CBS
Natalia Lusinski
April 17, 2016 1:12 pm

A lot of us know about crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo, GoFundMe, GiveForward, and a plethora of others—where people try to raise money for everything from funding their independent film to honeymoons to medical bills. But a new trend is becoming more and more apparent — mothers seeking funding for maternity leave.

Yep, for mothers who don’t get a paid maternity leave, crowdfunding seems to be a viable solution, albeit an absolutely heartbreaking one.

“This is both heartbreaking and stressful knowing I can’t come up with the money to stay home any other way then asking for help,” Megan states on her GoFundMe page titled, “Raising Money for Maternity Leave.” She hopes to raise $6000 to cover three months, but states that two months “would be a huge blessing,” too.

San Francisco is now the first city in the U.S. to require that employers give new parents six weeks of fully paid leave. But what about people not in San Fran?

Currently, “only 12 percent of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer,” according to the United States Department of Labor. 12%?? That means a lot of parents don’t get paid leave, and many have to find some way to continue working despite having an infant.

Taking care of yourself financially, especially when you’re recovering from a major medical procedure like birth,  is hard enough without a baby in the picture; it may seem impossible to heal, care for a baby, and make money at the same time. “Too many workers still cannot afford to take unpaid leave because of the loss of income it entails, or have to cut their leave short because of financial or workplace pressures.”

Enter crowdfunding. GoFundMe is just one site expectant mothers are using and 6,000 fundraising campaigns used the words “maternity leave” or “childcare,” and they’ve raised more than $9 million, according to the Today show.

GiveForward is another site where you can see mothers who don’t get paid maternity leave and are seeking money to pay for baby supplies and bills. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that a two-parent household making over $61,000 per year will spend approximately $16,000 on child-related expenses the first year they have the baby. Um… that’s a lot of diapers, baby bottles, and overall baby expenses.

For instance, on GiveForward, Morgan is seeking $800 to get her through two months. “As you know, Illinois doesn’t have a forced paid maternity leave rule, so therefore I’m forced to be on maternity leave with no money, no paycheck… I feel like this should be against the law,” she states. “We need to make this a law that ALL mothers who give birth should be able to spend time with their baby and not be rushed back into the workforce!”

Agreed. But doesn’t the US have a law specifically mandating leave for new parents? Well, sort of…“Two decades ago, the Family and Medical Leave Act broke new ground by establishing some rights to parental leave, but it is limited to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and available only to employees in medium and large firms,” Jane Waldfogel, a professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work and an author of Too Many Children Left Behindwrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

Until the state-to-state maternity leave laws change and more and more people can get it, next time you want to support a good cause, think about donating money to someone with unpaid maternity leave.

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