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Career women share thoughts on coping with work and child care

BY: Arku Jasmine

Julia has to return to work after three months of delivery. Her maternity leave has been exhausted. She is faced with a predicament as to what to do with her infant.

Most working mothers who find themselves in this state enrol their children in creche so that they can go back to work.

Although this has its own disadvantages, it has become the only way out for most women as they do not have anyone to leave their children at that tender age with.

Organisations do not help the situation as many workplaces do not have policies as to how to support these working mothers, so they do not have any nursery in place for their staff.

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This gap presently is being filled by many nursery schools in the country which have creches where they receive babies as young as six weeks. This has become a safe haven for many working mothers.

Experiences

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Naa Amakai, a Journalist, says it is traumatising when leaving your baby as young as five months in the care of others.

“You don’t know whether they are being given the best of care. I get worried anytime I have to leave my baby at the creche but I do not have other options,” says Naa Amakai.

“I wish there is a place in my office where we can have our babies then we can visit and breastfeed them during our breaks,” this she says would even make them more productive.

“If my child is here with me, I will not rush to go home when it is 3pm because what I am rushing home to is here with me,” she added.

“I always pray that the Good Lord would always take care of my child. She once got ear infection and runny stomach and it was a nightmare for us,” she says.

To Farida, a Media Consultant, it has not been easy, her baby started school when he was five months and he had to depend on expressed breast milk.

“I always have to make sure that he had enough feeding bottles and cot-sheets so that his things would not be re-used.

After doing exclusive breast milk for six months, Farida says introducing the formulas and home foods became another challenge as you have to study what the child likes and does not like.

Sometimes she has to stop on her way to work at least four times to breastfeed the child as he would cry if this is not done.

According to Baaba who works with an international organisation at East Legon, she had to enrol her child in school very early so that she could return to work.

It was not an easy task coming to that decision, but she said she had to do so because she did not have anyone to take care of the baby.

She, however, made sure that she closed very early from her workplace and picked her child from the creche.

Today, her child is a year and a half and she has forgotten all the hustle that she had to go through as a working mother.

Jokingly, she said she always tells her friends that her child is a PhD holder as he attends a creche within the enclave of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).

“My boy started school as early as five months,” says Doris, a banker.

“For the first month, together with her teachers we all struggled,” as he will not eat from the feeding bottle.

“He became so used to sucking from the breast that even when he is hungry he will not eat from any other source”.

According to Doris, his boy gave his teachers a tough time, he would cry whenever he is hungry and “insist at that tender age” that he is breastfed. The teachers, she said, tried all means but he would not take the food.

After struggling for a month, Doris said she took some days off to attend to her child.

Another Banker, Dzifa, knowing that she had to resume work, started expressing her breast milk a month ahead, labelled them by the dates and stored in her freezer.

According to her, when she started work, she started using the breast milk according to the dates and today she has excess milk even when she does not express.

From the creche at Cribs ‘N’ Sandbox Early Learning Centre, the proprietress, Mrs Lady Eileen Erskine, says she always advises working mothers who want to bring their babies to the centre to start them on the feeding bottles, as well as cups and spoons, so that it would be easy for the babies to adjust when they are left at the centre.

The centre, established in 2010, admits infants as young as six weeks and according to Mrs Erskine, getting the children to eat from the bottle at that tender age is a problem.

“It is challenging but with time the infants are able to learn how to suck on the bottle or from the spoon,” she said.

With its neat environment, Cribs N Sandbox presently has eight infants whose mothers have to go to work and therefore have to start school earlier than usual.

“We are happy of the service we offer to working mothers and we do it with a passion,” she said.

With an upcoming graduation on July 27, 2013, Mrs Erskine says they are very excited about this particular graduation because “we have children who we nurtured from five months and they are now four years and have to leave”.

Advice

Naa Amakai advised working mothers to always look out for the surroundings where they took their infants to.

According to her, because such children start school early they pick up infections from other children easily, a situation which, according to her, could have dire consequences on the children.

To Farida, it was about time managers of organisations introduced creches at the workplace, as, according to her, this would go a long way to increase the productivity levels of their companies or institutions.

By Rebecca Quiacoe-Duho/Ghana