Pregnancy Leave from Work: Understanding All of The Elements

Mid-Michigan Moms is thrilled to partner with McLaren Lapeer Region and McLaren Flint to bring you Navigating Your Pregnancy, an editorial series event. In this installment of our Editorial Series Collection, McLaren, and the #MidMichiganMoms team share fifteen different posts addressing all aspects of life as a pregnant woman. From humor to stories of perseverance, no topic is left off the table. Tune in, learn, share, and join the conversation!

When making your pregnancy leave plan from work, it is vital to understand all the elements involved.

pregnancy leave

You need to know your rights as a pregnant woman when taking pregnancy leave. If you have worked in the United States for more than a year and are a part of a company that houses more than 50 employees, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows you 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn. Laws involving maternity leave vary by state, so it is best to do your research while planning your leave.

It is also important to learn your specific company’s employee handbook to assess their rules and regulations for maternity leave. Be sure to tell your boss first about your pregnancy. It is usually best to share this information towards the end of your first trimester, as the risk of miscarriage is significantly lower at this time.

Make a plan with your boss for your pregnancy leave that addresses what will need to be done in your absence and when you are likely to return. You may choose a specific day to start your maternity leave or you may choose to work up until the very last minute. Many mothers choose to work up until the last minute, so they are able to save all their maternity leave days for the time after their baby is born. You could also choose to work from home or your last few days before birth if your company allows.

Planning to return to work after pregnancy can be stressful. For tips to managing stress during pregnancy or pregnancy leave, check out these quick and easy science-backed tips and tricks provided by Dr. Jennifer Carty McIntosh, Ph.D. And of course, never hesitate to reach out to your primary medical care professional if you are seeking support and advice.

About The Author

Jennifer Carty Mcintosh, PhD, LP

Dr. Carty Mcintosh is a Clinical Psychologist who completed a fellowship in clinical health psychology in primary care. She attended medical school at Wayne State University. She is accepting new patients at the McLaren Flint Family Medicine & Behavioral Health Center.

To read more from our 2020 editorial series, ‘Navigating Your Pregnancy’, click here.

Pregnancy Care Options: Midwives and OB/GYNs

Mid-Michigan Moms is thrilled to partner with McLaren Lapeer Region and McLaren Flint to bring you Navigating Your Pregnancy, an editorial series event. In this installment of our Editorial Series Collection, McLaren, and the #MidMichiganMoms team share fifteen different posts addressing all aspects of life as a pregnant woman. From humor to stories of perseverance, no topic is left off the table. Below, Jessica Braman, Certified Nurse Midwife, shares her best tips for managing stress during pregnancy. Tune in, learn, share, and join the conversation!

Midwives and OB/GYNs are health professionals who will guide you from pre-pregnancy, during, and after birth. Often you may choose one or the other, but you can also choose to receive care from both.

There are three types of midwives:

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM)
Certified Nurse Midwives have a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery and are RN’s who have graduated from an accredited program and passed a national certification exam. They
must have a license to practice in their state, can prescribe most medications, and 95% of them practice in a hospital setting.

Certified Midwives
Certified Midwives have a bachelor’s degree in another field other than nursing but have the same midwifery education and must pass the same national certification exam as CNM’s. They must also have a license to practice in their state and most work in a hospital setting. 

Certified Practice Midwives (CPMs)
Certified Practice Midwives may have apprenticeship training, may graduate from an accredited education program, pass a different certification exam than CNM’s and Certified Midwives, usually work in birth centers and homes, and cannot prescribe most medications.

Midwives provide much of the same care as OB/GYNs. This includes pregnancy, labor and labor pain management, birth, and postpartum care. They also manage things like family planning, preconception and infertility counseling, prescriptions, contraception, gynecologic care, cancer screening and mammography, immunizations, menopause, sexual health management, sexually transmitted infections, and well-woman/primary care visits.

Depending on the risk level, midwives can consult, co-manage, or transfer care to an OB/GYN if needed when a pregnancy or delivery becomes high risk during care.

Midwives tend to have a more holistic/ naturalistic view of pregnancy and specialize in natural or unmedicated birth but are also able to manage pain medication and epidurals if that is what the patient chooses. Midwives focus generally on education and shared decision making with their patients so that the patient may make whatever medical decisions are right for them and their family.

Midwives and OB/GYNs both guide you from pre-pregnancy, during, and after birth. Again, you may choose one or the other, but you can also choose to receive care from both.

Managing Stress During Pregnancy: Science-Backed Tools + Tricks

Mid-Michigan Moms is thrilled to partner with McLaren Lapeer Region and McLaren Flint to bring you Navigating Your Pregnancy, an editorial series event. In this installment of our Editorial Series Collection, McLaren, and the #MidMichiganMoms team share fifteen different posts addressing all aspects of life as a pregnant woman. From humor to stories of perseverance, no topic is left off the table. Below, Dr. Jennifer Carty McIntosh, Ph.D., shares her best tips for managing stress during pregnancy. Tune in, learn, share, and join the conversation!

 

Stress in pregnancy is common and for many, it can be a challenge to manage worried thoughts, find ways to relax or de-stress.
 
stress
 
Thankfully, there are plenty of science-backed tools and tricks that can help with managing pregnancy stress!
 
Cognitive reframing is an approach that helps us to shift our thoughts. When you notice a negative or worrying thought, take a moment to critically examine it.
  • Ask yourself – is this thought true? Is it helpful? How else could I think about this?
  • Then, see if you can find a more balanced thought.
  • If this thought crops up again {which they like to do!} remind yourself of the new, balanced thought you created.

Keep practicing until it sticks! Mindfulness allows us to bring our attention to the present moment without judgment and can be done anywhere while doing anything, like while doing the dishes, eating, or going for a walk.

A simple way to practice is to focus on your breath. Start by paying attention to your breath – notice what it feels like to breathe in, as the breath travels down into your lungs, and as the breath exhales from your body. Take 5-6 breaths like this, or however many feel good to you, and then return to your day.

For more guided mindfulness check out these helpful videos on mindful walking and eating.

Focus on things you are grateful for. Write down three things each day that you appreciate, bring you joy, or that made you smile.

For an extra challenge, try to find three new things each day. And, remember to drink water, eat, move your body, and rest!

If tricks like these do not help to reduce your stress, consider talking with your PCP or OB/GYN about additional treatment options.

An OB/GYN’s Tips For Managing Illness During Pregnancy

Mid-Michigan Moms is thrilled to partner with McLaren Lapeer Region and McLaren Flint to bring you Navigating Your Pregnancy, an editorial series event. In this installment of our Editorial Series Collection, McLaren, and the #MidMichiganMoms team share fifteen different posts addressing all aspects of life as a pregnant woman. From humor to stories of perseverance, no topic is left off the table. Below, Dr. Ahmed Abdulla, MD, OB/GYN shares his best tips for moms who are ill during pregnancy. Tune in, learn, share, and join the conversation!

Illness during pregnancy can be debilitating.

If you’ve been through pregnancy before, chances are that you’ve experienced some level of nausea throughout one, or more, of your trimesters. If you’ve never been ill while pregnant, count yourself very lucky. First-time moms, never fear! Below, Dr. Ahmed Abdulla, MD, OB/GYN has shared some information and tips for managing illness and nausea during your pregnancy.

illDr. Abdulla shares that, although called morning sickness, nausea can occur at any time of the day during pregnancy. Levels of the pregnancy hormone HCG develop rapidly during the first trimester, which is the cause of nausea during pregnancy.

Some tips to control nausea during pregnancy include:

  • Eating smaller meals
  • Snacking on saltine crackers and small snacks throughout the day
  • Avoiding triggering smells when possible
  • Not lying down after eating
  • Avoiding spicy and fatty foods
  • Wearing an anti-nausea wristband
  • Consuming ginger such as ginger tea, ginger candies, or ginger ale
  • Increasing your intake of vitamin B6 as directed by your OB/GYN
  • Changing the time of day you take your prenatal vitamin
  • Getting plenty of rest.

If you’ve tried these tips and still feel ill, Dr. Ahmed Abdulla encourages you to speak with your OB/GYN to consider other options for relief. It is also important to keep an eye on yourself for signs of dehydration.

If you are unable to keep food and drinks down, it is best to call your OB/GYN for further care. 

Nutrition + Exercise During Pregnancy: I Can Eat Anything I Want, Right?

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Mid-Michigan Moms is thrilled to partner with McLaren Lapeer Region and McLaren Flint to bring you Navigating Your Pregnancy, an editorial series event. In this installment of our Editorial Series Collection, McLaren, and the #MidMichiganMoms team share fifteen different posts addressing all aspects of life as a pregnant woman. From humor to stories of perseverance, no topic is left off the table. Tune in, learn, share, and join the conversation!

You’re pregnant. Time to eat anything you want, right? Think again.

After years of watching my diet, I really wanted to look at my pregnancy as a free pass to indulge in all of my favorite things. As luck would have it, I wasn’t plagued with morning sickness and absolutely every food item sounded amazing. I mean everything – from sweet to savory, I wanted to eat it! Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Proper nutrition is key to a healthy pregnancy.

NutritionYes, your pregnant body needs more calories than you would normally consume. According to the American Pregnancy Association, 300 extra calories per day in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters is generally the benchmark. So, no, it’s not like a free pass at an all-you-can-eat buffet with unlimited amounts and options. Your body needs some TLC. And proper nutrition and exercise are a major part of pregnancy self-care. 

Yes, exercise too. Not only is your body growing a human {which is an amazing feat in and of itself} but it’s preparing for the workout of its life, too. Childbirth is intense, and the better you are prepared for it physically, the easier it will be for you both before and after birth.

Now, this isn’t the time to embark upon a brand new exercise regime. If you’re thinking about doing this, start slowly and talk to your doctor about what is best.

If you’ve maintained a consistent exercise schedule prior to pregnancy, you should more than likely be able to continue it to some extent, under the care of your primary medical professional. General guidelines to exercise may be found on the American Pregnancy Association’s website, here

When it comes to nutrition and exercise, your own doctor will guide you through everything that you need. Each pregnancy is different, and every person is different when it comes to our specific needs and even potential restrictions. Maybe you’re having twins. You might be so sick that you can’t even fathom eating more than a piece of plain toast or sipping some ginger ale without vomiting {I’ve been there, I get it!}. Or perhaps you’ve suffered a previous miscarriage and are terrified to exercise for fear that it might hurt your baby. These are all legitimate questions and concerns that your doctor will address with you as needed.

Pregnancy cravings are real. The need for rest is real, too. Having been through three pregnancies myself, I can confidently tell you that cravings and rest can happily co-exist with proper nutrition and exercise. It’s a happy marriage that is so beneficial for your baby, and great for your own body not only during, but after pregnancy as well.

Keeping Your Kids Engaged in Remote Learning: One Mom’s Top Tips

The first few weeks of remote learning have left me feeling pretty lost as a parent. My 5-year-old couldn’t sit through a movie he wanted to watch in a theater for two hours let alone a 2.5-hour lecture on a screen in our living room.

This was something I not only worried about in the weeks leading up to the start of our virtual school year but absolutely dreaded. I had no idea how I was going to manage remote learning on my end and there didn’t seem to be any resources available.

Did the decision-makers expect the teachers to be engaging enough to keep the attention of small children for this long? Or had they not considered the equally large burden being placed on parents?

So far, remote learning has been brutal on my end. His classmates know me as the shoulder in my son’s thumbnail, needing to sit glued to him the entire 2.5 hours. The only tools I came in with were bribing, begging, and sometimes physically carrying my child back to his chair repeatedly. We were both frustrated and crying the first few days. It wasn’t working.

remote learningMy main concern was that this environment was going to ruin my kids’ natural love of learning. So on the third day, I reached out for help, starting with his teacher. I also emailed the principal with my concerns and even threw a Hail Mary to the superintendent.

It’s always best to communicate any problems you’re having to your child’s school first. My son’s teacher was accommodating. His principal directed us to a website for resources. And the superintendent was not only sympathetic but also excited to deliver his plan to reopen schools to a very frustrated parent. We had a light at the end of the tunnel.

But in the meantime, we needed real, practical tools for my wiggly little learner. So I also reached out to a few experts including an early education specialist, a few experienced homeschooling moms and teachers, and all of my mom friends sinking in the same boat.

Physical Tools

Give your child something to fidget with. Putty to squeeze, velcro to pull apart, something they can click. Anything that will keep their hands busy while they listen.

Give their feet something to do too. If they can’t sit for long periods of time, let them stand. Cut a tennis ball and have them push down with their foot. Let them sit on a ball.

remote learningWrap a band around their chair legs to kick and stretch. This was by and far the best idea I NEVER thought would work. I used a heavy resistance exercise band and on the first day, my son made it the entire two and a half hours in his chair. I’ll admit, the novelty wore off after a few days, but it gave us a small reprieve.

Behavioral Tools

I received mixed reviews on incentive-based reward charts or clip-up charts. Some educators swear by them, and some loathe them. I know one of my sons does really well, and the other not so much. Once he has nothing left to lose, he behaves like a kid with nothing left to lose. 

His teacher also offered to allow him to earn extra breaks. If he sits for five minutes, then he gets a five-minute break and they can build his attention stamina from there. This also didn’t work because once he’s allowed to completely disengage, it’s really hard to get him back.

Trust Your Mama Bear Heart

Three weeks in, things haven’t gotten much easier. We still have some really awful days where we need to end the call early. When I’m frustrated and he’s crying, we walk away and resolve to try again tomorrow.

He’s not a bad kid. I’m not a bad mom. We’re all building the plane as we fly it, so they say, teachers included. And while some are naturally engaging on a screen, others have better success in the classroom. The best we can do as parents right now is the best we can do and that’s enough.

So now I’m reaching out to you: What techniques are working for you to keep your kids engaged in remote, online learning?

To The Girl Who Lost Her Best Friend

This is to the girl who lost her best friend.

Perhaps it was recent. Perhaps it’s been a couple of years. Either way, I am sure it hurts all the same.

Perhaps there was a fight. Perhaps things trickled off over time. 

Perhaps it’s still fresh and the pangs of hurt are constant. Perhaps the anger has faded to sadness.

Perhaps you’ve stopped replaying events over and over in your mind in hopes of pinpointing exactly what happened and what you could have done differently. 

best friend

Perhaps you’re now able to see where you were a bad friend. You’re seeing it more and more. And you feel the twinge of guilt in your stomach when you think about those times. While at the same time, you’re afraid to formally apologize because you don’t want to ruin her peace or yours. 

Perhaps there’s hope of returning to the way you were. Perhaps you know the ship has sailed and you just hold onto the memories. 

Perhaps you feel like you will never have a best friend again, despite so desperately yearning for that type of connection.

So you wait. You wait and wait and wait.

You try to force some stuff, but it doesn’t feel right.

You retreat. You close yourself off.

Then, it happens.

best friend

You open your eyes and see what was there, in front of you, all along. 

Those who never left your side.

Those who checked in on you every day. 

Those who have so carefully handled your heart and soul. Those who you may have even wept to regarding losing the “best friend.” 

You have experienced loss, yes. But what you may gain will be far greater than that loss will ever be. 

Realization of the treasures in your life. 

There will be a twinge of sadness, just like with all failed relationships, that things will never be the same. Because nothing will ever replace that other best friend. 

Gradually, though, you will find the courage and the wisdom to accept and embrace those who have loved you through the seasons. And those you have loved back.

You will realize in your loss that what you have must be cherished even more. 

You will see that you’ve been accepted and loved all along. That those beautiful treasures in your think just as highly of you as you do, of them. 

best friend

I hope in time, you will continue to smile about all of the memories and will accept that while you can’t fix or change the past, you can learn and move forward.

I hope you know that it’s okay to open up, and to be yourself.

Because there is so much to love about yourself. 

You’re fully capable of giving love. 

You’re worthy of love. 

You will get through this.

Mid-Michigan Moms Spooktacular Virtual Halloween Costume Contest!

Listen up mama’s, we told you we were going to be dropping ways to keep it fa-boo-lous all October long and if your ghoul who loves dressing up and lives for costume coordination then we have a contest for you!

Grab your boo crew and say CHEESE! We at Mid-Michigan Moms are thrilled to announce that we are hosting our first-ever Spooktacular VIRTUAL Halloween Costume Contest!

 
  1. Like and follow Mid-Michigan Moms Facebook page
  2. Submit 1 photo of your costume{s} {make sure to read what qualifies in contest rules below} to [email protected] with the Subject: COSTUME CONTEST by MIDNIGHT Saturday, October 31st.  Please include in the body of the email your name, city in which you reside, and a costume title. We will use the costume title as the ‘description’ below your photo in the album
  3. Keep your eyes peeled for the Spooktacular Costume Contest photo album to be posted on our Facebook feed Sunday, November 1st at 9 am est.
  4. Like or Love the photos of your favorite costumes! {these like and loves will be what counts as virtual votes!}
  5. Share, share, share the ORIGINAL contest album and encourage your friends and family to like their favorite costume{s} i.e. yours!. The album and thus the photos will be available for ‘votes’ from 8 AM est through 8 PM est so you only have 12 hours to make your costume monsterpiece known! And we can not stress this enough the photo must be liked in the album on our Facebook page, not on a picture that is shared.  So please be sure that you are clear with your friends and family when asking them to vote! Only album image “likes” will be counted.
  6. The photo in the album with the most likes at 9 pm on Sunday, November 1st will be deemed our Mid-Michigan Moms most SPOOKTACULAR Costume and will be announced via a graphic at 930 PM est promptly following the contest.
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toy story halloween costume space
boy girl halloween costumes

Contest Rules

  1. Photographs submitted must include at least one child age 17 or under {this helps keep it fair for Mid-Michigan families} and photo must be current to October 2020
  2. Only one photo per household will be accepted. Again pictures must be EMAILED to [email protected], not posted to our Facebook page.  Mid-Michigan Moms will not accept pictures posted to the page as official contest entries
  3. Only submit pictures to which you have the legal rights to. By sending the picture to Mid-Michigan Moms, you are agreeing to have the image posted on social media
  4. Photo may be an entire family, kids only, kids + pets – as long as there is at least one person who fits Rule #1 the photo will be accepted baring it meets all expectations detailed below in Rule #4
  5. Kind of obvious but we have to say it, the photo should be free from the following:
    profanity, sexual language, political opinions or endorsement of a party or
    candidate, political commentary, op-ed commentary on controversial social
    and/or political issues, religious opinion, and derogatory or inflammatory language. Mid-Michigan Moms has full discretion to determine what is and what isn’t appropriate for this virtual costume contest
  6. Contest open to those that follow Mid-Michigan Moms Facebook Page and are Mid-Michigan residents only
  7. Photo ‘likes’ must be on our original Facebook post in order to be counted
  8. If your photo is selected as the winner of the virtual costume contest, you must respond to our Facebook Messenger message notifying you of so within 24 hours – after 24 hours, the next contestant in order of likes will be deemed the cutest costume winner
  9. Contest winners must submit 4 {or more!} photos of their prize/experience to Mid-Michigan Moms Blog for publication in a summary post of the contest
  10. Mid-Michigan Moms reserves the right to remove any participants and will have final say over the winner in case of a tie.

astronaut halloween costume

So what exactly does the BEST Halloween Costume in Mid-Michigan win? 

We are thrilled to have an amazing grand prize package from us and two of our favorite Michigan businesses;
     – A mini family photo session with the uber-talented Amanda Shaffer Photography. Due to the high demand for Amanda’s work this session will take place in the Spring of 2021 {hey more time to prep, right?!} and must take place within an hour of Lansing! BONUS however if you are able to make the drive TO Amanda she will upgrade to a FULL family session! 
     – A gallon of Cider and a bag of donuts from one of our favorite local businesses Mueller’s Orchard and Cider Mill!
     – A $50 Amazon gift card and a bottle of BOOze ie. our favorite fall wine for Mom or Dad {must be 21 years of age} from us right here at Mid-Michigan Mom plus a pumpkin full of spooky treats for all the little ghouls and goblins in the winning photo! 

So with that IF YOU’VE GOT, HAUNT IT – WE WANT TO SEE THE BEST COSTUMES IN MID-MICHIGAN!

I’m Not Going to Let You Quit Kindergarten: A Lesson in Grit

The other day at school pickup, my tow-headed daughter shuffled down the sidewalk toward me, her big pink backpack dwarfing her small frame. As she drew closer, I knew something was wrong. Even though her face was mostly covered by her mask and her blonde hair, her eyes were glassy and brimming with tears. 

“Hey hon, what’s wrong?” I said as I gave her a quick hug. 

She promptly burst into loud, unvarnished sobs. “I don’t want to go to kindergarten anymore!” she wailed. 

I was a tad embarrassed by her volume, and the other parents at pickup were staring. I went into containment mode. “Honey, let’s get you buckled in the car and I’ll get you a snack and we can talk about it,” I attempted to soothe. 

Hot tears raced down her cheeks as she crawled into our van. The crying didn’t abate in the slightest. “I want to QUIT! I want to go back to PRESCHOOL!” she demanded furiously. 

“That surprises me! I thought you liked kindergarten. What makes you say that?” I asked. 

There was a lot of hiccuping, snuffling, and more tears and she struggled to get the painful truth out. “I… I can’t… draw the letter S!” She looked up at me, blotchy face all despair and vulnerability. “In preschool, we don’t have to write!”

“Mama, I just want to quit!” 

quitThis was an important moment. I knew it. I went to school for teaching, and I’m married to a teacher. Most of the work we both do in our life and ministry centers on serving kids and their families. We know what you are “supposed to” do when this situation arises, when a kid is struggling to learn a new skill and they want to give up. How many books had I read about perseverance? The importance of grit, and how to teach it to children? 

But you know what? When I looked into my beloved girl’s face, saw her anguish and fear, you know what I wanted to let her do? 

I wanted to throw my book-smart theories out the window. 

I wanted to let her quit. 

There is almost nothing more painful in life than to see your kid suffer. When they bring you a problem, what is your knee jerk response? It’s to help them. To get rid of the problem. Wipe it out. That’s what we did when they were little and skinned their knees, right? We kissed it and we did the work to make it better for them. That instinct doesn’t go away when they get older. 

At school, if their teacher or fellow student treats them unfairly? We first react with our heart, not our head. We don’t want to do the hard work of developing good communication skills with both our child and the offender. We want to yell at or gossip about the teacher, or to report the kid to the principal. If our kid didn’t get playing time in their chosen sport? We don’t first think to work on drills with them at home, we want to erase the issue. Stop the pain. Let the kid switch teams, or ream out the coach. Our little girl struggles to write the letter “s”? Let her quit kindergarten! Right? 

Wrong. 

Think about the most impactful lessons you’ve learned in your life. They probably weren’t the ones that someone handed to you. No one is good at something they try for the first time! If you want to master something, be it communication skills or learning your letters, you have to sit with it. Struggle with it. Do the hard work to get through it. That’s grit, and isn’t that kind of perseverance something we all need to get through life these days?  Grit is something I am working on cultivating in myself and definitely a value I want my children to have. As a mother, I often have to tell myself, “you can do hard things,” in tough moments, be it wrangling grouchy littles at church or folding a mountain of laundry or getting up for the 6th time with a fussy baby. The hard work you do as a mother is always worth it, even if you don’t get to see the results immediately. 

I had to summon all my work on grit when my daughter repeated her request to go back to preschool that night at bedtime. I took a deep breath, looked into her heartbreaking eyes, and told her the same thing I have to tell myself – “babygirl, you CAN do hard things. I’m not going to let you quit kindergarten, and here’s why…” 

We sang the Daniel Tiger song about “if there’s a problem, talk about it and make a plan!” We talked about it. We planned to work on writing the letter “s” after school for a few days. We prayed about it. She was still nervous about it and cried about it for another couple of days. But, lo and behold, the next week as she skipped down the sidewalk to my waiting arms, her eyes were grinning from ear to ear as she ripped off her mask and shouted, “I did it! Mama, I wrote an “s”!” 

The joy in her face had no rival and my heart was bursting with pride.

This is such an inconsequential example in the scheme of life, but I hope our struggles with the letter “s” reminds you to let your kids struggle a little, to let them develop their perseverance, and remember – you, too, can do hard things!

quit

Is grit an important value in your family?

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