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The UC Berkeley School of Public Health, in collaboration with the March of Dimes, is developing educational materials to help pregnant working women make decisions about taking maternity leave. Given that 50% of the workforce is comprised of women and that a large majority will get pregnant while employed, it is important for women to feel supported and have resources that can help them decide how best to maintain work-family balance considering their own personal and family situation.

    In the United States, we lack a maternity leave culture. Two of every three mothers at first birth work during pregnancy. Most pregnant mothers work fulltime into their last month and, on average, return to work within three months after giving birth. This coincides with the amount of leave offered by the federal government under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  Under FMLA eligible new mothers are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for newborns with guaranteed health insurance coverage while maintaining the right to resume work at the conclusion of their leave. However, this law is restrictive. It only applies to mothers who work in companies with at least 50 employees and who have worked for an employer for at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months. For mothers who work in smaller companies, maternity leave benefits are often unclear and vary from state to state and across firms. Furthermore, human resource departments do not necessarily offer clear directives. In California, there are laws and governmental programs in place that support maternity leave and may even pay wages during maternity leave, but not all women know about these resources.

    The maternity leave educational materials we are designing will help women consider the resource options available to them in California, as well as weigh the pros and cons of taking maternity leave before and after childbirth from a health standpoint. The scientific evidence so far suggests that there may be some health benefits of taking maternity leave. Some studies have found an association between leave before delivery and a reduced risk of problems with the childbirth. Other studies have found that postpartum leave is associated with improved health for mothers and their babies. We aim to find out what factors influence working women as they decide if taking maternity leave is right for them.

 

    We are currently recruiting pregnant women for this study. Please feel free to distribute the information below. If you would like to have some flyers, please email Elaine Kurtovich at matleavestudy@berkeley.edu.

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The UC Berkeley School of Public Health is looking to enroll pregnant, working women in a research study to learn more about how women make decisions about taking maternity leave.

 To participate you must be:

• 6-7 months (24-31 weeks) pregnant

• working during pregnancy

• over 18

• English- or Spanish-speaking

• living in California

Interested?

• To sign up for the study online go to http://tinyurl.com/UCBmatleavestudy

• To sign up for the study by phone call (888) 490-8223.

If you are eligible, you will be asked to take a 10-minute survey online or over the phone

4 weeks after your due date. If you take the survey after you deliver, you will receive a

$10 Amazon.com gift card (or $10 Babies R Us gift card if you do the survey over

the phone) and will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Fire.

**Refer a friend and get a $10 Amazon.com gift card!**

Questions? For more information, contact the study director, Elaine Kurtovich (888-490-8223/matleavestudy@berkeley.edu).

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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