New mom tracks her ‘invisible’ work during baby’s first year

August 16, 2023 – When a researcher specializing in maternal and child health decided to gather data about her own first year of motherhood, she found that caring for her baby involved an average of 26 additional hours of work per week.

“Looking at my data, I understand why I’ve felt so run-down: I worked an extra job all year,” wrote Lauren Spigel, a senior research specialist at Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in an August 8 essay in HuffPost. “The work came with some excellent perks—namely, a daughter who makes me proud every day—but the job was unpaid and largely unseen.”

Spigel’s essay highlighted the challenge of balancing her career alongside the hour-to-hour needs of her baby and household. She knew the early months of mothering would be tough, “but actually experiencing it made me understand how much of the work is invisible,” she wrote.

Using her research expertise, she tracked nursing sessions, pumping sessions, and day care communications, analyzing the data to see how much time she spent caring for her daughter. She found, for example, that she nursed her daughter for over three hours a day on average, and that her sleep was interrupted during more than 75% of her nights.

“I was shocked to find that I barely had a full night’s sleep, we missed several days of day care each month, and feeding my daughter added hours to my workday—even after I went back to work,” she noted.

She added, “We can shine a light on the workload that new parents carry. I shared my data to make our invisible workload visible. See our unseen labor, and pay us for our work.”

Read the HuffPost article: I Tracked The First Year Of A Mom’s Life After Having A Baby. What I Discovered Is Shocking