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Women are turning to the Internet to create maternity leave GoFundMe pages, and it's genius. Because let's face it; the United States is the only developed country that doesn't require paid maternity leave, which has many parents struggling to find a way to cover baby costs.
The Today Show recently highlighted this issue and spoke with a couple of moms facing maternity leave with no financial support from their employers.
When 24-year-old Nicole Richie found out she was expecting her first child, she was excited. Like many expectant parents, the Roanoke, Va., hairstylist and her husband put pen to pad and figured out a budget. Despite getting help from friends and family, Nicole is concerned about the couples' finances.
After hearing about women launching crowdfunding sites to make up for paid maternity leave, she decided to start her own and hopes to raise enough money to cover six weeks of employment.
Another Virginia mom, Jennifer Warren Baker is a self-employed musician, also facing the same dilemma with the impending arrival of her fourth child.
Like many women in their shoes, both Nicole and Jennifer want to do everything they can to financially support their growing families. However, footing the bill themselves is virtually impossible considering that The Family Medical Leave Act doesn't ensure that moms will get paid time off from work for the full 12 weeks of their maternity leave.
When it comes to the cost of having a baby, you can expect to shell out a pretty penny. According to a 2013 USDA report, the average middle-income family will spend about $14,000 on child-related costs during their baby's first year.
When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, I was shocked to find out that my maternity leave only covered about five weeks for a normal vaginal delivery. The remaining time was covered by sick and personal time off, hours previously worked, along with vacation time I had previously saved up.
My husband, on the other hand, did receive a week of paternity leave through FMLA. But, the remaining two weeks he decided to take was paid for using vacation time he had accrued.
Fortunately, we were able to adjust our finances accordingly to cover our growing expenses, even with a ton of hidden hospital costs that weren't covered by our insurance that left us grappling to keep our head above water.
When we welcomed our son a few years later, we were in a better financial position. But with a growing family, our obligations more than doubled. So I can certainly understand why so many women are turning to crowdfunding to try and cover baby costs.
There are some people who may say that women shouldn't be having babies if they can't afford to have them. It's also possible that there may be a few dishonest people who may take advantage of the situation. But I think situations are much more nuanced than that, and this is a great idea for those who are truly in need.
It's all about coming up with creative ways to overcome adversities. ("When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," right?) Turning to crowdfunding to cover maternity leave is something more moms may want to consider, if faced with economic hardship.
And hopefully more employers and government officials will see this as a call to step up to the plate and extend paid parental leave. (San Francisco is already taking the first step with their latest policy.)