In the evolving landscape of workplace dynamics, recognition and support for maternal health are crucial to an inclusive workplace. Celebrating Maternal Health Awareness Day on January 23rd is an opportunity to highlight employers’ important role in the well-being of working mothers. The strength, resilience, and contributions of mothers in the workforce spotlight the need for comprehensive support within organizations to combat rising rates of maternal death across the U.S.

From robust parental leave policies to innovative childcare assistance programs, progressive workplace benefits contribute to mothers’ physical and mental well-being and enhance workplace cultures for all employees. As women navigate the challenges presented by the intersection of career and motherhood, great companies create environments where mothers can thrive. Elevate health. Elevate everyone. 

Prioritizing maternal health is mission-critical. In this article, we will highlight pillars of support for maternal health: flexible and equitable employee benefits that significantly impact the health of mothers wherever they are.

 Here’s what we’ll cover:

Why is maternal health awareness important?

The U.S. is considered an outlier among wealthy nations in maternal health. In 2020, the average maternal mortality rate in high-income countries was 12 deaths per 100,000 live births, but in the U.S., that number was nearly 24. According to the CDC, 80% of pregnancy-related deaths can be prevented. Awareness of maternal health and coordinated interventions can save lives. 

Maternal health isn’t just about pregnancy. It’s about thriving mothers, healthy families, and stronger communities. Each time a woman decides to have a child or not, it impacts her health. Empowering individual choice elevates maternal health. From pre-conception to postpartum, every aspect of a woman’s physical, mental, and social health matters. 

Maternal health isn’t just about pregnancy, it’s about thriving mothers, healthy families, and stronger communities.

Many women spend more time at work than with their families – workplaces can bolster women’s and mothers’ health by prioritizing flexible schedules, supportive childcare options, and comprehensive wellness resources. By spreading awareness and championing maternal health, companies create a ripple effect of empowerment and resilience to span generations.

Champion maternal health equity for all

Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women, according to the CDC. Unequal access to quality healthcare, chronic stress, and structural racism and bias account for striking disparities in maternal health. Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) affect nutrition, stress levels, housing quality, and exposure to environmental toxins. Poor maternal health doesn’t just hurt moms. It impacts children’s health and perpetuates inequality. Maternal health awareness is empowering. Bridge the health equity chasm with benefits that champion maternal health for all of your people. 

An equitable maternal health strategy fuels a vibrant workforce. Smart companies promote employee total well-being, engagement, and satisfaction and foster an inclusive culture by designing a total rewards strategy that caters to diverse needs. Support all working mothers and cultivate a family-friendly culture that retains talent and attracts new stars.

Elevate family support beyond maternity leave  

Forget bare-minimum maternity leave – supportive employers also recognize the role of fathers and the importance of adoption in family expansion. Nurture thriving families with robust parental policies that hold space for adoption, recovery from labor and delivery, and precious newborn and new child bonding.  Ensure every employee can confidently pursue parenthood, whether through birth or adoption.

Build strong teams and elevate family support beyond maternity leave. Dads deserve their turn to shine, and when fathers take leave to support their partners and actively share in newborn care, everyone wins. Dads who bond with their babies build stronger families. Equal maternity and paternity leave access is a launchpad for healthy, happy families. Leaders who champion work-life balance, regardless of gender, set the tone for a more equitable distribution of parental responsibilities and the long-term health and success of working parents. 

Empower moms-to-be with personalized care 

Forget one-size-fits-all – empower moms with personalized care. Family expansion journeys take many paths, and wise workplaces support them all. Smart companies are redefining well-being support for expectant and new moms. From financial reimbursement for some or all adoption costs to pregnancy doulas to midwives, flexible employee benefits that support moms-to-be are a recipe for thriving mothers and happy, healthy families. 

Forget one-size-fits-all – empower moms with personalized care.

Promoting equal support for biological and adoptive parents can improve loyalty and retention for your existing employees as well as attract new talent. Prove you’re a family-friendly, inclusivity-minded company by offering financial support for all paths to parenthood, such as financial reimbursements through Lifestyle Benefits. Today’s people-first companies like Airbnb, Electronic Arts, Labcorp, The Medical College of Wisconsin, Prudential, and Sage Therapeutics are leading the way in family-first culture by promoting adoption reimbursement or assistance programs.

True support means celebrating pregnancy dreams and holding space for heartbreak. Beyond joyous births, embrace the resilience of moms facing miscarriage or stillbirth. Empathetic support offers resources after loss, allows time for grief, and builds a network of compassion and connection where no mother feels alone. 

Build a support network for nursing mothers

If a woman chooses to breastfeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics guidance recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life and continued breastfeeding until two years or beyond. Studies confirm the positive impact of breastfeeding on maternal health, decreasing rates of maternal diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases.

Corporate support of breastfeeding mothers promotes productivity, decreases maternal stress, and increases job satisfaction. Ditch the storage closets and shared bathrooms in favor of well-equipped spaces for pumping. Privacy and quiet, comfortable chairs, refrigerated storage, pre-booking, and most importantly, flexible schedules all allow mothers with infants to maintain a healthy schedule and supply. And set your company above the competition. 

Outside of the office, LSA wallets provide valuable reimbursement for innovative milk shipping services that companies like Milk Stork and Save The Milk offer, allowing working mothers who travel to send breast milk back home. Reimbursement for expert guidance from lactation consultants and support for breast milk-sharing programs shows you understand their challenges and want to empower moms to succeed. Make sure your workspaces and infrastructure communicate how much the well-being of your people matters. 

Overcome care challenges 

Recognize working mothers’ challenges in balancing careers and family life and support family care options from sleep support to childcare reimbursements. The reality is that mothers are often the default caregivers regardless of their relationship status. Helping them to navigate care challenges is essential. 

A core element of well-being is healthy sleep. On average, mothers report more nighttime waking and lost sleep than fathers and a degree of sleep deprivation persists for both parents until most children are six years or older. Losing sleep due to a new baby can exacerbate postpartum depression and anxiety. Meditation apps like Headspace can help parents manage stress and anxiety and subsequently aid sleep. An LSA wallet can support online sleep classes and resources, a night nurse in those early days with a newborn, or sleep aids parents can use to help them get a few more hours of sleep. 

High-quality childcare today is scarce. Direct reimbursement for expenses like daycare, preschool, nannies, or after-school programs can take a significant financial burden off working parents. Flexible work schedules or returnship programs that accommodate caretaking responsibilities further empower mothers to integrate their professional and family roles seamlessly. Meeting these care needs is not just an empathetic gesture; it’s a strategic investment in the success of mothers in the workplace. 

Be the workplace where mothers shine

Motherhood is transformative. Every journey is unique; every mom deserves to feel valued and supported. Ensure your organization is holding space for mothers and working as hard as they do to overcome challenges in their lives and the workplace. It’s not just about babies. It’s about building a workforce community that thrives. 

Lifestyle benefits are the superpower of supportive employers. Foster an inclusive, equitable workplace where mothers can confidently manage their dual roles and enhance job satisfaction and productivity. These must-have benefits underscore your commitment to celebrating the diverse journeys of motherhood. 

Happy, supported moms are engaged, productive employees. They’re the backbone of your team, and investing in their well-being isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s a win-win. When you empower a family-centered culture, everyone thrives. Take the first step toward building a network of benefits to support maternal health with a Lifestyle Spending Account from Espresa. Reach out to our team for a free demo!

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