7 strategies to survive unpaid maternity leave

Don’t have paid maternity leave? Neither do most American women today. Here’s how to get through it.

7 strategies to survive unpaid maternity leave

The vast majority of employees in the United States (88%, to be exact) are not guaranteed paid maternity leave or paid paternity leave. While a federal law called the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, not everyone is eligible—it depends on the size of the company and how long the employee has worked there—and even if they are, the time off is unpaid.

If you’re pregnant or plan to be in the near future, it’s a good idea to figure out whether you’ll be one of the millions of American women who won’t get paid when you take maternity leave; this way, you can plan your finances if necessary. Investigate your company’s maternity leave policy as well as the state laws on leave where you work.


1. Look into short-term disability insurance.

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Whether you’re employed full-time or you’re freelance/self-employed, look into short-term disability insurance policies. Pregnancy and the postpartum period are the most commonly covered “disabilities” that prevent an employee from working. If you do purchase a short-term disability policy, take some time to read the fine print so you are satisfied with the coverage you will receive. At some companies, short-term disability is a benefit offered to some (or all) employees, while at at others you must choose this optional benefit before you get pregnant.

If you go forward with this, there will be monthly deductions from your paycheck, but you can rest assured that your pay will be partially covered when you’re pregnant. For those employers that offer short-term disability insurance, there may be a portion of the expense that the employee pays for. Typically, short-term disability policies cover six weeks of pay at some percentage (up to 100% depending on your policy) for a normal birth and eight weeks of pay for a cesarean birth.

2. Start saving money.

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Setting aside even small amount per week will make a big difference when you aren’t working. If you’re not pregnant yet, this is a good time to start thinking about the future. Consider your monthly payments and make a financial plan. You may want to open a separate savings account for it so you can track your stash.

3. Negotiate for some small amount of paid maternity leave.

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There’s no harm in asking.

4. Consider using paid time off/vacation days.

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Try to save your vacation days and any paid time off you’ve accrued (even vacation days from prior years, if that’s an option for you) for after you have your baby. It may not sound fun right now, but it will guarantee a bit of extra money once you’re taking some much-needed time off.

5. Reach out.

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Don’t be afraid to reach out to close family members and friends for help. Whether they can help you financially or logistically by babysitting if you must get into the office, they can be a great resource. They can also be a great source for supplies; rather than buying all your baby’s clothes, bedding and toys, see if anyone you know has lightly used or perfectly good items to pass on.

6. Crowdfund it.

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If you’re not confident that you have family members or friends who can pitch in financially, consider starting a crowdfunding campaign for your maternity leave on Indiegogo or GoFundMe. This way, you’ll reach friends of friends who might be able to help you out—and broadcasting your story in an honest way can inspire generosity in strangers.

7. Take on temporary part-time work or ask for additional hours at work.

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If your type of work and schedule allow for it (and if you have a relatively easy pregnancy), take on some temporary part-time work or ask for additional hours that you can put in remotely.

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These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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