Moms Turn To Crowdfunding To Pay For Maternity Leave Because This Is What It's Come To

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Shutterstock

With no mandated paid maternity leave in America, some moms look to crowdfunding so a baby won’t equal financial ruin

In today’s depressing dispatch from “Parenting In America” comes the news that some moms are taking desperate measures to ensure their financial security in the weeks after giving birth. They’re turning to crowdfunding in order to take a maternity leave because our country doesn’t give mothers one single dime. And it’s an absolute disgrace.

According to Buzzfeed, there are over 1200 campaigns on GoFundMe dedicated to raising money to help finance a mom’s maternity leave. With only 12% of Americans (excluding government employees) getting any kind of paid parental leave, is it any wonder that moms are looking to other methods in order to take a few weeks off after the birth of their children?

Buzzfeed talked to one couple who ran into a series of financial obstacles after finding out they were expecting. Laura Lechette and husband Shawn decided to try crowdfunding as a solution so Laura could stay at home briefly after their daughter was born.

When Laura became pregnant in June 2015, they were doing well financially. But an unforeseen need for car and home repairs (totaling about $2,000) caused the pair to fall behind on their bills. With their credit rating pummeled, they couldn’t get another type of loan and maxed out their credit cards.

The couple found it easier to ask friends and family to help than to take out loans that could hurt them in the end. Shawn says, “We went to crowd-funding because it wouldn’t hurt our credit further or put us in an even worse spot if it wound up not working out.”

The Lechette family’s scenario might sound familiar to some of you. These days, with wages remaining stagnant while the cost of just about everything else continues to rise, it’s become increasingly difficult (often, impossible) to save a substantial amount of money prior to giving birth. Buzzfeed cites a recent survey showing that as many as 63% of Americans don’t have even $1000 in savings. That’s because after paying for all the expenses the average family incurs, there isn’t much left to save.

This means that either only the wealthy or extremely comfortable get to have babies, or people need to get creative in order to build a family. Of course, there are judgmental assholes who will say that a couple shouldn’t have a baby if they can’t provide for it, but this isn’t about that.

This is about the fact that the vast majority of couples aren’t able to save the amount of money needed in order to allow a mom to remain at home for very long after giving birth. Not to mention the fact that not all pregnancies are planned. All of this means some women return to work far sooner than they should have to and it’s something we should be ashamed of as citizens of a western nation.

As one of only two countries in the world (high five, Papua New Guinea!) without mandated paid maternity leave, we continue to miserably fail our new mothers and their families. For a country full of citizens so quick to say we are the “greatest” nation in the world, that’s really fucking sucky.

There’s nothing great about forcing women to beg their families for a few thousand bucks so they can stay home while still bleeding post-birth. So they can actually get to know their new babies before being thrust back into the grind. Christ, so they can even stay home long enough that any reputable daycare would take their babies, which is usually a minimum of six weeks old.

We have a long climb before our government does right by moms and their babies. It isn’t fair to expect a family to save tons of money and scrimp and save just so a mom can have a decent maternity leave. Every other developed nation shows more respect and understanding to its working families, why can’t we?

Hopefully in this election year, we can make our voices heard. It’s about time we got this very basic thing that every mom deserves — a few weeks of leave to recover from childbirth without having to worry about the lights being shut off. It’s the least a “great” nation can do for some of its most vulnerable citizens.

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