New mom Kristen Cuneo used several data points, such as every bottle feed, breastfeed and diaper change, to visualize exactly how much work new parents perform during parental leave.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 1, 2021. It has since been updated.
Kristen Cuneo, who works with a technology company in the San Francisco Bay area, was curious about how parents distribute the workload during paid parental leave. Therefore, she used data points from her own maternity leave to visualize her burden of care work. The data points included every bottle feed, breastfeeding and diaper change she completed in the first seven weeks after giving birth to her daughter, Autumn, in January 2021. Ever since her husband Michael DiBenigno posted her data visualization presentation on TikTok, it has helped dozens of other moms struggling with their own workloads. Cuneo's data chart provides a strong case for ensuring families have access to paid family leave, Good Morning America reports.
"Objectively, it's a lot, and every data point took time, ranging from five minutes for a diaper change to 30 minutes for a feeding, on average," the new mother stated in a conversation with her coworkers. "The real kicker is when it happens, 24 hours a day." When the data visualization chart was posted on TikTok by her husband, the co-founder of Flow Immersive, a California-based company that focuses on data storytelling, people were astonished. One person commented, "And that does not include laundry, bathing, well baby checkups, getting baby to sleep, fussy baby or the fact that baby needs to be held constantly." Another added, "All while recovering from a major medical procedure! Moms of newborns are absolutely amazing."
At present, there is no paid leave at the federal level in the United States. Recognizing this, one TikTok user urged, "This woman needs to be in front of Congress." According to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 27 percent of private industry workers currently have access to paid family leave. In this context, Cuneo shared that she felt privileged to have been able to take maternity leave. She also said that she was grateful that her presentation has helped so many new parents, especially moms, "feel so seen and heard."
"It is a shared experience, even though it is hard," she said of being a new parent. "The response that we've gotten has been completely mind-boggling, that so many people can have this experience, and yet something like this could resonate so powerfully for them whether or not they're currently raising a child or maybe they did 20 years ago." Cuneo and her husband were able to develop the presentation together using a baby habit-tracking app they started using when Autumn was a newborn.
DiBenigno stated, "We had heard over and over that being a new parent, you never sleep, but it's hard to understand what that really felt like. It wasn't until we saw the data points and put together this visualization that we were like, 'Wow, you see that continual, never-ending cycle of the mundane, routine labor of all these things that are just necessary.'" The information the couple has compiled is just more evidence of why the United States needs to introduce paid parental leave mandated at the federal level, particularly in the midst of an ongoing care crisis in the country.