Cash-strapped parents without paid maternity leave are turning to crowdfunding sites to raise money so they can spend time at home with their babies.
New mums and dads are relying on the kindness of family and friends – even strangers – to help them survive at home for longer after baby arrives.
Crowdfunding sites are full of pages set up by parents-to-be asking for handouts to allow them to get by after dropping one income.
Melbourne mum Fiona Morris is giving the strategy a try, with her GoFundMe page New Baby set up to help her and husband Stuart when their second child arrives.
“Now, not long after the first surprise we are expecting another… and we have not financially fully recovered from the first!” Fiona writes.
“We are very excited that this has happened to us but wished we had had a little more time to plan and save!
“We are hoping I can stay home with baby number two and Shona for at least eight months, but we don’t know if financially that will be possible.
“So here is our shout-out for help. If any of our friends or family can help support us we would be very greatful (sic). Any amount will be very helpful and will be used to pay the bills and get us through the tough months when I won’t be working.”
Fiona says though she is entitled to maternity leave from her work, it is unpaid.
“We will have half our usual income and this will be a real struggle for us,” she says.
So far the family hasn’t received any donations.
In the US, the practice is more common, with Jennifer Warren Baker telling Today Parents she set up a fundraiser not long before she gave birth to her fourth child in January.
Jennifer, the family’s primary income earner, desperately wanted to take two months off from work, but is self-employed and has no access to paid maternity leave.
“I had to think creatively…people are crowdfunding everything else, why can’t I do this?” she says.
The family raised US$3200, which was “absolutely essential” to allow almost eight weeks off, Jennifer says: “I think people felt sorry for me that I was in this position, that I had to do this.”
Pennsylvania couple Katie Feliz and her husband Esli raised almost US$1200 on their GoFundMe page before the birth of daughter Emberly on March 27.
“There would be bills that we probably couldn’t have paid. Student loans we may have defaulted on,” Katie tells Today Parents.
GoFundMe spokeswoman Kelsea Little says campaigns that mention maternity leave or child care have raised more than US$8.8 million across 5800 fundraisers.
In Australia the government chips in for up to 18 weeks to help working parents take time off work to care for a newborn or recently adopted child.
Read our recent post to find out how Sweden’s generous maternity leave knocks Australia down the list of the best countries to raise a family.
(via Today Parents, images via GoFundMe)