Each month, 30 million women read or watch Motherly content—and we hear their voices loud and clear. Speaking on behalf of this generation, we at Motherly want to amplify their voices, taking issues that have been treated as niche into the forefront, sparking a dialogue and demanding change.
Our annual State of Motherhood survey, the largest, most statistically-accurate and comprehensive study of US Millennial mothers, revealed this year that a full 85% of our survey respondents feel society doesn't understand or support mothers and they are looking to Motherly to lead the conversation to make changes.
Today's mothers are stressed out and burned out and deserve better. Today's mothers are better educated than any generation before, working more than ever before, and our governmental policies, corporate governance, and culture have not adjusted to provide the support needed to ensure mamas and families thrive. We stand with and for America's mothers, not a political party, and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families, and the country.
Motherly calls on lawmakers and employers to hear our voice, the voice of today's mother, as we advocate for six critical changes:
1. Motherly demands paid family leave in America
Paid family leave is good for babies, families and businesses and the United States is the only member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that has not implemented paid leave on a national basis. Support for paid leave is growing in both parties because this is truly a non-partisan issue. Motherly wants all parents to have access to paid family leave.
2. Motherly demands America's maternal health crisis be addressed
The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world. Giving birth in America is shockingly dangerous, black mothers are three to four times more likely to die during or after pregnancy or birth and Native American and Native Alaskan mothers are also dying from complications in childbirth at a disproportionate rate. Systemic racism, socioeconomic disparities, heteronormative expectations and unequal access to healthcare are hurting mothers and babies. This is unacceptable and Motherly supports the modernization of obstetric medicine standards and policies which address implicit bias among providers in clinical settings.
3. Motherly demands better maternal mental health support
We know that mood disorders are among the most common complications of pregnancy and we know that the majority of mothers who need help aren't getting it. Research suggests suicide is a leading cause of death in other developed countries, and that maternal suicide is the United States is more common than previously thought. In America, suicides are not coded as maternal deaths on death certificates, but new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide in this country. And yet maternal mental health is being neglected and this crisis is going unrecognized.
Motherly is asking healthcare providers to increase maternal mental health screening and for community leaders and lawmakers to increase support for maternal mental health. We want mothers to know that when they speak up to ask for help they will be heard.
4. Motherly demands a mother's right to feed her baby where and how she wants to be recognized
Breastfeeding in public is legal in America, and yet nearly every week there is a new news story about a mother being harassed for simply feeding her baby. Motherly supports the rights of mothers to breastfeed and pump where and how they want to, including in the workplace. No mother should have to choose between breastfeeding and keeping her job.
Motherly recognizes the World Health Organization's recommendation that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life, but like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Motherly recognizes that a baby's mother "is uniquely qualified to decide whether exclusive breastfeeding, mixed feeding or formula feeding is optimal for her and her infant."
Mothers should be free to choose formula if that is what they want, but also supported in nursing. Right now, mothers do not feel supported when doing either.
It is not a lack of education that is contributing to lower than ideal breastfeeding rates (mothers feel intense pressure to exclusively breastfeed), but a lack of societal support. Research suggests that breastfeeding rates are higher in states that have paid parental leave.
5. Motherly demands affordable childcare solutions
The cost of childcare is increasing faster than household incomes and parents cannot keep up. Parents are struggling to find care that meets their standards and are burdened not only by the financial costs but the time it takes to investigate childcare providers.
American parents need affordable and safe day care and America's children deserve the kind of care that is good for their social and emotional development.
Motherly believes all children in America deserve access to quality, affordable preschool, and we know it is possible as universal childcare has been successful in Washington, DC where 90% of 4-year-olds attend a full-day preschool program for free and where the city's maternal workforce participation rate rose by more than 10%.
6. Motherly demands changes to the cultural expectations that contribute to maternal stress
Research suggests America's mothers are the most stressed moms in the western world. We are parenting under intense and incompatible cultural pressures and doing way more than our fair share of unpaid work while increasingly serving as household breadwinners.
Meanwhile, work culture tells us we need to pretend we aren't parents while the wider culture suggests mothers need to prioritize parenting over work by continuing to frame mothers as the default parent.
We recognize that no single company or policy will shift the status quo, but by supporting mothers at work and supporting fathers to be the caregivers they want to be we aim to redistribute the uneven ratio of unpaid work, lessen the mental load of motherhood and help equalize pay.
We are living in an important (and exciting!) moment in history as society comes to terms with the importance and value of caregiving. It's time we take motherhood seriously — it's time we take ourselves as mothers seriously and demand change.
We need our elected officials and governmental institutions to invest in the future of society by legislating new policies, enforcing existing policies, and invest in pregnancy and early motherhood.
We need our corporations to establish and de-stigmatize parental leave and flexible work options, as well as modify corporate culture values and behaviors to ensure families can thrive. This includes aligning values to incentives and compensation structures.
We need to shift our cultural norms to value caregiving and motherhood, starting with our own self-talk and involving our partners at home, setting an example for the next generation—what we do today has a ripple effect for the rest of society and history.
- We deserve better: American mothers have been neglected for way too long
- Are remote teams the solution to a working mom's top problem?
- Democrats and Republicans are both pushing for paid leave in America
- 'Self-care' is not enough to fix how much moms are burnt out
- 85% of fathers would do anything to be home with their baby, says new survey
- Would it ever be possible to have universal childcare in the United States?
- Being a Working Parent is Complicated — Supporting Working Families Shouldn't Be