The US remains the only high income country where paid postpartum leave is not federally mandated.
This lack of nationwide investment in postpartum health and wellness reflects a values-system where prevention is not prioritized — where the health of birthing people and babies is brushed aside rather than viewed as a fundamental component of a thriving society.
We’re proud and excited that Nurturely’s home state of Oregon is launching three months of paid leave in 2023, joining the other states who have already stepped up to fill this gap: Washington, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. But this is still not enough.
At Nurturely, we made an active decision to prioritize postpartum health by fully funding six months of paid postpartum leave for all employees, even part-time. Importantly, this policy applies to all outcomes of pregnancy, inclusive of families who experience stillbirth and other forms of loss. After the six months, employees are welcomed back with unlimited paid bodyfeeding breaks and a babies-at-work policy.
This is just a starting point on our small, startup budget — and it’s possible simply because we are committed to making it happen. We believe that health equity starts at birth, and that supporting an equitable society starts internally, in our own teams and organizations.
Visit our new Perinatal Lounge at 56 East 15th Avenue in Eugene.
Emily Little (she/her), PhD, is a perinatal health researcher, educator, and advocate. She is the founder and executive director of Nurturely, a nonprofit promoting equity in perinatal wellness and strengthening cultures of support for infants and caregivers.
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