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Valerie Young's picture

I have big plans for Mother's Day this year. In fact, I'm giving myself more than a day - considering the number of minor miracles I pull off on a regular basis, I'm sure I merit several days. You, too, I'm thinking...

First, I'm going to make sure I am down at the US Capitol Tuesday afternoon to make a motherlovin' fuss about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Personally, I think the last person who should have to worry about getting fired is a pregnant woman. Soon she'll not only be supporting herself, but a child too. She needs that job and wants to keep showing up to work as long as she can. We'll all be signing an 8 foot high Mother's Day card to deliver to Congress, to make the point that every pregnant woman is entitled to the same reasonable accommodations every other worker is guaranteed under federal law, like a stool to sit on, access to a water bottle, or more frequent bathroom breaks. So, pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act already!

Expectant mothers are not guaranteed any paid time off after the baby comes, so that pregnant woman will likely have to make the money she earns before the birth last for awhile. Like millions of US moms, she probably won't have any paid family leave, because the US, alone among all other civilized nations (and some "uncivilized" ones, too) does not offer new moms or dads any time with some income to deal with the household upheaval a new child brings. So she might be saving up to spend a few days (or weeks, if possible) bonding with her new baby, establishing a solid breastfeeding relationship, and coping with the transition. The Family Medical Leave Act, which only applies to certain workers and certain employers, gives eligible employees only unpaid time off - not surprisingly, most people who could, but don't, take it say that they can't afford to. So, while I'm trying to persuade the men and women you elected in the House and Senate to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, you can be sure that I'll be throwing in more than a few good words for the FAMILY Act, too, in hopes of lining up paid family leave insurance as the next pro-family policy I want our Congress to pass.

All week long, I'll be tweeting at 3 p.m. with the National Partnership for Women & Families about #WhatMothersNeed for #MothersDay. No doubt you have your own ideas about how Mother's Day should be observed - a good night's sleep, more hours in the day, maybe those precious sticky hand-made cards and crafts from your kids. I want those things too. But I also want more American mothers to survive death from child-birth or a pregnancy-related condition. It's hard to believe that the rate of maternal mortality has actually been going up for the past 10 years in the US. A woman giving birth in the US is more likely to die than a woman giving birth in China. In fact, our maternal mortality rate is TWICE AS HIGH as the rate in Saudi Arabia, across the globe, as well as Canada, our neighbor to the north. Incredibly, our maternal mortality rate is THREE TIMES the rate of the United Kingdom. So, while going out for dinner may be nice, expressing a little well-placed outrage on behalf of the women who never have a Mother's Day in the US at all is on my list as well.

You can join me - it's absurdly easy to find your Senators and Representatives, call 'em up and say "I'm a constituent, and I want you to sponsor and pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, because no woman should ever have to choose between her health, her baby's health, and economic security." If you don't feel like calling, send them a message using this handy form from the National Women's Law Center.

Join in with the Twitter storm every day this week at 3 p.m., and look for me, @WomaninDC. Today's theme is maternal health and child care, two areas moms definitely need more support in.

Mother's Day isn't just about receiving love - we can also spread some around. We take care of everybody else; now we have to do just as good a job taking care of ourselves and each other, too.

'Til next time,

Your (Wo)Man in Washington

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