Sen. Elizabeth Warren answers our questions on paid leave, childcare + maternal burnout

We asked the candidates for answers and Warren's campaign was among those to respond.

elizabeth warren paid family leave

After Motherly's second annual State of Motherhood survey revealed that 85% of moms feel society doesn't understand or support mothers, we knew we needed to reach out to all presidential candidates with a series of questions on behalf of America's mothers.

Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

That's is why we are demanding change in 2020, standing with organizations and advocacy groups fighting to get American mothers the support they need and deserve and declaring this the #yearofthemother.


Sen. Elizabeth Warren's campaign responded to our questions. Read on to see how she plans to address our demands.

How Elizabeth Warren plans to bring paid family leave to America:

I have committed to adopting and building on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's work by fighting to make paid family and medical leave available to all workers. As President, I will fight for up to 12 weeks of paid family or medical leave in a one year period to care for a newborn or newly adopted child; to act as caregiver to a spouse, child, parent, domestic partner, or chosen family member with a serious health condition; to deal with the worker's own serious medical condition; or address specific military caregiving needs.

Workers would receive 66% of their salary, capped at $4,000 per month, with a minimum payment of $580 per month. Unlike our current unpaid federal leave system, which is limited to businesses with over 50 employees, paid family and medical leave would be available to anyone who meets the work history requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance. This would be a game-changer for American families - and a big step toward building an economy that works for all of us.

How Warren plans to ensure the maternal health crisis is addressed:

We are facing a maternal mortality crisis in America—and for Black moms, it's an epidemic. The data show that Black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes no matter where they live. This trend persists even after adjusting for income and education. One major reason? Racism. In a detailed report, ProPublica found that the vast majority of maternal deaths are preventable, but decades of racism and discrimination mean that, too often, doctors and nurses don't hear Black women's health issues the same way they hear them from other women.

These are structural problems that require structural solutions, and as they have so often in the past, Black women and activists are leading the way. Widowers, mothers, and groups like the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, MomsRising, and the March of Dimes are demanding concrete actions to reverse these deadly outcomes. In Congress, Senator Kamala Harris has a smart proposal to address the structural racism that puts Black women and their babies at risk and improve care coordination. Senator Cory Booker has an important bill to expand Medicaid for moms. Congresswoman Lauren Underwood and Congresswoman Alma Adams recently created the Black Maternal Health Caucus.

I support all of these efforts, and I have another idea: hold health systems accountable for protecting black moms. My plan will reward health systems that keep mothers healthier, press for broader adoption of best practices that we already know help Black and Brown moms, narrow racial inequities – and yes, hold both hospitals and care teams accountable for preventable failures. The health systems that don't improve will be identified and invested in so we can improve their outcomes and end this epidemic. And we must also pass Medicare for All because there's no substitute for the kind of guaranteed, comprehensive access to general and reproductive health care for women before, during, and after pregnancy.

We can save women's lives and demand change. Black women shouldn't have to develop elaborate birth plans or personally shell out thousands of dollars for extra eyes and ears at the hospital to ensure they survive the experience of childbirth. We've done enough observing and debating the effects of bias and racism in our health care system. It's time to demand better outcomes.

How will you ensure better maternal mental health support?

Health care is a human right—and that means mental health just as much as physical health. The law currently requires health insurers to provide mental health benefits in parity with physical health benefits. But in 2018, less than half of people with mental illness received treatment and less than a fifth of people who needed substance use treatment actually received it. That's why I support Medicare for All, which includes long-term care, audio, vision, dental, and mental health benefits. Under Medicare for All, every person will have comprehensive mental health coverage and no mother will go without the mental health care she needs.

What Senator Warren wants to do to support mothers in feeding their babies:

As President, I will ease the financial burdens working families face and fight for big structural change to rebuild our economy so that it works for everyone. I have fought to protect SNAP and other critical safety net programs from the Trump administration's cuts—and I'll support increasing funding for SNAP as president. I will also push to cancel all existing student meal debt, increase federal funding to school meals programs so that students everywhere get free breakfast and lunch, and direct my Department of Education to work with schools to look for ways to provide dinner and meals over weekends and throughout long holidays to students who need it. And I've proposed expanding the farm-to-school program one-hundred fold so that schools get access to fresh, local, nutritious ingredients to prepare these meals.

We also need to make it easier for parents to put food on the table. My plan for universal child care would ensure high-quality child care and early education for every child from birth to school age and make child care free for millions of families and affordable for everyone. . I support up to twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave per year to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, and my Fair Workweek plan requires employers with 15 or more employees to give two weeks of advance notice of work schedules and empowers employees to ask for schedules that work for them without fear of retaliation – helping working parents balance their work and family responsibilities.

Elizabeth Warren's thoughts on creating affordable childcare solutions:

One of the first plans I released during this campaign was about providing universal child care and high quality early learning for every child in America from birth to school age. Child care was the boulder that almost crushed me when I was a working mom with two little ones. My Aunt Bee rescued us, but not everyone is lucky enough to have an Aunt Bee. Under my plan, high-quality child care and early education will be free for millions of families, and affordable for everyone.

Here's how my plan works: The federal government will partner with local providers — states, cities, school districts, nonprofits, tribes, faith-based organizations — to create a network of child care options that would be available to every family.

Local communities would be in charge, but providers would be held to high national standards to make sure that no matter where you live, your child will have access to quality care and early learning. Child care and preschool workers will be doing the educational work that teachers do, so they will be paid like comparable public school teachers. The entire cost of my plan is covered by my wealth tax -- a small tax on giant fortunes over $50 million. In the wealthiest country on the planet, affordable and high-quality child care and early education should be a right for everyone, not a privilege reserved for the rich.

How Elizabeth Warren wants to work to change the cultural expectations that contribute to maternal stress in America:

As a woman in the workforce and a working mom, I have personally struggled to balance the demands of work and family.

We can reduce the stress on working moms by easing the financial burdens they face. In addition to my plans for a Fair Workweek, universal child care, paid family leave, and Medicare for All, I have plans to cancel student debt, end the affordable housing crisis, make public college free, invest in our public schools, value the work of women of color, and fight for a Green New Deal to defeat climate change and boost our economy.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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