Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

You’ve had a wonderful time at home getting to know your new baby. But now, it’s time to go back to work. You’re feeling a range of emotions – anxiety over returning to an inbox full of emails, mom guilt over leaving your baby at daycare for the first time, but simultaneously looking forward to feeling more like your old self. We’re breaking down all these emotions and more today to hopefully give you some peace of mind as you prepare for the transition. Plus, what rights you have as a new parent re-entering the workplace?

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Episode Transcript

Natalie Gross 0:07
You've had a wonderful time at home getting to know your new baby. But now it's time to go back to work. You're feeling a range of emotions anxiety over returning to an inbox full of emails, mom guilt over leaving your baby at daycare for the first time, but also simultaneously looking forward to feeling more like your old self. or breaking down all of these emotions and more today to hopefully give you some peace of mind as you prepare for the transition. Plus, what rights you have as a new parent re entering the workplace. This is Newbies.

Natalie Gross 1:09
Welcome to Newbies. Newbies is your online on the go support group guiding new mothers through their baby's first year. I'm Natalie Gross, mom to a three year old boy and a girl on the way. We've got a great show for you today talking about what to expect when you return to work after maternity leave. Now if you haven't already, be sure to visit our website at And subscribe to our weekly newsletter, which keeps you updated on all the episodes we release each week. Another great way to stay updated is to hit that subscribe button in your podcast app. And if you're looking for a way to get even more involved with our show, then check out our membership club. It's called Mighty Moms. That's where we chat more about the topics discussed here on our show. And it's also an easy way to learn about our recording so you can join us live. Now let's meet the mamas joining our conversation today. Mom's tell us your name, location and a little bit about your family and experience with today's topic. Lisa, do you want to kick us off?

Lisa Myers 2:03
Sure, absolutely. This is really fantastic to be here. Natalie. This is a great group you've put together and I've loved all of the past podcasts. So I feel like more than a pro I am that I actually am speaking to you. But my name is Lisa Myers. I am a mother of two kids. My daughter is seven, my son is three, I was breastfeeding through the pandemic. So that little stinker got more breastfeeding than I would have been up for otherwise. But I'm like who stops breastfeeding in the middle of a pandemic. So that guy really, really want out. But I am an attorney. I live in Seattle, Washington, but I'm also the managing partner for my firm's Vancouver Canada office. So I've always done a lot of travel. And I would say that my experience with breastfeeding and returning to work with my daughter, I have a ton of mom guilt, which I think is pretty common thing which I'm always actively trying to get over. But I failed to breastfeed with my daughter in that I supplemented a ton pretty much from day one for a million reasons, and then only made it to six months when I took my first big work trip and I came back and she was really having none of it. My boob did not move around the room the way a bottle does. And so she was she was done. And I was probably pretty much out. And so that's the way that went. But with my son, I was determined and so we made it work. So I was in the office and I went back to work after having him after three months, and then the pandemic hit. And so we kept going. I stopped breastfeeding him in about two. So yeah, that's my that's my long story. But I think it's like a lot of winding journeys for many moms returning to work. I've had hits and misses for sure.

Jen Judson Vastola 3:55
Hi, everybody. I'm Jen Jutson Vastola and I have a three year old and a two year old. There's 17 months apart. I am a journalist. I cover the military at defense news. And I'm also currently the I'm 115, the president of the National Press Club this year, so I took on an extra full time job that isn't paid, but has been a great experience. And of course, my husband has been very supportive taking care of our two toddlers. During this time. I have two very different experiences. Going back to work with my boys, my oldest I went back to work in an office the same day he had his first day at daycare. That was how I expected but a huge handle, at least in terms of the pumping at work experience. I not only pumped in an office but I pumped everywhere I was reporting so that meant traveling I I've pumped in a Lithuanian military camp. I've pumped on the side of the road and in a state park in Washington State With the four star general waiting for me, all kinds of weird experiences there. So I'm a pumping pro in weird situations. But then I had a pandemic, baby and I stayed home. So, you know, like Lisa, I got to be able to breastfeed my baby. And during breaks or while working throughout the pandemic, that was kind of a cool experience, but also a humongous handful. And I always felt like pumping, kind of took me away from the work I needed to do throughout the day. So finding that balance was always tough. But I know we'll dive further into that soon.

Natalie Gross 5:34
Thank you so much, Jen. Casey, what about you?

Casey Moore 5:37
Hi, my name is Casey Moore. I am also an attorney. And I am in New Bern, North Carolina, very small town. And I am also a military spouse, my husband is active duty Marine Corps. So I had a really fun experience going back to work, my daughter is six months old. So I went back to work just a few months ago. And my first back to work was also her first day at daycare while my husband was overseas. So I am not only an attorney, going back to work, but I'm also the default parent. And I was the only one here. I was on my own, I think six to eight weeks. So that was an interesting experience. And we have been exclusively formula feeding, which has also been really fun the past two months. So yeah, happy to be here. And I'm sure we'll get into a lot more soon.

Natalie Gross 6:33
Yeah, thank you, mama so much for sharing your experiences. So rapid fire. Before we take a quick break, I want to know what was going through your head the first day back at work, because I know for me with my son. Like a lot of people have mom guilt. I was having mom guilt for being so excited to be back at work. Does anyone relate to that at all?

Casey Moore 6:53
Yeah, I was excited to go back because it meant that I wasn't 24/7, the only one with my daughter, which made me feel like a terrible person because I was the only parent here. So I was excited and terrified.

Jen Judson Vastola 7:09
I think for me, I was probably more nervous about taking this is for my first son more nervous about taking him to daycare for the first time and like leaving him alone, that I barely paid attention to the fact that I was also returning to work. But I do remember, it felt like a band aid like we dropped off our son and I was just a big ball of nerves. And then the minute the door closed at the daycare and we walked back to the car was like oh my gosh, big sigh of relief. This is the kind of the first time I can be myself again. And I headed off to work. And it felt like all of a sudden everything was back to normal. I would say that one of the things that that made me really stress though, is just feeling like you can't perform I think like you did before baby, you know, you you feel like you have to live up to something more like everyone's watching you to make sure that you jump right back in and you give the same performance. And you know, for me, you produce the same amount of stories and break coverage and break news. And you'll have the same level of coverage that I had before. So I put a lot of pressure on myself that I wish that I had it just getting started back at work.

Natalie Gross 8:19
Absolutely. And then you just feel all eyes on you as you go to take a pumping break. And you're like, Yeah, I have to do this three, four times a day. Sorry everyone.

Lisa Myers 8:28
Yeah, I remember that. This is Lisa, real quick. So for me, I went back and I can I can actually relate to both Jen and Casey I was, I was excited to go back to work and, you know, make sure I could still hang with all the boys. I'm in a group that's pretty much all men. I felt like I hadn't given it a ton of thought I wasn't somebody that had a huge stash. But together, I given myself permission to supplement if I needed to, I could pump just enough each day for the next day. And so when I would travel, and I'd have to dump my milk out, that would mean we would have to supplement with formula. But I had given myself permission to do that. And I think that that was a really big deal for me being able to return and not feel like a failure if I needed to do that. But I remember going back and I felt so proud of myself that on top of everything else. I had all of my pump parts and I pumped and I even managed to extract milk What a miracle. And it's all lined up on my desk and I thought hmm, I'm partway now what do I do? I didn't really introduce this aspect before but I invented a breast milk chiller because I did not want to have a another bag and another massive cooler and so I was not having any of that. And my husband is also in the military. He just got back from deployment in Iraq. And I was like no, no more bags, no more stress, no more stuff. And so I came I'm up with the chiller because I could not have, you know, a bunch of Telltale bottles lined up on my desk every time these guys walked in, and they would look at me and look at my breasts and look at me. And wow, we see you're actively lactating, you could see the thought, like, pass over their face, it's like as they would talk to me about a case and like, why can't there be something slightly more subtle than what is going on here right now. So that was, that was my experience, I was excited. And I also realized that there were so many elements that that I had not considered. Also, I would wear, I don't know if this happened to you guys. But I would wear my like work suits. And like a fool. I was like, there is no pump access for this. I mean, this is why there's so many amazing, you know, women founded companies out there that have really, really great work and casual clothing, because I would wear my you know, whatever fancy linen or polyester blend suits or whatever, and I would have zero access. And I would be stripping down in what whatever room or office was available to try to try to pump before I would make the mad dash to get home. So yeah, it was it was kind of kind of similar with also layers of poor planning by me.

Natalie Gross 11:16
All right, we're gonna definitely touch more on that.

Natalie Gross 11:25
Today on Newbies, we're talking about returning to work after maternity leave, there gonna be so much mom guilt about leaving your baby or anxiety about what to expect when you re enter the workplace. Plus, if you're a nursing mom, as you've just heard, you may be trying to navigate pumping for the first time, which is its own thing entirely. So how do you set yourself up for success in this transition? And what rights if any, are you guaranteed after returning to the office? Our expert today is Amy Beacom, founder of theCenter for Parental Leave Leadership. It's an organization that works with both companies and parents on the transition back to work after parental leave. So Amy, thanks so much for joining us. And welcome to Newbies.

Amy Beacom 12:03
Thank you so much. It is a pleasure to be here. I love love this.

Natalie Gross 12:08
Yeah, well, we know that maternity and parental leave policies can differ greatly, depending on where people live or the companies that they work for. So are there any common basic rights that moms listening to this can expect to have when they go back to work?

Amy Beacom 12:23
No. I think one of the things that I love about this group is we have two lawyers on the call. I am not a lawyer, my background I should just say quickly is an organizational psychology. So I came out this 15 years ago, when I had my first child to create a field that I saw missing that it was at the time I was calling maternity coaching and is now parental leave coaching and consulting. And so CPLL, my company, is the only consultancy in the country to focus exclusively on parental leave. And what we're looking at really is everything from policy to practice. But policy is a huge animal that I have many people on my staff that helped with. But for your listeners, they probably already know that the United States is basically the only country in the world there's four to seven, depending on the time of year, that also don't have paid leave. So there's no guaranteed paid leave, that's always a good place to start because many people confuse FMLA with paid leave FMLA is an unpaid job protection, that only about 56% of our country has access to the Family Medical Leave Act, sorry, the Family Medical Leave Act. So really what people need to understand is there are very few protections in the US for either pregnant or returning parents. There are more if you fall on if you work for a company that falls under FMLA. So that's your first place to look is your company FMLA company? If so, what are you covered for there in terms of job protection, that may mean that you have your job for protected for 12 weeks, you can use that intermittently in some cases. So really looking at that with your HR if you do have that, if not, you do not even have job protection, but there are well let me talk about the pregnant. This is you're talking about the return but I just for anyone listening who's pregnant. There is an act called the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was proposed back in 2012. And has been reintroduced every session of Congress and has still not passed it did just pass the House in May. So it is with the Senate now and has a better chance than it has in the past of passing. It's fairly aligned with the ADA the American and just Disabilities Act. Wait, I'm saying that wrong. If if anyone wants to unmute, and correct me there. So when you return to Office, the only rights you have would be some protection under Obamacare gives us workers the right to take unpaid breaks at work to pump milk, and require some employers to find a clean, private place. That's not a bathroom for employees to pump milk. That law though, only applies to workers and employees who are covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act, FLSA. And that law sets minimum wage and overtime requirements. So it The short answer is not much. And it varies by state and by employer. And some cases by city.

Natalie Gross 15:51
Okay, so make sure people read up on their maternity leave policies before leaving.

Amy Beacom 15:57
Absolutely. And I would just point people to there's a wonderful organization called a better balance. So it's a better And if you go to have better, forward slash, no dash your dash rights, you can look by state and see which laws apply to you specifically for your state, because it is very different at the state level.

Natalie Gross 16:26
Okay. And for anyone curious that law was the Americans with Disabilities Act. Amy, in your work with parents, you've identified various touch points or areas that need to be navigated well throughout the league to ensure a smooth transition back into the workplace. And I know from reading your story about your own return to work that a lot of this is very personal work to you. So can you talk about some of these touch points and how you coach parents along these lines?

Amy Beacom 16:52
I think I want to bring it back to Jen and Casey and Lisa's stories. So a lot of what they're you grapple with on your return are things that you don't expect when you leave, right. And it's mostly because we don't have a process or a shared language around how leave preparing for leave during leave and returning from leave happened in this country. So in my work, I set around to change that. So what I've found over the last eight to 15 years doing this work, both in the US and in other countries, is that everyone navigates through these moments that we call these 10 touch points throughout this time, and the way you interact around them has an oversized impact on how you experience your leave. If it's a good experience, if it's a horrible experience, how you're prepared how you communicate with your team and manager, what those are just so that it will make sense for the return. I'll just say real quickly what they are the the first one is announcement sort of how you have that announcement. The second one is assessment that's assessing your situation yourself everything that's going on for you. And we put that in second position before the third one, which is action planning, which is leave your leave planning, I often say the best way to prepare for leave is to plan your return. And in many cases, most cases in this country, people are not thinking about their return when they're planning for leaves, they're just thinking about their shower their nursery or off boarding their work, but they're not setting themselves up well for that return. And then during leave the three of sorry, there's one more the acknowledging the transition to parenthood is that first that that last one of that phase. And then during leave, we have appropriately keeping in touch deciding how you want to stay in touch with work, if at all, advocating for yourself both at home and at work with providers. And then arrangements for return is the last one of that face. So you're really starting to move your focus back to your return and thinking about okay, now that I have welcomed this child into my life, and then my family, what are our needs? How are they different from when what we thought they would be when I went on leave? Because they always are in some way, or they usually are. And so for those last that last phase, they're returning from leave phase. We have that counterpoint to that and acknowledge the transition to parenthood but this one, we're asking you to pause and acknowledge that transition to working parenthood. What does this moment mean? I think Jen talked about being nervous about daycare on that first day back and what does it mean when you're handing that child off? And her case she's very excited because she got to go feel what it felt like to be normal again, that is what you said and that you can't perform without that. So for some people, it's really exciting for others. It's not but it's always a huge, huge part of the transition. Should and so putting in any dry runs, practicing, you know, anything you can to think about there. And then the next one is adjustment. And that's really about thinking of this as a longer term adjustment and framing it that way so that you're not putting it all on your shoulders to jump right back in and be doing everything the exact same way that you did before you left. And then the last one is access to ongoing career development. And that is, as it sounds, just building in time and thoughts and that you build whatever you would like for your career going forward based on where you are now, instead of where you might have been before that child joined your family. So it was a little long, but a speed round of what the touch points are.

Natalie Gross 20:46
Thank you so much, Amy, those are really great things to think about. When we come back, we're going to hear from our moms about how they prepared for the transition back to work, what went well, as well as how they navigated challenges along the way.

Natalie Gross 21:04
We are continuing our discussion with Amy Beacom of the Center for Parental Leave Leadership and our panel of moms today. So before the break, Amy was sharing how parents can prepare for a smooth transition back into their jobs. Mom's How did you mentally and physically prepare for the transition back to work? And is there anything you wish you would have known that you want to tell new moms listening to this podcast?

Casey Moore 21:26
What I would tell new moms is kind of a little bit more. Now I know we're talking about preparing about going back to work. But I would go back to like getting ready to leave and looking at policies. My firm was six male attorneys, I was the first attorney in that office in a decade. They there was no policy on maternity leave, they had no idea what to do with me. I tried to sit down multiple times and talk to my boss, things like that. So my focus and my advice is kind of more, make sure you have a plan before you leave, maybe have something in writing, which sounds like it would be common sense. But it wasn't in in my situation. But preparing for going back to work was also up in the air for me because I didn't have a plan for when I was going on leave. And I was a first year associate. I had been previously licensed in California and had worked a couple of years. But I was a first year associate at a firm here in North Carolina, which anyone familiar with the legal field, at least a will notice the first year associates typically in the office very late gets there early can be sometimes the last person to leave. So in my transition preparing to go back to work, it was a real struggle for me, because my spouse was also not here. And I had to pick up my daughter from daycare at a certain point. And I would sometimes be in court until five. And I had a 45 minute drive. And I had to get her before six. So it was a lot of logistics for me preparing to go back to work that I kind of feel like didn't really have a lot to do with, you know, physically going back or the mom guilt. It was a lot of I need a plan for how I'm going to logistically get through my day, which I hadn't anticipated.

Jen Judson Vastola 23:21
I think one of the challenges for me going back that, you know, I think it's almost impossible to prepare for particularly with my job as a reporter is that I don't have a skirt. And I think that's also the case with lawyers, you don't know when you're going to be in trial or when you're going to be office or whatever the case is. But you know, from any given day, I had no idea maybe where I'd be or what was going to come up or if there was breaking news. So there was this anxiety that I was going to miss an important story because I had to pick up my son from daycare and, and like Casey I had to be there by six o'clock or they charge you $15 a minute where I am, which is rather punitive. So you know, there's there's no being slightly late for that type of responsibility. So, you know, I remember just feeling that crazy level of anxiety and just not being able to plan my day. And I think that's something I kind of forgot during maternity leave because you have this really nice schedule or it's naps and feedings, and, you know, just staring and snuggling at your baby, and then you get thrown back into kind of this unpredictable pool of work stress. And for me also, I'll jump in and talk a little bit about my leave. So my company and I've been seeing some improvements in the journalism world and other news organizations for leave, but I would say three months is just not enough. That's just how long companies will hold your job. But for me, I had a month of paid leave. And I had I think about six weeks of short term just ability that I could use where I was able to get 60% of my pay, which was that was okay. But I don't think I was totally ready to go back at three months, I think maybe for my first I would have liked to have been home for six months, maybe I would have been itching to go back to work by then. But I certainly wasn't by three months. So that was just my personal experience of that. And I think the other reason why I really wanted to take time off before having the baby just, you know, a couple of weeks leading up. And I didn't do that. And it's mainly because I wanted to save all of my leave for after the baby was born. So I wish that there was a little bit more that our workplaces did for women preparing to go on leave or preparing to have a baby. Because I certainly couldn't focus on anything with the fact that I was about to have my first baby, let alone focus on work. So that's just something I really wish that I would like to see in our society a little bit more in the US.

Natalie Gross 26:00
Yeah, that's so true. Because I had one day I had 16 hours of contractions one day, and it ended up being like false labor, Braxton Hicks or whatever. But thankfully, my boss had let me work from home, like the two weeks leading up to delivery, because I can't imagine having gone through that in the office or like, even broaching that subject with my boss. So yeah, it would be great if companies had a little bit more flexibility. And I was grateful to have that. Lisa, do you have anything to add about how you prepared or advice for new moms listening on how they can prepare?

Lisa Myers 26:33
If moms take anything away from this call? I think that I would say Jen and Casey are really impressive women and, you know, clear thinkers, and obviously, in my opinion, would be good advocates for themselves. And we all struggle, you would think that lawyers would have it figured out or if they're in a law firm that their colleagues would know the law. And so it would be simplified. I mean, I don't know, or at least straightforward. I can't even imagine what it's like to be a mom who's working an hourly job who has to go back within a week or two of giving birth to keep up with diapers and formula or whatever else she needs. And then try to pump I think being as forgiving of ourselves as possible, as society tries to catch up with how amazing we all are. And everything that we're trying to pull off every day, I think is the main thing to keep in mind to say like to advocate for yourself, or to know the law to know the rules, Amy's done a great job of laying it out. But you know, FMLA only covers and Amy can correct me, you know, it only covers companies with at least 50 employees. And that is not that's that's there's a significant amount of women who are going back to work who are not in companies that have to adhere to those laws. But I think I think as hard as it can be. And as challenging and awful, as some of those circumstances are. Some of it is just plain sweet, not malicious ignorance, because I went back to work, not knowing what I needed. And I think that maybe if I would have put myself rather than like my career, trying to keep up with the boys a bit out in front, or then a clear communicator about, oh, I just need a quiet room, or I just need, you know, cool places or my milk that I know will be safe. Or I think that you know, there are probably a lot of very sympathetic and understanding bosses out there, whether they're women who had children 20 years ago, men who've never had children or who have five but never breastfed them or, or even tried to get back to daycare on time to Jen's point. I mean, these so many of these guys are like, I don't understand, like, we're all like sitting in this conference room. Like, why do you have to rush out or we're all going out for a beer like, what's your problem, like, you know, it's not that big of a deal. You just want to scream like, I don't know how much money you have. Or clearly you've never had to pick up from daycare before. But this is really, really important in this precise minute. So for me having spare pump parts, verb, like something as simple as that, like the really cheap stuff, not a spare pump. I mean, if you have a good friend who can give you a pump, or if you have extra money rattling around, that's great, but even just pump parts, flanges or even a hand pump or like the hoses. I remember one day I let my daughter play with the hoses like I was so exhausted, I came home, she was playing with the hoses and I thought, Oh, what the heck and the next morning at work, I'm like, You're an idiot. Like I know where those hoses are. They are in my living room behind the couch like I know right where they are. So I had to order them and that day I managed to Get Amazon, you know, like two hour delivery because I'm lucky enough to be in Seattle. And I had to have a minimum order of like $25 to get it delivered to my office. And so I ordered myself some like, white claw, too, because I'm like, oh, I need all these things right now. So, yeah, I would say that there are the laws, and then there is being forgiving of yourself and being understanding that no one has it figured out not your boss, and probably not you going into it. And you just have to do the best you can. And be forgiving of yourself. I mean, you have to be a relentless advocate of yourself and your child, unfortunately, if you're going to make it all work, but I think all of us moms are up to it. I see it every day. And I'm really lucky to be in such good company. Like I said, I invented a chiller. And I would have never felt camaraderie with moms like I do now. I never thought of myself as a good mom. And it's just cool to see all the women that are making it happen every day. And so it sounds like that's what Jen and Casey did. I mean, I can't even imagine Casey as an associate in a firm. I was a mid level partner, because I got pregnant so late I was a geriatric pregnancy for both. I think it's geriatric, and then ancient because 35 and then 40. Yeah, it was, I can't even imagine being an associate. You're a frickin hero. And Jen, I don't even know what it's like to be a journalist. So yeah, hats off to you guys, because it's not easy. And you got to you got to just wake up and keep doing it.

Natalie Gross 31:33
Amy, you know, we've been talking about this concept of advocating for ourselves as moms, what tips would you have for new parents about knowing when and how to advocate for themselves in the workplace, I mean, so the employer is having them pumped in a bathroom, for example.

Amy Beacom 31:50
First, I just have to say that I was laughing loudly on mute, as Lisa was talking, I was imagining geriatric, White Claw drinking, like all of us want to be, right? And everything everyone said, I echo I think the, the piece about advocating, that's why I have a whole touchpoint devoted to it, I wrote a book during the pandemic, which is the first book to have an evidence base for navigating this timeframe, the part that I call the penalty of transition, that whole three phases I was talking about. It's called the parental leave playbook. And it is, I noticed today that it was for sale on Amazon. So they have random sales all the time. And Jim, grab it. But what it there's an entire section devoted to how to advocate for yourself things to practice what to do. But the whole framing of it is to really empower the new parent to lead their leave. In the absence of any normalized process in the US, I mean, we're just working in a horrible, horrible SIS system and situation. And while we're working to fix the system, everyone needs to be able to get through it and survive it. So advocating for yourself is one of the main ways to do that. And I think, in addition to what everyone said, so far, approaching your advocacy efforts as a conversation, rather than what we're so naturally inclined to do, which is more adversarial, like, I need this, you need to give it to me, this is my right, we're talking about rights. But because we don't have a lot of them, we need to also be understanding that this is a conversation that we can use to deepen our relationships, to strengthens our bonds with our co workers, with our managers with our jobs, as we work together to find Win Win solution. So I'm a real believer that that's possible. And that there's times where you really have to advocate. So in a situation where you're, you know, milks coming out in a meeting, because they haven't put in a pumping break, it might be a good moment to point out the Army's new policy on parental leave. And where they have 30 minute pump breaks every two to three hours, or you know, different things like like that, where you can say, hey, best practices this, I don't want this to sound like a sales pitch. But really the best thing to do is that to have managers trained within companies and have leadership coached around these things, because these are systemic issues that have really simple solutions. And right now we're in a situation where all of our new moms are having to reinvent this and fight for themselves at every turn. And as soon as we can shift that structure, and that culture within the organization. So it just becomes the way that we do things. Well, they don't have to anymore and they can spend time where it really actually matters. So I would say that, know your rights, of course, as a backup plan to those good conversations, engage your champions if there are other people within the organization who really are going to help you to advocate for yourself, learn from them, bring them in, if there's an employee resource group that you can tap into do that. Just know your policies, know where you can and cannot have a flexible work schedule. But even with that, don't assume, don't assume that the other person is going to say, no, they may not have done it. But to I think it was, Lisa said this. These are not malicious people or situations, usually they're just ill informed. So we usually if someone goes up to their manager, or HR team member and says, Hey, you might not know this, but I X, Y, and Z need to do this, then they they're like, oh, gosh, I really didn't know that let's let's change this so that you don't have to do it that crappy way anymore. But you're setting the tone, and they're looking to you to lead it everyone in this country is terrified of saying the wrong thing, hurting someone's feelings or worse, like setting off a a pregnancy discrimination or gender discrimination lawsuit. So they're going to be looking to you until we have some standardized ways of doing it in the US.

Natalie Gross 36:16
Amy, what about moms dealing with severe anxiety or postpartum depression? Are there any specific resources that you would recommend for extra support as they head back to work?

Amy Beacom 36:26
Yes, absolutely. Thank you for asking that. One of our partner organization is Postpartum Support International, they are an incredible free resource for moms around the world. But here in the US, they're strong in every state, we refer out to them often we do. So their postpartum dat net. But they also have a warm line that I love. They call it a warm line. It's like a warm hug, not a hotline. But there that I have it handy is 1-800-944-4773. And that's an English and Spanish. But a really exciting thing that just happened in the last couple of months is there is a new nap national maternal mental health hotline, it's the first time that we've had that in the United States, that is open 24 hours a day in Spanish and English. And that one is 1-833-9HELP-4MOMS for the number four, moms. Nine help 4 moms. So those are two resources. We also on our website, have a free screening. So you can screen yourself regularly with all of our coaching work, we screen at every session and refer out so we are doing the only workplace perinatal mental health screenings. It's a really important part of it. And I just want to add that because a lot of people just think of postpartum depression, what we're really talking about are mood and anxiety disorders that can happen over those full three phases. When you're pregnant or expecting during and returning. In fact, the hardest time for folks is often seven months after they've given birth, so it can really go later. And then it's one in five new moms and one in 10 new dads. So don't think this is just a biological thing that only happens to birthing parents, it is not. So that's a really important one to consider those dads too. And that full time frame.

Natalie Gross 38:32
Thank you so much, Amy, for that information. Does anyone have anything else that you want to add? Before we wrap up?

Jen Judson Vastola 38:39
Amy, what you're saying about being your own advocate, I definitely wish I had done more of that, you know, returning to work. In either scenario, the pandemic or or the before times, you know, some of the things that kind of came to mind is I had to experience not just my offices, mother's nursing room, and what that looked like but navigate other pumping rooms at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. And Capitol Hill, for instance, you need to like fill out a form and their medical office. And then they give you past codes and a map of where all these rooms supposedly are and just navigating that was like a horrible labyrinth and really overwhelming and I ended up pumping in bathrooms. As a result of that. I wish I'd advocated a little bit more on the Hill to make that easier. And I'm sure a lot of other moms would have appreciated that as well. And in the Pentagon, we still don't have cell phone service or Wi Fi in places like those pumping rooms. And so you're just kind of sitting in the dark unable to work or, I mean, I guess you can scan your phone for photos of your babies. But that's really all you can do, though that makes it very hard to plan around pumping sessions. So all these little things are coming to mind as you talk about that and I'm sure will come to mind as moms come back to work, so thank you for sharing that.

Amy Beacom 40:01
That's such a huge one i, we could talk really all day about it, every single person has some, I have not had a client yet, where the return if their pumping has been smooth, without any king, hip pickups at all, there's always something that you're having to do.

Casey Moore 40:20
I just wanted to jump on one more time with the and it's probably because I'm a lawyer with the advocating for yourself, because I feel like that is just such an important point, as everyone keeps commenting on, you know, in North Carolina, we don't have leave. And I didn't qualify for the FMLA. Because my firm was considered Miss size, but it's actually kind of small. I had been offered eight weeks of paid leave, I ended up taking more than that. But there was never any discussion of kind of what that was going to look like. And I know my experience is kind of unique here because my husband had gotten orders to go somewhere else before I returned back from leave. And when I came back, I had this kind of naive plan, oh, yeah, I can stay in this state with my baby, Monday through Friday, and my husband can be in this other state, which is insane. And in advocating for myself, I you know, I went back. And I was only back for a week. But my husband again was overseas, I was here I was the domestic attorney in my office. So I my caseload was mine. And when I told my office that, you know, I don't, I don't think I can do this, I think if I'm going to live in the same state as my husband, I should kind of do that. I was pretty much accused of making this decision and just continuing to collect maternity leave on the side, which is terrible, because I had kind of, you know, I had earned it, I had worked hard for it. But again, I know this is a unique experience that I so much wish that I had had been a little pushy or with having the conversation of we don't have a policy, we should kind of create one. So that I know the expectations. Because we had nothing in writing for you know, you have to work at our firm for this X amount of time or, you know, we're only going to give you this this amount of time because I think it was Jen that said that she would have liked to have been home for six months. Oh my gosh, I wish I had done that too. But now I'm you know, I'm gonna wrap this up here, I just, I wanted to hone in on not because like Lisa said, you know, it's kind of ignorance on our on everyone's part and not in a malicious way. Because when you're expecting your first baby, there's so much you don't know until you know. And so I just have to drive home the importance of the advocating for yourself and in a kind way, because you can do it and not an adversarial way. But just making sure that there's at least some sort of discussion, I think is just so important.

Amy Beacom 42:51
I just have to add this as Amy, with our coaches, we're training our first cohort of coaches that are external to our my company that are around this country. And we're going through practice, they're having their practice clients right now. So we have 36 coaches who are having practice clients right now. And every single email that I have gotten from them about issues that they've come up against, is about advocating. And so these coaches are actively working to help each of those parents figure out how to advocate how to have those conversations, like if you can't hire a coach, practice it with your friend, practice those conversations. How do you want to say what you want to say? Is there someone that you can learn from put it on a moms group and get some advice, right, like there's it we often just don't know that we can advocate for ourselves, or we don't have someone telling us that it's possible. And so I've just seen people come away with those six months that you talk about when they have their coach to be like, No, you've got this, let's set up a plan. Let's propose it to the company. Let's show them why this is beneficial to them to have you come back fully at that time instead of in some broken format in the meantime, and and do it well. So yes, I just want to drive home what you are saying.

Lisa Myers 44:15
Amy, I'm interested to know, if you have a chapter in your book, which I've seen, by the way, I did not see it was on sale, but I seen the book. But I'm wondering if you have a chapter on maternity leave, because I'm thinking as we're having this conversation, especially, you know, thinking of Jen and Casey and kind of this, this similar cohort of moms, I think, and listening to Amy's comments, I think maybe the best people, for some moms to have the conversation with if we're so lucky as to have even mildly supportive partners is hey, how are you gonna approach maternity leave because some companies have maternity leave now but like for instance, in my firm, there's like a huge stigma around Taking paternity leave like guys are like blah, if you're a real man, you're just like, you're just sticking around for the first couple of diaper changes, and then you're just muscling through and it's like, yeah, yeah, great. Um, but I, you know, I'm thinking that that would be a really great place to start is, Hey, how are you going to approach your leave? I'm thinking about how I'm going to approach my leave. And we both have, you know, careers or work that's important for the family, like, how are we going to go about this? And how do we advocate for ourselves and communicate the important to this, but yet, you know, our company is still a priority. And our work is still hugely important. I think that that's an interesting place to start. Because for me, as I thought about it, until the guys start really taking leave, I think it won't really change for the women, which is a shame. I think that that's just one of the fundamental aspects of society, whether it's global, or this particular continent, I don't know. But to me, it feels like maybe it's, you know, for a partnership, whether it's, you know, a same sex couple, or, you know, like simple regular run of the mill hetero couple, like my husband and I, you know, like talking about prioritizing it both. I love Ruth Bader-Ginsburg talking about how the school would call her I mean, her documentary is so incredible. And the school would always call her. And she would, she would answer the phone, and she would say, No, you have my husband's number. And it's his turn, like, I mean, they weren't separated. They were both parenting. But she's like, You don't call me every time because I'm the mom, like you have both of our phone numbers, they should be listed equally. I don't get called every single darn time, like call him he can also answer this question about my son's bloody nose after he fell down at the playground. So Amy, I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether or not you have a chapter on that whole book, Marcus about it.

Amy Beacom 47:00
The short answer is the whole book talks about it, you're absolutely spot on. I remember I said that I started this as maternity leave. My company has the parental leave. You know, the book is the parental leave playbook this until we have the dads on board in equal amounts with equal caregiving, we will continue to subtly or not so subtly penalize the birthing parent. So yes, it's all. So in the book. We do have lots on that. And it's written for all new parents, no matter how they form their family, or what type of relationship they're in or not in. And it's also a good thing to give to your manager because it gives them a window into that employee experience in a way that they may never have ever considered before. All of the different things you have to go through and it's full of exercises and scripts and template, you know, all sorts of things. So it's a good place to start. Thank you for bringing that up. Lisa, it is spot on.

Natalie Gross 48:03
Thank you so much to our expert Amy and to our moms Lisa, Jen and Casey who joined us for this episode today. Be sure to check out Amy's website at Also check out where we have all of our podcasts episodes, plus videos and more.

Natalie Gross 48:28
That wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Newbies. Don't forget to check out our sister shows Preggie Pals for expecting parents, Parents Savers for moms and dads with toddlers. The Boob Group for moms who give breast milk to their babies, and Twin Talks for parents of multiples. Thanks for listening to Newbies your go-to source for new moms and new babies!

Disclaimer 48:54
This is a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Will such information and materials are believed to be accurate. It is not intended to replace or substitute for professional medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating healthcare problem or disease or prescribing any medication. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health, or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.

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