Rethinking Maternity Benefits for American Moms
by Dianna He, 2Y 2018
When I came to business school, I had a list of things I wanted to do. Learning about pregnant and postpartum mothers was most certainly not on that list.
Now before you stop reading and jump to conclusions… No, I didn’t get knocked up. And no, I don’t have an “announcement” to share.
Coming from China, where there is such a focus on the mom and her needs during the postnatal period (it’s customary for there to be a “sit the moon” period of 40-100 days of rest for new moms), I was surprised to see my mom friends, classmates, and coworkers here in the U.S. go through a very different experience. Even in Europe, not only do both parents typically have better leave policies, but it’s not unheard of for the government to pay for in-home nannies or nurses. (The French government even pays for each new mom to have up to 20 sessions of pelvic physical therapy!) Whereas in America, we live not only in a baby-first culture, but one in which systemic support and policies for new parents leave much to be desired. The last thing a new mom thinks about is herself.
Over the past year and more than 300 interviews later, I found myself scratching my head as to why healthcare providers are still the only ones who agree that the mom’s health must come first. Much like the airplane analogy – moms have to put the oxygen mask on themselves first before putting it on anyone else.
This all makes logical sense. So why is there still so much mommy-shaming, unsolicited advice, and judging going on? We as a society have yet to internalize that self care is not selfish – for new moms, especially.
And that’s how I ended up becoming an accidental advocate for a fundamental shift in how we view maternal health and support for moms in this country. It’s about making sure that we don’t forget about mom after she gives birth. Because, let’s face it, too often in this modern world, a mom will focus on the kids and everything else before she gives herself permission to take care of herself, if at all.
Today, on International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements of the women who raised us, the women who gave us life, the women whose own health sets the foundation for the health of the next generation.
Join me in building a future where all moms have the support they need. Share a photo of a mom who inspires you. Tag her to show that you support her in taking care of herself, and that you support her in her efforts to nurture and support her child.
#SelfCareisnotSelfish #MomToo #IWD2018 #PressforProgress
Dianna He is the founder and CEO of Sit the Moon Health, a turnkey solution for companies that want to optimize maternal health outcomes for their employees while containing cost.