Balancing Motherhood and Work
Motherhood is never an easy task. From the 9 months of carrying a baby to the tremendous task of giving birth to breastfeeding and taking care of the newly born, it is something that is quite amazing and extraordinary.
Balancing motherhood and work life is a task that is difficult on its own due to many ways. While the Ethiopian Civil code allocates 30 days leave with pay prior to a mother giving birth and 90 days after birth, it is challenging for a mother to return to work while she is still breastfeeding. Under difficult circumstances, mothers are normally on the road back and forth to their babies during their break time so that their newly born can get the necessary nutrients required. These trips often create implications on mother’s work performance and results in mothers being held back in their career developments.
Mothers need to be comfortable, confident, and supported as they return from maternity leave. Allowing them the time and space they need to pump eases a difficult transition and makes for happier employees and coworkers.
A Simple Solution
Having noticed these challenges, the Gender Committee (GC) of the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) designed an initiative to launch a Mother’s room at the ATA. The Mothers’ Room will allow nursing mothers a private space to pump breast milk, store it safely, and then take their milk home to their babies.
The room is located at the annex office of the main ATA office in Addis Ababa and has comfortable chairs for mothers to rest, an electrical outlet, curtains and frosted stickers for privacy, a table, a cabinet for placing bags and other materials and most importantly a refrigerator. The room was designed in a way to create a relaxing atmosphere for mothers to enable them to take a rest.
With the first room now functional there are plans to open similar rooms in each regional offices as well. The GC is now in the process of finalizing steps that will take the initiatives to the regional level.
Studies have proven breast milk helps build a baby’s immune system and overall health. Allowing a new mother scheduled breaks during the day to pump can prevent her unexpectedly missing work in the future to take care of a sick child. Moreover, it makes moms happy. It is no secret that happy employees are healthier, more productive, and more likely to be invested in their work.