Preparing for the birth of a baby includes more than setting up the cosleeper and researching your own birth plan preferences. Many working moms to be also need to figure out the financial aspect of taking a maternity leave. Especially in the United States where we are woefully behind the rest of the world.
We recently sat down with Take 12 Founder and CEO Margi Scott to talk to her about the new trend of crowdfunding maternity leave, and the potential benefits for both mom, and baby.
Can you tell us a little about your personal story, and your inspiration for starting Take 12?
I started Take 12 after the birth of my twins in 2016. As a mother of four, I had experienced three different unpaid or partially paid maternity leaves. Before the twins’ birth, I saved to take all 12 weeks I qualified for through FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). Due to my own acute liver failure I was forced to deliver the twins 5 1/2 weeks premature. This gave me less time to save, and set me up for a long recovery, with NICU time in store for my babies.
My family took a huge financial hit for me to take those 12 weeks, but it was the time I needed to recover and bond with the babies, so we chose to go into debt. I was frustrated with the financial stress. At the same time, I had friends and family graciously dropping off gifts of clothing, toys and other items that we didn’t need. While digging into the issue of unpaid leave I found that over 2,000 women were crowdfunding their own maternity leave online. I thought, it’s socially acceptable to register for stuff, why not time? What if we could register for the time we need most to recover and bond after birth? That’s when I decided to start Take 12.
What factors limit women in their maternity leaves?
Most women are limited in some way. A paid maternity leave plan is still something that a minority of companies have. Self-employed, freelance, lower income earners, service industry, and small company employees have the most limitations due to insufficient policies and not qualifying for FMLA. FMLA are entitles qualified women to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. In many cases they are unable to take the time, because they are unable to afford the loss of income.
Why did you choose Take 12 as the name for the crowdfunding site?
Take 12 refers back to my story and so many others out there. Stories of women who by law qualify for 12 weeks at home, but cannot afford to take it. The belief behind Take 12 is that all moms deserve time to recover and bond after birth or adoption. We are also advocates for parental leave as a whole. The reason for addressing maternity leave so strongly is that I feel it presents the most urgent health issue for working moms. 25% of women in the US go back to work within 10 days of giving birth due to insufficient leave policies. To me, this statistic is horrifying and unacceptable.
How are family and friends responding to your users and their maternity leave registries?
I see both responses. While asking for what you need does not sit well with some traditional etiquette, it’s a sign of the times. In cases like unpaid leave, it is the only way to shed light on the injustice that working women tolerate. The landscape for working mothers has changed drastically over the past 20 years. Pretty much all moms who have had babies in the past 15 years respond with a resounding yes to the need for a registry like Take12. As a whole, friends and family love the idea of being able to help their expectant mom with a gift that means more time at home with baby. It’s the best gift there is!
Unlike a lot of baby gifts, you can’t hand down leave. Do users create leave registries for their second or third pregnancies as well?
Absolutely. We see a lot of second and third time moms, because they have the “stuff”. They also understand better than most first time moms the real stress that comes with postpartum financial burden.
What greater influence do you hope Take 12 could have?
I want Take 12 to be the go to place for working moms to take charge of their maternity leave. I want the Take 12 community to continue to grow as a place working parents can go to find community, support, and solutions. My work as a parental leave advocate will certainly lead to work with policy change. But with the time it takes to make that level of change, I have no doubt that Take 12 will be needed and called upon as a creative solution to the maternity leave crisis that is happening in the us right now.