Maternity leave during a recession

May 14, 2009 9:20:41 PM PDT
For little Nina and her mom, Michelle, in Boerum Hill, things haven't exactly gone as expected. "Because my husband has had 2 pay cuts in the last 2 months and we don't know if there are more down the line. Also, at my job, we don't know if I'll be getting a pay cut when I go back," Michelle Papachristou said.

Michelle is a flight attendant who had hoped to take 6 months of maternity leave, but now she'll take only 3.

It's a similar story for a public school teacher, Rita Ross. She'll return after only 10 weeks so she can preserve her health insurance.

"If I were out after May 15th, I sort of have to Cobra it and to Cobra it -- it's sort of a lot of money for our family. My whole family is covered under me and we have a baby now," she said.

The pressure of this recession is being felt by everyone, but by new moms in particular.

A recent on-line poll from a social networking site for moms found that 16 percent are now finding work because of financial stress.

"Women are coming back sooner, because they need to get the paycheck coming back into the family," said Chason Hecht of Retensa Consultants.

In this economy, not everyone has a job and that's affecting new moms right now as well.

Joy Fields lost her job 3 months before her son, Fritz, was born.

"It's actually really frightening, because if I have to go back, there's not much to go back to," she said.

There are some like Taryn Mickus who thought she could take three months of paid leave, but she's now learned her company can't afford it.

"About two-and-a-half, three weeks in, I got a call saying they could only pay me for half of my maternity leave," Mickus explained.

Many of these women say the best advice is plan ahead now. They did not see the recession coming, especially during such a joyous time in their lives.

"And having that sort of taken away unwillingly is definitely stressful. Very stressful," Papachristou said.

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