First published in Waikato Times by Donna-Lee Biddle
A first-time mum says her fears of heading back to work were put to rest thanks to the “family-friendly” attitude of her boss and colleagues.
Navjot Kaur works as an interpreter co-ordinator at Decypher in Hamilton and returned to work six months ago, when her son, Tijas Singh, was three-months-old.
“I was afraid to come back to work because I thought I would have to choose bottle feeding instead of breast feeding because I work eight hours a day,” she said.
“But I talked to my manager and she said it was fine to pump [express milk] so I was pumping three-times a day.”
Kaur shares an office with other people but has a room set aside, where she can express milk discreetly.
“For me, I can’t see any big difference from when I was at home full time to being at work full time because I have so much support here,” she said.
“I am allowed to go home for my son’s Plunket appointments and medical appointments or when he needs me because the flexibility is there.
“I am blessed to have such great workmates.”
Decypher operations manager Ellie Wilkinson said the business has tried to develop an environment that is family-friendly.
“Everyone has families, that’s why you come to work. Sometimes it’s really difficult for mums, sometimes you need to tend to the needs of your children and we definitely want to encourage breastfeeding.
“In our office, it’s something that works for everybody.
“You want people to feel like they can relax and do their work as opposed to stressing about what’s happening at home.”
Wilkinson said this approach has been successful for the business.
“We don’t have any loss in production, work still gets done. Staff can approach you and they want to work, it’s good to have that environment.”
It is World Breastfeeding Week this week and Waikato DHB health promoter Jo Cottrell said the theme is breastfeeding and work.
“In New Zealand the law requires employers to support women to continue to breastfeed when they return to work, where practicable, like a discreet place where they can pump.
“It’s not sufficient for employers to say, we couldn’t manage that.”
Cottrell said it may not be easy for mothers to approach employees but she encourages women to do so.
“Women don’t have to give up breastfeeding, women expect to give up; that used to be the mantra but we’re changing that. It is also the responsibility of the employer to make that easy [and say] if you want to breastfeed then fine, we’ll make it work.”