Resources for Mothers and Mom’s-to-be at Stony Brook University

BY: Sindhuja Tirumalai Govindarajan

First things first.

Are you pregnant? Are you thinking about getting pregnant? One of the first things you can do is check out the Pregnant On Campus Initiative website, which compiles lists of available resources for pregnant and parenting college students. While the above page is primarily geared towards undergraduate students, a lot of those resources are available to graduate students as well.

If you just discovered you are pregnant, or if you are planning to get pregnant while in graduate school, you’ll already have a thousand questions in your head. Things will happen real quick and you will want to set up a system that will help you in your quest to be a badass grad-mom. We know some of you are worriers, guess what, we are too! This article was put together after talking to fellow moms on campus, and we want to share our list of resources that we found useful both before, during, and after pregnancy.

Needless to say, this is a work in progress and will be updated as we learn about more resources available to graduate students. Please write to us at sbu.gwise@gmail.com if you know of a resource that we have not covered, and we will update this article.

Leaves and time off:

Stony Brook Childbirth Accommodation Policy (SB-CAP)

Silhouette of a pregnant woman.

The graduate school has set up an endowment to support graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants during and after pregnancy. This policy allows a measure of flexibility in graduate workload including academic extensions. Stipend support (if already receiving a stipend) is available for 12 weeks (RA’s) to a semester (TA’s and GA’s). Administrators of the CAP policy insist that it is not a leave like New York State Paid Family Leave (NYPFL), but more of an accommodation and a reprieve from full time coursework while maintaining a full time status.

The SB-CAP application form needs to be signed off by your advisor and graduate program director before it can be submitted to the SB-CAP program. The deadline for submission under current guidelines is by the 24th week of pregnancy. At the time of submission, you need to provide a rough start and end dates for the period during which you wish to avail SB-CAP. But the program directors understand that requirements may vary, and changes to the period can be made with a simple email to them.

International students, please note that you will need to maintain full time status in order to remain on an F1 visa. The use of SB-CAP will allow you to be enrolled full time for the entire semester, even if you receive stipend support only for 12 weeks as an RA. Please confirm this with your department and the Visa and Immigration Office.

Please contact Lori Carron at lori.carron@stonybrook.edu with questions or concerns. SB-CAP program is very responsive and extremely easy to avail.

New York State Paid Family Leave Logo

Officially a NY state law, this leave currently (2019) allows all NY employees (state or RF) to take up to 10 weeks off at 55% pay. Taken from the NYS PFL info page on the SUNY website:

The purpose of PFL is to help employees with work-life balance by providing a paid leave alternative to charging paid leave accruals for leaves of absence to attend to family* needs associated with:
the birth or placement of a biological, adopted, or foster child (first 12 months)

Please contact HR benefits office if you would like to apply for this leave. It is generally recommended to submit all of the paperwork to NYS at least 30 days before the start of expected leave.

Both parents are eligible to apply for this leave.

Family and Medical Leave Act

FMLA is a federal law that guarantees protection of employment and benefits for up to 12 weeks without pay. Application for this leave also goes through HR benefits office. Both parents are eligible to apply for this leave.

If you choose to take both NYPFL and FMLA, please note that you still only get a maximum for 12 weeks time off. You will get the partial wage benefits for the duration of NYPFL and go unpaid for the remainder time left in FMLA.

All options discussed above require paperwork that shows that you are about to become a mom. This could be a doctor’s note if you are pregnant and having a biological baby, or adoption/fostering paperwork.

Some of the above leaves can be broken up into smaller chunks, i.e., you may not need to take all 12 weeks in a single stretch but take 3 days off one week, and 4 days off the next. Please contact the respective administrators to figure out an option that works for you.

Other financial assistance and fellowships

From our Top Ten Fellowships Post in January: M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship

  • The M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship was established by Hildred Blewett before she passed, leaving nearly everything she had to the American Physical Society for scholarships for women in physics. She wanted to help women overcome professional obstacles by establishing a fellowship to help women return to physics research after having to interrupt their career. This is a one year award of up to $45,000 and can be renewed the following year for more support. This style of fellowship is very much needed in science, as many women struggle to get back into their field after taking a break to care for children or family members. Hopefully, more fellowships similar to this in other fields become available in the future. The application is due June 1st and is available to residents of the U.S. and Canada.
Baby leopard on a log

This is the only fellowship we are currently aware of but don’t forget to check for others – and then let us know so that we can update our list!

Prenatal Childbirth Classes

Whichever hospital you choose for childbirth, they typically offer a series of classes during pregnancy that are designed to walk you through hospital labor and delivery resources, childbirth, and newborn baby care. If you plan to go to SBU hospital for childbirth, you can benefit from free prenatal classes that are held on Wednesdays or Saturdays.

If you are pregnant and already have older children, SBU Children’s Hospital conducts sibling classes to help parents and older siblings prepare for the new baby.

Postpartum Resources

If you choose to breastfeed your baby, or want to know more before making that decision, please consider going to prenatal classes which usually include infant nutrition lessons. In addition, this information may be of use to you.

Breast pumps

Most insurance companies provide breast pumps free of cost to new moms who intend to breastfeed. The process is usually very simple, contact your insurance provider for more details.

Breastfeeding support groups

Lactation consultants and nurses are available in most hospitals and in some pediatric practices. For additional support and to meet other breastfeeding moms, these practices may also organize breastfeeding support groups. SBU hospital breastfeeding support group meets Mondays.

Women, Infants and Children program (WIC)

Even though it is discussed in the pregnantoncampus web page above, WIC requires a special mention because it offers nutrition support to moms and children with an economic disadvantage. That includes free breast pumps and formula too! WIC can be available by anyone, regardless of citizenship status. To sign up or get more info, please navigate to the bottom of this webpage to find a representative nearest to you.

Child Care

Stony Brook Child Care Services, with support from Stony Brook Graduate Student Organization (GSO), offer tuition discounts for university students (both parents) based on family income.

  • For families with a total income of less than $50,000: Tuition assistance funding
  • For families with a total income of less than $80,000: Sliding fee scale
  • For families 200% over poverty: Block Grant

Other child care centers in the area are also known to offer student discounts. Please inquire before enrolling your child.

Baby giraffe laying down.

Last but not least, please join our Grad Moms mailing list by filling out this form, and come hang out with other graduate student moms on campus. All disciplines are welcome!

Author: sbugwise

We are the Graduate Women in Science and Engineering group at Stony Brook University and we are dedicated to supporting women in STEM fields.

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