How does a mother’s place of work impact her options when experiencing miscarriage?
The benefits of breastfeeding friendly workplaces are becoming more widely recognized and workplaces are creating intentional places for mothers to pump breastmilk while at work. With a private room, comfortable chair and stool, and a mini refrigerator to store the milk, mothers can pump and work, both with efficiency.
While this seeming new trend may seem to speak directly to the new mothers with living babies, mothers who experience stillbirth also too experience lactation, and her pumping of her breastmilk is an option the newly bereaved mother may consider.
I believe that breastfeeding friendly workplaces are only a start to the incredible gaps in workplace support that mothers endure. That there are substantial disparities in parental rights in the workplace is arguably no more glaringly apparent than the mother who is experiencing birth early in pregnancy.
Obstetricians know it. The birth of a baby not alive in the first trimester can, without medical assistance, be quite unpredictable. Labor can seem to start, then stall, then seem to disappear altogether, for hours or even days. A mother may only know she’s in labor by the unanticipated blood she encounters.
Because this journey can seem to be an unpredictable, delayed, exaggerated stretch of torment, agony and blood, it can seem quite impractical for the mother to simply wait at home throughout the entire labor and birth of her beloved baby.
“I don’t want to give birth at work.”
This aspect of the mother’s life holds a substantial impact on a very intimate and important family decision.
And so mothers may choose D&C, a medically assisted birth.
D&C – in fact, all medically assisted birth options – are incredibly important and they are needed.
What I propose though, is that the family make a family decision that is not quite so greatly impacted by their workplace.
What would a birth friendly workplace look like?
Here are some special considerations for the mother who is able and chooses to labor without more medical assistance, and who spends some of that laboring while at work:
- Time off however possible
- FMLA for all families
- Considerations for staff who need to work in uniform or dress code
- An individual bathroom option (rather than or in addition to stalls)
- Non-automatic flush
- A family member or SBD doula to meet the mom at work
- Someone at work who is SBD certified to build a company emergency kit and who can serve well
These are just a couple of ideas for a very complicated challenge both to the workplace and to families. Because every single minute an American mother experiences miscarriage, we need to gain more awareness of how to support well. We are all impacted and we all need to engage: individuals, neighbors, co-workers, medical staff, and more. We all have an opportunity to participate to bring love into an impossible journey.
We have birth kit suggestion lists here at stillbirthday for birth in any trimester, and we have speakers who can present a workplace birth preparedness presentation to your place of work.