for volunteers to lie in bed for 70 days. That’s right, you could get paid a total of around $18,000 for lying in bed, playing games on your phone, reading books, skyping with your friends and family, taking online classes – and even go on with your day job if you can get away with working remotely, so long as you don’t get out of bed for that entire duration.

This is the headline posted In the September 18, 2013 ForbesWoman online magazine. I almost fell out when I saw the headline. Heck, We could bankrupt the government if I sent all of you over there as participants! So I investigated and got the skinny on the study.

According to the article and Dr. Roni Cromwell, Senior Scientist on the study, the purpose of the study is to research the effects of microgravity (living in space) on the human body.  The study simulates the effects of long-duration spaceflight by having test subjects lie in beds for the 70 day period. The beds are tilted head-down at a six-degree angle. According to Dr Cromwell, “this tilt which causes body fluids to shift to the upper part of the body, sets off cardiovascular events that are similar to what we see in a space flight. And by putting someone in bed for a long time, there is also atrophy of the muscle and atrophy of bone density,” she said. The ultimate goal is to see how best to protect and maintain the health of astronauts while they are in space. Additionally, NASA scientists want to see if they can minimize the negative effects of space travel and then help astronauts return to “life on earth” as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

I find this amazing! There is an actual study looking at the “negative effects” of bed rest and measures to counteract it! Have any of you been offered such counter protective measures? And I know that many of you are on bed rest longer than 70 days! Has anyone been offered any sort of Stipend for their  oh, 20 weeks or so of bedrest??? This is absolutely amazing to me that NASA is going to such lengths to protect the health of their astronauts Wow!! All I can say is Wow!

Interestingly, the subjects NASA is looking for must be very healthy and must go through rigorous screening to make sure that they can endure 70 days of bed rest. Were any of you ladies screened??

According to NASA, “We want to make sure we select people who are mentally ready to spend 70 days in bed. Not everyone is comfortable with that. Not every type of person can tolerate an extended time in bed,” says Dr Cromwell.

No Kidding! Really??

“Once they qualify physically and mentally, we do rigorous physical exercises to test muscle strength and aerobics capacity. We want people who have the physical and psychological characteristics of an astronaut. They should be able to do the kind of activities that astronauts do.”

 But can astronauts do the “rigorous activities that mamas do? Can that program prepare astronauts and other civilians to be ready for the demands of motherhood after a mere 70 days of bed rest?  Hmmmm……

And to make sure that folks stay in bed, the test subjects will be showered and use specially designed facilities. 

Well I am simply floored! While I am excited to see how NASA is training and studying the effects of weightless on astronauts, I am appalled that very little work has been done for pregnant women. Bed rest is prescribed for some 750,000 pregnant American women annually. They are given no pre-treatment, no pre-screening and most certainly no $18,000!  In a country with no paid leave, this would mean the difference between mamas being able to actually rest and calmly gestate their babies and potentially losing their jobs, homes and financial security.

NASA has long looked at the effects of bed rest on the body and reached the conclusion that it is not good for any body to be on prolonged inactivity. Judith Maloni, PhD spent her career studying bed rest and how to improve ways to treat high risk pregnant women as bed rest has been shown to have numerous negative side effects on women’s bodies. And yet, NASA gets funded to evaluate weightless on astronauts over a 15 week period. Women who are out on pregnancy bed rest longer than 12 weeks typically do so without pay and risk losing their jobs.

I am hopeful that once NASA completes its study, it will share the results and the medical community, particularly the obstetrical community. I hope OB’s will take heed and make changes in how pregnant women on bed rest are managed. Let’s pay more attention to bone and muscle loss and try to offset it. Let’ s protect mamas’ hearts by taking into consideration the cardiovascular changes that occur with prolonged bed rest and make appropriate evaluations and precautions. And by all means, if it’s all in the name of science, let’s compensate mamas for their efforts! Seems to me that we ought to do something for those propagating our species right here on old planet earth rather than looking for other species on Mars. Just sayin’…..

Mamas on Bedrest: Work at Home on Bedrest & Beyond!

August 28th, 2013

Happy Wednesday mamas!!

In today’s video blog, I share tips on how to work from home while on bedrest. Inspired by a conversation I had with a mama on bed rest who needs to work, I share with you here some of the tips and suggestions I shared with her to start working from home. There are a myriad of things Mamas on Bedrest can do while on bed rest and reap a lucrative income. With a little forethought and planning, Mamas on Bedrest can become “Money Making” Mamas on Bedrest!

Suggested Resources: 

The Work at Home Woman also, check out our podcast with The work at home woman, Holly Hannah!

All Moms Work

SCORE

US Small Business Administration

Mamas on Bedrest: Breastfeeding Awareness and Breastfeeding Initiatives

August 2nd, 2013

nursing infantAugust is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and August 1-7 is Breastfeeding Awareness week. We are kicking off the “celebration” with The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) launching a new initiative to increase breastfeeding.

In this latest initiative, ACOG is aiming to increase the initiation and the continuation of breastfeeding in “underserved” women. They define underserved women as,

“Underserved women, those who are unable to obtain quality health care by virtue of poverty, cultural differences, race and ethnicity, geographic region, or other factors that contribute to health care disparities, may face greater barriers in the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding.”

Because the benefits of breastfeeding on both maternal and infant health are well documented, and because many underserved women have higher rates of health issues that may be helped by breastfeeding (obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease), ACOG is encouraging hospitals, doctors, lactation consultants and employers to be vigilant about what is put in hospital bags and to make breastfeeding education a priority.  ACOG warns that when formula samples or marketing materials placed in hospital gift bags may be seen by many patients as a recommendation from the hospital and their doctors to formula feed and this is not the case. Counteracting these marketing campaigns with clear, easy to understand information about breastfeeding that is readily available and backed up with accessible education from qualified lactation consultants is critical if changes are to be made.

ACOG is recommending the above changes be made to increase the likelihood that all women will initiate breastfeeding and continue until at least 6 months. Citing information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ACOG is setting forth the following breastfeeding targets,

Box 1 Healthy People 2020 Targets for Breastfeeding* 

* Increase the proportion of infants who are

—ever breastfed (81.9%)

—breastfed at 6 months (60.6%)

—breastfed at 1 year (34.1%)

—exclusively breastfed through 3 months (46.2%)

—exclusively breastfed through 6 months (25.5%)

—Employers with on-site lactation support (38%)

* Reduce the proportion of breastfed newborns who receive formula supplementation in first 2 days of life (14.2%)

* Increase the proportion of live births that occur in facilities that provide recommended care for lactation mothers and their babies (8.1%)

From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Breastfeeding Report Card.

 

While ACOG’s initiative is targeting “underserved” (predominantly minority) women, breastfeeding rates in the US are lower than for other nations overall. As ACOG states in its Committee Opinion, women with less education are less likely to breastfeed because they are more likely to return to work soon after delivery, and are in jobs where they are not able to comfortably pump. This is a HUGE barrier for all women! Hopefully ACOGs recommendations will be heard and heeded by ALL employers.

Reliable, easily accessible, easily understood education around breastfeeding is critical. When ACOG and others have done surveys about why women aren’t breastfeeding, they received erroneous responses such as “it will create dependency in the baby”, “I have small breasts and won’t be able to make enough milk” and other common fallacies. Women need to have ready access to lactation consultants-either on the phone or in person-to explain information and to give much needed support and guidance. This access is critical when a woman is having difficulty with breastfeeding, i.e. difficulty getting the baby to latch on, getting into a comfortable position to breastfeed, having sore and/or cracked nipples and other challenges. Having someone that a mama can talk to, get advice from and receive encouragement from will be the difference between continuing and giving up.

And this support is critical. So many women set the intention to breastfeed, but their efforts are derailed by “well meaning” friends or relatives and sometimes even by their partners! If a woman’s mother did not breastfeed she is less likely to breastfeed and that likelihood goes up if her mother plays an active role in caring for the newborn. Likewise, if a woman’s partner is not supportive of breastfeeding, she is not likely to continue.

I think that as a nation we need to increase rates of breastfeeding in all American women. We need to provide clear and easy to understand information about the benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and baby. We need to reorganize workplaces so that women returning to work can pump in a quiet and private area and have the time to do so!! Hospitals are the first line when it comes to breastfeeding, so they need to educate all staff working with mamas and babies about breastfeeding benefits and to severely limit (ban?? ) formula marketing and samples from hospital gift bags.

What support or education about breastfeeding have you received? Share your breastfeeding experiences in the comments section below! Did your healthcare provider share the benefits of breastfeeding? Does your healthcare provider’s office have lactation consultants you can call when you need assistance? Is your employer supportive of you pumping at work? Let’s tally up the answers and see where the breastfeeding friendly providers, workplaces and family friendly places are here in the US.