I’m the breadwinner for my family and while I love my work, after the birth of my second child, I needed some time to let my body heal and not sink into the postpartum depression that plagued me after the birth of my first child. I was working for a conservative, pro-life national organization at the time. I was pregnant when they hired me and I wasn’t able to accrue hardly any vacation or sick leave by the time I had my baby. They didn’t have any kind of maternity leave policy in place either, and still don’t to my knowledge.
You know how much time I had off? Two weeks. And I had to make up that time by accruing sick and vacation leave for the next year so couldn’t take any paid leave for doctor appointments and ob-gyn checkups. This is how little my worth was to them – or at least that’s how I felt.
Staving off a mental breakdown
I was working from home but the job was stressful and the hours long. I used to have my baby sleeping in my lap while I answered emails, breastfeeding her while on conference calls. I traveled across the country with her when she was five months old because I was nursing her and refused to leave her at home. I look back on that trip and cannot believe I pulled it off without having a mental breakdown. Or at least I hid all those feelings well in the recesses of my heart. It was stressful.
I had zero time to heal my body and start processing all those post-birth hormones that surged after delivery. I was mad about the situation. Although I did my best at my job, focusing was hard. Being a working mom is hard enough when you are trying to shift focus between your job and your kids and family – add in the fact that I knew I missing key moments of solely focusing on the baby. It was a recipe for disaster. But I got through it. Probably not well.
Truly advocating for mothers
I’m not alone though. About 23 percent of new moms go back to work two weeks after giving birth. No wonder so many moms struggle with postpartum depression, anger, sadness, stress and all those feelings that are so difficult to handle after birth.
The kicker for me was that I worked for an organization that was supposed to be an advocate for mothers yet didn’t treat their own employees with the same dignity. They and other organizations like them need to be the ones leading the charge for mothers to have the necessary time off to heal and bond with their babies. You cannot say you want to make abortion an unthinkable option if you don’t set the standard for one of the biggest financial reasons women have abortions.
But what about the cost? Totally valid question, especially for non-profits. Overall though, this question boils down to how valuable is a good employee to an organization? As a company, what is a good employee, who happens to be a mother, worth to you?
Logic is helpful here: if an organization takes care of their employees, works to boost morale with excellent policies, including a paid maternity leave policy, they will attract good, happy employees who will be more productive, serving the mission of the organization effectively and efficiently. You may have worked at a company where morale is in the tank, where employees all complain about their work, their pay, their lack of benefits, etc. People working there won’t do their best for the company and they won’t stay in that job unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Paid maternity leave is a family issue, not a political one. A 2018 Cato Institute survey states that 74% of Americans are in favor of 12 weeks of paid family leave. Again, the question has to be answered – what is a mother who works hard and is a good employee, worth to a company?