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Roanoke mother-to-be turns to crowdfunding to help with maternal leave

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Some working parents are turning to the Internet to help plan for their newborn's arrival.

Nicole Ritchie, who lives in Roanoke, is among a growing trend of parents-to-be turning to social media and crowdfunding.

Ritchie said she has mixed emotions about the birth of her first child.

"Both my husband and I were excited," said Ritchie. "For me the worry set in quicker than it did for him."

Like many others, the expecting mother worries about unexpected costs. Ritchie and her husband live in Virginia, but her parents and siblings live in other states.

"We have less help from family and friends," said Ritchie. "We also have that financial burden and it makes it really stressful."

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Ritchie works and her husband is a military recruiter. Once her son is born, she plans to use the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. The United Stated is the only developed country that does not mandate paid maternal leave. While her job is protected for up to 12 weeks, Ritchie said taking unpaid leave is a hard choice for any family to make.

"We used to live in a world where you could be a stay-at-home mom and you could live off just one income," said Ritchie. "Nowadays, you do have to have two jobs for one household."

Ritchie started a GoFundMe page to raise money for her own maternity leave. Since she created it on March 16, she has received $735 and is overwhelmed by the kindness of friends and strangers.

"Until we do get that paid maternity leave, there are other options out there that they can use to provide and help raise a family,"she said.

Ritchie is due in early July and wants to spend the first six weeks at home taking care of her newborn son, Hunter. She hopes the donations better prepare her growing family for any unexpected bumps along the way.