Blood, Breastmilk, and Paid Leave
and the Chamber of Mothers to drive lasting change
I am only two months postpartum. My body hurts, and I feel like taking a nap right now after hours of relentless breastfeeding and pumping but the fight for paid leave is one that is near and dear to my heart. After birthing my own four children via C-section and taking several weeks to heal, I know first hand how important it is to have paid leave that allows parents to focus on their recovery, healing, and bonding with their littles without worrying about their finances. I bled for 6 weeks after each baby and the bills and expenses didn't stop coming. I want at least six to nine months of paid leave for all mothers here in the United States, allowing women and families to breathe and ease into life with an additional person to care for.
That’s why myself and other platforms you know and love came together to form the Chamber of Mothers, a coalition to focus on mothers’ rights.
The Chambers of Mothers
Modeled after the Chamber of Commerce, the largest lobbying block in the United States, we plan to assemble one million mothers to bring communities together, amplify existing advocacy groups, and demand critical change that lasts.
Our first, urgent goal: securing legally protected federal paid family and medical leave in the United States.
Our mission is simple: Mothers in the United States deserve federal paid family and medical leave. As you may remember, we started with 12-weeks of paid leave in the Build Back Better agenda, and then it was reduced to 4-weeks which led to an uproar. And shortly after, it was completely removed, only to be added back after moms broke the internet in a unified cry for help. Of course, as the professional troublemakers we are at Mother Honestly, we led our own campaign for paid leave in conjunction with PL+US and several other platforms. I am deeply grateful for the work Erin Erenberg at Totum Women, Lauren Smith Brody at The Fifth Trimester, Daphne Delvaux at TheMamattorney , Pooja Lakshmin MD of Womens Mental Health Doc and several others have done in the last few weeks to make sure we continue to push for paid leave. This work have led to the creation of Chamber of Mothers. Thanks to these amazing mothers who have been a powerful voice amplifying this important work. Of course, what is deeply painful to all of us is that we are the ones dealing with the lack of paid leave, and the ones doing the extensive work despite our busy schedule to ensure its available to all.
Here are some amazing insights from these wonderful women that I want to share with you.
There is blood, there’s breastmilk, there is a healing pelvis
12 weeks' paid leave barely puts the US on par with the industrialized world when it comes to family leave. So when the paid leave was stricken from the budget entirely, only to be replaced by 4 weeks' leave, all I could think of was that I was still bleeding from an unmedicated, vaginal childbirth at 4 weeks' postpartum. While I'm grateful that the bill is back on the table, especially for people who need leave for different circumstances, 4 weeks is a slap in the face to mothers who are bleeding, leaking, not sleeping, and healing from the biggest physical event of most of our lives. Biden's American Families Plan became consumed by "Build Back Better," and now it feels like Congress is telling us we should build back bleeding. We're done with lawmakers turning a blind eye to the reality of motherhood; we're making noise so birthing people never feel the pressure to build back bleeding.
There's blood, there's breastmilk, there's a healing pelvis. We want lawmakers to see the reality of a new mother. The US maternal mortality rate is the highest in the world, and only 17% of those deaths happen the day after birth. And Black American women are 3 times as likely to suffer birth-related death and complications. We're done with a heads in the sand approach to maternal health. We won't be convenient anymore. We won't build back bleeding.
- Erin Erenberg | Founder & CEO, Totum Women
The Potential Impact of a Collective Power Block of Mothers
During my days lobbying for mothers' rights at the state level (CA), I was always impressed with the Chamber of Commerce and how much they got done as a collective power block. They are well-resourced and powerful because they joined forces. They know how to strategically influence the legislative branch to protect their best interests. Mothers need to do the same. There are incredible motherhood leaders, organizations and advocates, but as separate groups we will not be heard. We are joining forces. When the paid leave law failed, all of these groups expressed outcry. But they expressed outcry separately. None of the groups, on their own, will have enough power to make lasting change. Yet these groups, collectively, influence millions of people online and can make a true impact. The Chamber's mission is to align all stakeholders and take ACTION, by consolidating existing advocates and elevating their work, and by presenting as one collective power block. Mothers are tired, but they want to do more. They have had enough. The Chamber will welcome their gifts and offers, and redirect them to the right place.
- Daphne Delvaux | Founder, TheMamattorney
What It Really Means To Build Back Bleeding
When I think of #BuildBackBleeding I think of all of the women who are forced to stoically endure the ravages of postpartum while sitting at their desks in office buildings, or standing on their feet all day in service industries, and everything else women have to do while wounded and raw because our country refuses to acknowledge birth as a trauma requiring recovery.
- Alexis Barad-Cutler | Founder, Not Safe For Mom Group
Paid Leave Is A Mental Health Issue
The research on this topic is remarkably clear -- having help in those early postpartum days is imperative for the mental well-being of mothers. When moms have social support (from partner, or another caregiver) the risk of postpartum depression goes down. And, when mom suffers from postpartum depression or anxiety, the whole family is impacted. Paid parental leave is protective for the mental health of the entire family. A Swedish study found that when new fathers were given 30 days of flexible parental leave, there was a 26% decrease in anti-anxiety medication prescriptions for postpartum moms. We know that the stressors non-cis hetero parents, adoptive parents or parents who have been through IVF or losses face are even higher. Caregiver support is a healthcare issue.
Dr. Pooja Lakshmin MD, psychiatrist and author specializing in women's mental health and founder of Gemma, a women's mental health digital education platform.
In the news:
What You Need To Know About the Chamber of Mothers Campaign to Save Paid Leave That's All Over Social Media via Parents
Chamber of Mothers: a Coalition Takes on Family Paid Leave via New York Family
Join The Movement
Post THIS IMAGE on Wednesday 11/17 any time after 12 p.m. EST on Instagram and Twitter and tag @chamberofmothers.
Use the caption: Dear Congress, We can’t #BuildBackBleeding. We need federally protected paid family and medical leave. @SenSchumer #SavePaidLeave #ChamberofMothers.
Tag 3 accounts to share the image and caption to spread the message.
Sign up to join the Chamber at chamberofmothers.com and encourage followers to do the same and contact their senator paidleave.us/email-your-moc