Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Maternity Leave/Care Rant

This has been slowly bothering me for a little while, but after yesterday it's really bugging me.

To start, because I am a part time working mom, I am entitled to paid maternity leave from my employer. I called the 800 number to set it up. I did the whole thing, what is your last day of work, we need the fax number of your health care provider, what's your work number.........etc. What bothered me was when she asked what my last scheduled day of work is. I told her that I'm not working past the week of Feb 23 since my due date is Mar 3. Makes sense right? Second baby, due dates aren't always correct, yada yada. She asked me why I can't work past that date. I answered "Because my midwives don't want me going into labor at work." and neither does anybody else that I work with. I know she was looking for a medical reason, but the tone she asked it is was almost as if to say "What you can't hack it till your due date?"  That has been the something that has been bothering me.

Women all across America and in other parts of the world are made to feel, either by insurance companies, doctors, other employees, that they are weak if they can't work until their due date.  I understand that what drives this mostly is the limited six weeks of paid maternity leave employers/insurance companies offer and I understand that moms want to spend every moment they can with their new baby. I get that. It seems absurd to me that just asking for the last week before a baby is born, to finish preparing and just to rest up before the baby is born, isn't much to ask. With our country ranking #29 in the world for maternal and infant mortality rates, you would think insurance companies and doctors would jump at the chance if a mom said she wanted to take care of herself before the baby is born.

Then, there is this mentality out there that any women who has a baby naturally at home or in a hospital is viewed as a feminine macho. I'm not macho. I cry like a little baby when I stub my toe. But it's ok for a mom to work, while she is exhausted, to the end of her pregnancy. What's wrong with this picture?  I'm the wuss for taking the week before my due date off, but I'm also the macho for planning a natural birth? I don't get it. When I took leave for my son, it was almost a full month before he was born. I had to beg my doctor to let me do it. She didn't want to take me out that early, but I needed to be out. I was exhausted and I just needed to nest before my first baby was born. I was also working more hours than I am now. I didn't know how to take good care of myself then, as I do now. I can say that with ease, but then when I went back to work, everyone made comments about how it was such a hard pregnancy for me. No, it wasn't. Comparatively, this one has been harder, with the morning sickness and having to deal with a two year old throughout.
But, it's that mentality. "Oh, she was weak. She couldn't make it to the end and work at the same time."
Where did this skewed idea come from? Taking care of yourself and resting when you need to rest is a sign of weakness??

No wonder we have such a horrible ranking in mortality rates. It's not the moms themselves, it's the pressure to be wonder woman while you are pregnant. To be able to keep working 40hrs a week, cook healthy meals, do the housekeeping, exercise, and have some time with their spouses. Say WHAT?? Out of all the pregnant women I have worked with, there have only been 2 out of 10 that have been able to work until the bitter end. Who had to call out of work the next day, because they had the baby.

Forget about relaxing and catching up on rest, you can do that on maternity leave.
Uh huh...........and anyone who has had a baby can tell you, there is no sleeping with a newborn in the house. Nor is there time to do the laundry, make a healthy meal, or keep your sanity (at least not without help.)
That then brings in the post partum depression rates. If we are made to feel that we need to be wonder women while we are pregnant, then of course we have to be after we have the baby.

What a crazy mental game this is to play with the bearers of our species. This is true backwards thinking in our modern era.

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