WASHINGTON — "The shutdown trumps leave." That’s how a mother summed-up some of the hardships new furloughed moms may be facing on Maternity Leave as Day 35 of the partial government shutdown approaches.
Whether through stress or through lack of access to care, this impasse could have a huge impact on some of the youngest Americans: the furloughed workers’ babies. That’s why the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington is pumping-up their support, literally. Free pump rentals is on the list of items they’re offering to furloughed moms and and their children.
The group is also offering free breastfeeding sessions with a certified counselor on Thursdays. WUSA attended and heard what some of the new moms are dealing with.
“She’s sort of 10th percentile in terms of weight, which makes me like very sensitive to issues around how much she’s eating,” said one woman.
Another concern that came up, was what one mother says she saw happen to certain employees (who perform critical government work) during the last government shutdown.
This mother asked to not be identified.
“Maternity leave, paternity leave, annual leave, sick leave were all canceled and employees were required to show up to work, no matter what the circumstances, or they would not be paid … there was one new parent, a dad who was called back to work,” she said.
Jessica Klement with the National Active & Retired Federal Employees Association says certain "excepted" employees on leave will not be pulled back in this time around. Klement also says there is no maternity or paternity leave for government employees. We're told most women and men use sick time for maternity and paternity time.
Those new parents are now pushing into a month without pay. They'll be dealing with February bills and rents due, in addition to the stress that comes with being a new parent.
If she didn’t have savings, another furloughed mom told WUSA 9, “It would be so difficult because it doesn’t stop. You know, especially if you have to buy formula for your baby, or everyone has to buy diapers or everything else, those things are not cheap.”
This mother also asked not to be identified.
“The weight check is important to make sure baby is growing,” said Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington Executive Director Gina Caruso. Caruso says these essential checks come with a co-pay at the doctor’s office.
It’s one of the many reasons why the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington is looking for those new furloughed moms.
“That can be very important in those early weeks if you’re trying to establish your milk supply," said Caruso on the importance of pumping and having access to pumping equipment.
The furloughed mom tells WUSA she's trying to stay positive -- at least the shutdown let her attend.
“It does give me some time to get things in order,” she told WUSA. The woman got to focus on her daughter Thursday and why the child is not eating certain foods.
The Greater DC Diaper Bank is also distributing 100 diapers per baby near the World Central Kitchen #ChefsForFeds operation at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Parents are required to show government ID and bring their child’s birth certificate.