Social media users are sharing shocking stories of how they were mistreated at work following miscarriages, after a Twitter user posted a heartbreaking story of her own.
“Asked the girl ringing up my clothes about her day and she said she was struggling because she’d just had a miscarriage and they made her work in the baby section,” Twitter user @no_goblins posted on Thursday.
Since then, the post has garnered more than 16,000 retweets and nearly 300,000 likes, and has prompted numerous women to describe their own experiences on the subject.
One women, a lawyer, said a colleague viciously berated her for trying to take time off.
“I had opposing counsel conferenced in to my hospital room after my baby died when I was 7 months pregnant to let him know I needed to cancel a deposition scheduled later that afternoon,” Twitter user positivelycarin wrote. “His response: ‘It’s not my problem you’re a human coffin.’ I still have nightmares.”
Others spoke of how little time off women they knew were able to take after having a miscarriage.
“Watched a girl I used to work with get yelled at for insisting on two weeks off (unpaid) after miscarrying,” wrote Twitter user oscar_neptune. “We worked in a nursery.”
Though shocking, the stories are not exactly surprising: the United States has some of the worst maternal healthcare among wealthy peer nations.
The US is the only industrialised nation where the maternal mortality rate is rising, a rate that’s already one of the highest in the world.
Infant mortality in the US is also abysmal, with America ranking 33rd out of 36 countries in the OECD.
Things are even worse for Black and Latinx mothers in America, who experience infant and maternal mortality at more than twice the national average, while white, college-educated mothers have health outcomes comparable to wealthy European women.
A number of factors drive this low standard of care and high level of disparity, including racism, pervasive chronic disease in America, scant public health programmes, and a lack of the sort of universal, free healthcare found in most peer nations. Between 2014 and 2019, the US was the only nation in the OECD to see a decline in life expectancy.
When it comes to working women, things are just as challenging. The US is the only high-income country that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave, and only 20 per cent of private sector workers had access to such care in 2020. For low-wage retail and service workers, who are disproportionately people of colour, paid maternal time off is even further out of reach.
As a result, numerous women head back to work just days after giving birth, risking postpartum health consequences. Nearly a quarter of women are back at work in the US within a week and a half of their pregnancies.
Some policies are attempting to change this shocking status quo.
In April, Illinois became the first state approved by the federal government to extend Medicaid, the public insurance programme for low-income people, to mother for up to a year after birth. At the federal level, both the FAMILY Act and Joe Biden’s American Families Plan aim to create a 12-week paid parental leave guarantee.
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