Friday, March 19, 2010

The American Family - Corporate Dictatorship's Sacrificial Lamb

So, here you are pregnant (to your employers chagrin) working and slaving, right up until you deliver your baby. This way, you can use all your paid maternity leave and vacation time for after the baby is born. The important thing is to spend as much time home with your new baby as possible. Sounds familiar? After all, that’s when the baby really needs you and the real work begins, right?

Well, if you knew the following, would your decision still be the same? According to a study published a year ago, in Women’s Health Issues, moms who worked during their last month of pregnancy, instead of taking off the month before, have a four time greater risk of ending up with a c-section.

This was true in my case. I worked as a nurse in the Emergency Dept and planned to take off two weeks prior to delivering my first child. Low and behold, the day after I left work, I went into labor and ended up having a c-section Thankfully, I was able to deliver my next two children, vaginally (VBAC) most likely because, I did not work full-time and as a result, I was able to rest and prepare adequately for delivery.
(yes, even with children at home!)

Working women, trained to be agenda-oriented, are easy targets for the “c-section pitch”: it’s predictable, scheduled at your convenience, there is no labor pain to experience and you get two extra weeks off!
Sadly, that’s another reason New Jersey’s c-section rate is 39%, the highest in the country.

How about this familiar scenario? “I’ll go back to work as soon as my paid leave is over (six weeks in NJ) because my company is so supportive, they have on-site child care and a program to help me transition back to work including a lactation specialist… should be just fine.”

Again, if you were informed of the following, would your decision still be the same? A recent study found that the length of postpartum leave dictated how successful breastfeeding would be. Women who took less than 6 weeks of maternity leave had a four times greater risk of breastfeeding failure, women who return to work between 6-12 weeks had a two times greater risk of failure. Some of you know why because you’ve been there, done that. You’re committed but feel sabotaged by your very busy work schedule and your caregivers, who are ripping through your milk, over-feeding your child, thus demanding more milk than you can pump and then, well the rest is history.

It is common knowledge that both delivery by c-section and infant formula feeding are more costly for the corporations. Higher surgical costs, extended hospital stays, increase risk of complications as well as longer recovery time.(those extra two weeks) Infants who are formula fed have a much higher rate of infections, allergies, asthma, eczema, etc. thus absenteeism from work is higher for those mothers. So, it makes better economic sense for employers to promote the full use of maternity leave including extending pay. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Instead, the corporate focus is on luring the mother back, as early as possible, even before her allotted time, by offering an array of services disguised as “pro-family” when in fact they are just the opposite.

For instance, one manager states, “Our program allows parents to come back to work earlier while continuing to bond with their children. It also helps to address separation anxiety that many new parents can have.” Just a few thoughts: How can you bond with a child you’re not with all day? Aren’t parents supposed to have separation anxiety? No one ever seems to mention the baby’s feelings or sense of well being. Who assumes that responsibility?

Any working mom will tell you that the minute your life starts “getting better”, it’s time to go back to work! By three months; you’re physically feeling better, emotionally you’ve adjusted more, breastfeeding is finally going great, your day is more manageable and you’ve made new friends, who have babies. Not to mention, the best thing; the baby starts to provide feedback like smiles, giggles and sheer excitement, they become so much fun! No wonder new moms are so ambivalent about returning to work. Who wouldn’t feel cheated, not to mention, anxious, sad and depressed.

This is an example of how the corporate “conditioning” works. A mom was quoted in saying that her corporate program made a huge difference in getting her comfortable with going back to work after her baby was born. "My first week back I was checking on him three or four times a day," she says. "But by the fourth week, maybe I showed up at lunch." This is exactly what employers want you to do! Their plan is to normalize family separation in order to increase company retention and productivity.

This corporate trickery of robbing precious time from families and making it appear “supportive” is unnerving. Just for the sake of improving their return-to-work metrics! To repeat myself, the real intent here is to recapture you, (their productive employee), back behind that desk before you even know what happened. If that’s not bad enough, you are made to feel obligated to do so and grateful to them for the opportunity.

People, we live in a culture that places little value on mothering, let alone breastfeeding. We need to recognize the American corporate agenda for what it really is – a wolf disguised in grandma’s clothes and stop buying into it! What does it take for us to realize that there is NO PROGRAM OR DAYCARE, I don’t care how expensive it is; that can replace what a mother does for her baby, both physically and emotionally! We need to insist that corporations stop spending their money to implement programs that promote early separation as “acceptable”, custodial care of infants as “acceptable” and destruction of the family unit, as “acceptable.” Instead, they should be forced to spend where it makes the most sense, in the form of job-protected extended paid leave.

This would enable women to take ample time off before delivery, in order to have the restorative energy necessary for giving birth, reducing the risk of c-section. In addition, extended paid leave is proven to result in happier, healthier mothers and babies. So, paying women to stay home is an investment that would actually save the corporations money, not to mention, save the integrity of our families.

I believe, we can no longer afford to sacrifice our families for the sake of corporate profit.  This is too high a price to pay and one that, I fear, has and will continue to have, devastating consequences for the future of our country.