For some moms, it was always a part of the plan. For others, those few weeks on maternity leave was way too short—commutes, daycare costs and added stress made the prospect of going back to work break-even at best in terms of finances and time.
It's not secret: maternity leave in the U.S sucks. 12 or fewer (unpaid) weeks simply isn’t enough time recover from childbirth, establish a really solid milk supply or feel ready to leave a baby at daycare for a majority of first-time moms. It should come as no surprise that women who planned to remain in the workforce after becoming a parent feel as if they have no choice but to quit working for a while to care for their child.
But quitting work to stay home with an infant—and often eventually a toddler, a second baby and so on—creates a gap in the resume, one that potential new employers see as a negative. Instead of recognizing how bad policy leaves many women and families with no choice, they negatively judge applicants for taking a career break in order to do the hard work of parenting a small child.
And it's this problem of a negative attitude toward moms who made the difficult choice to put their careers on hold when offered inadequately paid leave that Mother New York hopes to solve with a feature on Linked In called The Pregnancy Pause.
What it does is give stay-at-home moms an official job title to eliminate gaps in their work history. When the time comes to update your profile, simply enter your desired job title (like “Mom” or “Domestic Goddess”), plug in a description of your responsibilities at home and search for The Pregnancy Pause in the employer field.
In addition to giving moms new options for filling the gaps in their resume, Mother New York also raises awareness about abysmal maternity leave policies, which are the norm in the U.S. If a potential employer is curious about a LinkedIn profile they see The Pregnancy Pause link which sends them over to read all about why a woman might choose to allow a few years to go by without gainful employment.
I hated even thinking that being a working woman and a mom weren’t compatible.
As a working mom of three, this really hits home. I left my first job out of college a few weeks after my oldest daughter was born simply because there was no flexibility for an extended maternity leave. There was no option to return part-time either—not even for a couple of months until I felt ready to hit it full time again.
As a consequence, I've had to be creative about my work and the jobs I take. I worked overnights at a hospital while pregnant with my second, and I took care of my toddler during the day. I have cleaned schools and churches after my kids went to bed and worked the front desk at hotels. I’m grateful for this time, because it really pushed me to pursue freelance writing, which is what I mostly do now. That said, I also remember how frustrating it was to constantly feel like my pregnancies were the reason I couldn’t advance in any job I held. I hated even thinking that being a working woman and a mom weren’t compatible.
I’m hopeful that maternity leave in our country is going to change soon. For now, though, I'll take any chance I get to join others in speaking up about how unfriendly the workforce is for new moms. I'm glad it is becoming the new norm. It's time employers knew it.