Use Of This Modern Trend For New Moms Is A Call For Change

New moms go through a roller coaster of emotional and physical changes immediately after giving birth.

And these early weeks with a newborn are the most vital for establishing feeding and sleep schedules, and for proper bonding between mother and child.

Unfortunately, many American moms are not given enough time to heal, adapt, or get into a good routine with their babies due to having to return to work too quickly — and they are turning to a unique and modern way to extend their time at home.

While crowdfunding has been around for years, it is now being used to raise money to provide mothers the income to take additional maternity leave.

ABC News reported:

As a result, thousands have used GoFundMe to raise money for maternity or paternity leave, with such campaigns bringing in millions of dollars overall, a GoFundMe spokesperson told ABC News.

Another site, Babylist, where expectant parents register for baby gifts, has some families listing a need for funds for maternity or paternity leave, said Natalie Gordon, Babylist’s CEO. She told ABC News that about 250 registrants have set up funds for leave to care for a new baby or adopted child. That is a small fraction of the approximately 75,000 expectant parents who have set up registries on the platform so far this year.

“Being able to give the gift of time to parents and their newborns is really enticing, and friends and family are financially backing couples in doing this,”  the spokesperson said.

But how have we gotten to the point where women need to ask for donations to allow for more time with their newborns in the first precious weeks?

According to the Department of Labor, more than half of American workers can receive up to 12 weeks of leave following the birth of a child under the Family and Medical Leave Act — but it is unpaid leave.

Less than 15 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave, and the U.S. is the only advanced nation without a paid family leave plan in place.

Because most families cannot get by without a paycheck during those 12 weeks, they often must return to work far too quickly after the birth of their child.

And the executives of online crowdfunding companies say the trend shows a dire need for change in family leave policies.

ABC News continued:

“The trend of maternity crowdfunding is pointing to a need for better federal paid maternity leave policies that help women take the necessary time they need when they have a child,” she said.

Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, agrees.

“[W]e all need and deserve not just paid maternity leave, but also paid leave that allows us to take time off to address other family and medical needs,” Ness said in a statement to ABC News, citing the high number of U.S. workers without paid family leave and paid personal medical leave. “This is evidence of our failure as a nation to adopt policies that provide the basic supports that all workers need at some point in their lives and nearly every other country provides.”

The families who approach the use of crowdfunding are typically not asking for outrageous sums of money — only enough to help with food, diapers, and small bills so they may spend every moment they can with their newborn.

Many point to the failure of their employer’s inadequate family leave policies for giving them no other option than to ask for help from good Samaritans — and agree that something needs to change.

There are several large companies that provide extended periods of paid leave to both new mothers and new fathers.  Corporate giants like Google, Cisco, and Hewlett-Packard offer anywhere from 4-6 months — or more — of maternity leave at full salary.

And other companies have implemented programs which offer matched contributions for maternity leave.  Moms (and dads) can have money deducted from their paychecks when they find they are expecting so they can save for an extended time off, and have it matched by their employer.

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While companies with under 15 employees are not required to provide leave according to the Family Medical Leave Act, they must comply with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  This legislation allows for mothers to take additional time off without penalty, beingtreated the same as an employee who had an extended illness.

When working for smaller companies, parents can be an advocate for their family’s needs by speaking with Human Resources and lobbying to have paid family leave policies put in place.

Even then, many small or private businesses are not able to afford to pay even partial compensation to a parent who requests more than a few weeks of maternity leave, leading mothers to return to work far earlier than they would like.

The Atlantic reported:

The lack of a blanket policies that offer wage replacement during parental leave is at odds with what most Americans want—and say that they need. A recent study by Pew Research Center found that the majority of Americans support paid leave, with 69 percent of respondents saying that they returned to work more quickly than they would have liked because they could not afford to lose more wages.

That might be why some new parents are now turning to baby registries and crowdfunding sites to help with their finances duringparental leave.

What do you think of the idea of online crowdfunding to extend maternity leave?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.