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Helping Patients Seek Postpartum Accommodations

You can play an important role in ensuring your patients receive the accommodations they need at work to support a healthy recovery from childbirth and postpartum medical issues.

The Problem

Postpartum complications like tearing, pelvic floor dysfunction, back or pelvic pain, incontinence, infections, and mood and anxiety disorders are common, affecting hundreds of thousands of American women each year. Physicians typically recommend that women take leave from work for at least 6 to 8 weeks after childbirth to recover and establish breastfeeding, and many women need more time.  However taking this time off work is impossible for many American women. The United States remains the only industrialized nation with no national paid leave policy, and 86% of workers have no access to paid leave. Forty percent of women of childbearing age are not entitled to take a single day of leave – even unpaid – following childbirth under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). One quarter of employees return to work within two weeks after giving birth.

As a result, many women return to work before they are fully recovered from childbirth and related medical conditions. These women may need reasonable accommodations to perform their job duties effectively, to avoid exacerbating their medical conditions, and to protect their health.

the Solution

Health care providers can support their patients’ postpartum recovery and long term health by providing them with effective work accommodation notes that help patients get the work accommodations they need following childbirth.

A team of doctors and lawyers created online tools to help postpartum care providers to write work notes that increase the likelihood that patients will receive the accommodations they need to continue working and earning an income. Note that these online tools refer to “pregnancy,” but they are equally useful for writing postpartum accommodation notes. Simply communicate in your note that the patient has a condition related to her “recent pregnancy” where the guidance says to refer to the patient’s “pregnancy.”

Please select the state where your patient works (not necessarily the state where you practice) to get started.

Postpartum Mental Health Conditions

Writing notes for patients with postpartum mental health disorders presents specific challenges because of societal stigma against mental illness and because patients with mental health disorders may need different types of accommodations than patients with physical health conditions.   Click below to download specific guidance on writing effective accommodation notes for postpartum mental health conditions and a chart of potential accommodations for postpartum mental health conditions.

Talk With An Expert

To ask questions or arrange for a presentation at your healthcare institution, contact us at (415) 565-4640.

Workplace Protections

To learn more about the workplace protections available to your postpartum patients, visit A Better Balance’s Babygate website, a Know Your Rights project clarifying legal protections around pregnancy discrimination, breastfeeding, family leave, and more. You may also refer your patients to the Center for WorkLife Law’s free legal hotline: [email protected] or (415) 565-4640 or A Better Balance’s legal hotline: (212) 430-5982 in New York, or (615) 915-2417 in Tennessee. In California, you may contact Legal Aid At Work and Family Helpline at (800) 880-8047.

You have new rights as a pregnant, postpartum, or lactating worker! Learn more about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act today.