30.10.2008 32 °C
It's mango season again! I love it! Harum manis is my favorite kind. Sweet and fragrant--very yummy! I could eat more than one mangos at once! If anyone is coming to Indonesia very soon, don't forget to taste it!
And my baby is coming soon. We asked the ob-gyn not to tell us the sex so it will be a surprise. Due date is 22 November. I'm going to see her/him soon! I'm so excited, and also kind of nervous of course, especially because it's my first experience.
Already on my maternity leave, and have been doing a lot of reading and discussion, joining class, mailing lists, all to prepare myself with knowledge about pregnancy, labor, breastfeeding, and babies. Everything is new and exciting, and I found them amazing. The more I learn, the more I am amazed. In the Breastfeeding Basics class we were shown a video of breastfeeding initiation/early lactation, where right after delivery and getting the umbilical cord cut, a newborn is put skin-to-skin on its mother's tummy; she rests for a while, then starts to lick her mother's skin, crawls up to her mom's chest (it can crawl!), massages her mom's breast, and finally breastfeed herself. And each activity in the process is not meaningless--each has its own benefit for the mother and baby. That's really amazing!
Challenges for working moms
What I'm concerned about is that here we don't have enough maternity leave, and no paternity leave except for merely 3 days which you can't call it a paternity leave. The regulation of maternity leave is: 1.5 month before the expected due date AND 1.5 month after the birth of the baby. If the baby is born before the expected due date, then the first 1.5 month leave is gone, and you only have the second half of 1.5 month leave left. So working women here have to start going to work again when the baby is only 1.5 month old. Some companies apply the regulation flexibly by allowing the female employees to start taking the leave very close to their due dates--but the closer to due date, the riskier it gets, and of course the company is not willing to take any responsibility if anything bad happens. Or if the employee starts having contractions while working!
So it's the regulation from the Ministry of Workforce. On the other hand, the Ministry of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age--as recommended by the WHO and UNICEF. But things are not well-coordinated between the two ministries. Maybe the president never know about this? Or never care? There is no maternity protection.
Working moms who want to give their babies exclusive breastfeeding is facing challenges. They must find a room to express their breastmilk in the office every few hours--and commonly no companies provide such a room. And not all companies have a fridge, so it's another challenge for the working mommies to store the expressed milk. So some have to depend on a colleague who has her own office, or some even have to express the milk in the restroom (a.k.a. toilet). And not all office buildings have toilets that are dry and cleaned up every few minutes. However, it's still a toilet. People won't express milk there unless they have no choice.
Baby/children day care is not common here, although I've seen one or two in Jakarta, but too far from my office (not to mention the traffic). Most people here depend on their family to take care of their babies/children (e.g. the grandmothers), or to nannies. But there are many 'instant nannies' here and many cases happened where the nannies do not do their job well. For example, a colleague changed nanny 5 times, where the last one she found out that the nanny left her baby to the neighbor everyday and she (the nanny) went out; a friend found the nanny not do anything seeing her child put a small object (gundu, a tiny glass ball used for games) into her mouth; a relative witnessed a nanny yelled at a kid at a mall rest room and threatens the kid to not tell her mom; and many other cases.
Many women quit their jobs after they have children. And many others stay--some because they still want to do it, and others because of financial reasons. What about me? I don't know yet. Right now I'm just concentrating on welcoming my baby and giving her/him the best I can After that I'll have to do the tough thinking on whether to leave her/him for work or stay home to make it easier to take care of her/him. Unfortunately, working from home is not yet common here.