Panic surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19) may have begun only after it infected the rich and the famous, but the true toll won’t be felt there. It will be felt among the people in our society who don’t have community, especially working moms and pregnant women. There are two ways the Coronavirus is already having an impact.
First, it is having an impact on physical and psychological health. Though the virus is reportedly no more dangerous to pregnant women than to everyone else, sickness is always scarier during pregnancy. What’s more, for some moms who have high-risk kiddos with health issues or weaker immune systems, COVID-19 could be dangerous. And psychologically, single motherhood or unplanned pregnancy will not get any easier with social distancing.
Second, and just as dramatically, it is having a damaging economic impact. As elementary schools and daycares close, a significant need for childcare has already developed for many working moms across the country, who depend on that childcare for their own job security. When their children get sick, working moms in the U.S. are 10 times more likely than men to require time off work when their children are sick. As companies lay off employees and contractors in the wake of Coronavirus, pregnant women and working moms will be looking for work to provide basic necessities for their families during a time of scarce resources and opportunity.
It’s an extraordinarily challenging time to be a working mom or a pregnant woman in America. And in a nation where too many walk those journeys without real community already, we have a lot of work to do. During this time, it’s vitally important that we think as a community and use our words, our resources, and our health to empower the people most affected.
Here are five ways you can empower pregnant and working moms in your community during the pandemic.
#1. Offer to babysit while she’s at work or help pay for childcare
With K-12 schools and daycares closing, working moms are scrambling to find childcare, so that they don’t miss out on vital income to support their families.
Offering to watch her kids for free or at a reduced rate is one of the most empowering ways you can stand by her during the pandemic. Donating to help ease her hire a babysitter or continue childcare for her children, so that she can provide for her family is also a great option.
Offering to watch her kids for free or at a reduced rate is one of the most empowering ways you can stand by her during the pandemic
#2. Run errands on her behalf or donate essentials.
According to the CDC, Coronavirus appears no more dangerous to small children and pregnant women than it is to everyone else. However, for many pregnant women and moms with small kiddos, the thought of going into public spaces to get basic essentials is understandably nerve-racking. For some moms whose children have various health issues or immunodeficiency disorders, those trips can be particularly dangerous.
Saving her a trip to the grocery store can be incredibly life-giving.
#3. For Employers: Hire & provide paid sick leave to hourly workers.
With the event and transportation industries already taking a hit, layoffs are likely to have an impact on working moms around the country. Finding another job will be difficult. COVID-19 could especially affect the job security and incomes of moms and pregnant women who are contractors and hourly workers.
If you’re an employer seeking to add hourly workers or contract help, your business can benefit from the hard work and talent of moms in your community, while playing a significant role in alleviating the layoffs that occur during a global pandemic. If you are hiring and open to helping out in this way, contact us or DM us.
“Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.”
For employers, we also recommend joining along with the companies like Trader Joe’s, DoorDash, and Amazon, who have added paid sick leave to their benefits package for hourly workers. According to the Department of Labor, approximately 40% of hourly workers don’t have access to paid sick leave—so these policies go a long way in helping pregnant mothers and working moms who depend on hourly wages.
In addition, if you haven’t already, we recommend you follow the CDC’s advice to “ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.”
Beyond sick leave, offering backup childcare to working moms at your company is another difference-maker. According to Child Care Aware of America, single parent families spend an average of 36% of their household income on infant child care, which has become exponentially more expensive in the last decade. But companies can do a lot to alleviate this reality, like Starbucks, which has begun “offering employees at U.S. company-owned stores 10 subsidized backup care days a year through Care.com,” according to Mother.ly.
#4. Pass along helpful information in a calm and hopeful tone of voice.
When there’s plenty to panic about, our communities are more susceptible to misinformation than ever before.
In your social media posts about the Coronavirus, one major way you can empower moms is by empathizing with their experiences and inviting your friends to join you in helping out.
Spread information from sources that are unbiased and knowledgeable.
In addition, both in person and on social media, spread information from sources that are unbiased and knowledgeable about the situation. Here’s a good place to get basic information and updates on COVID-19 during this time.
#5. Lift spirits with FaceTime, social media, text messages, and smiles.
As social distancing becomes a core strategy to beating the pandemic, isolated people will become more isolated. This means that helping hands will become more rare (unless we don’t let that happen!) and the experience of an unplanned pregnancy could become even more lonely and pressurized than it already is.
During this time, we must be remarkably intentional about building community with each other. Check on the people in your life, remind them they’re not alone, and bug them about any ways you can help.
Remind the people in your life that they’re not alone.
Many moms work at coffee shops, grocery stores, retail stores, and restaurants where there is significant public exposure. Be kind. Your patience and your smile will go a long way.
Times like these show us what we’re made of.
Times like these show us what we’re made of. May we measure our society not by the way we treat the rich and the famous, but by the way we treat the isolated, the disadvantaged, and the voiceless. More than ever before, may our actions be driven by love, not fear.
What the story of Elizabeth Watts mean for protecting pregnant healthcare workers during the pandemic.
Tammy Abernethy shares the secret to providing empowering support to women facing unplanned pregnancies.
Mom and college graduate Katie Forbes teaches us how to empower pregnant and parenting students to achieve their academic dreams.