Emerging Trend May Prevent A Tough Choice For New Moms

Millions of women every year dread returning to work at the end of their maternity leave. Daycare costs are soaring, and leaving the new baby in someone else’s care can bring feelings of stress, guilt, and anxiety to new parents.

And because the American economy leaves most families with no choice but to have two parents working outside the home, parents are faced with tough decisions about what is best for their little ones.

Now, a new trend is emerging that may bring relief to working moms – and while the benefits to mom and baby are obvious, employers are realizing the advantages as well.

Christian Science Monitorreported:

About 200 organizations and companies in the United States now have “infant at work” policy, according to the Parenting in the Workplace Institute.

Child care has emerged as an important issue for both employers and employees in recent decades. A study by the U.S. Department of Labor observed that, during that period,

“America has become a society in which everyone is expected to work – including women with young children. But many of society’s institutions were designed during an era of male breadwinners and female homemakers. What is needed is a … reform of the institutions and policies that govern the workplace to ensure that women can participate fully in the economy and that men and women have the time and resources to invest in their children.”

According American Health Public Association says 45 percent of the workforce is female, but 22 percent of women don’t return to work after their first baby is born.

The program attempts to address the current workplace mismatch by allowing for an easier transition back into work for the mother, according to the association.

States like Washington, Oregon, and Nevada have started pilot programs in state and local agencies, allowing women to bring their newborns to work with them daily until at least the age of six months.

Companies are seeing great benefit in providing this option to new moms.  Many women face the choice of family or career, but the number of women returning to work because they are able to bring their infants are increasing.

Employers have noticed a decrease in employee turnover, increased morale, and productivity, and decreased healthcare costs — due to a lower incidence of illness in infants covered on company policies who are exclusively breastfed during the first crucial months.

Christian Science Monitor continued:

“In a lot of ways it’s helped productivity,” Chris Madill, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission deputy director said. “Morale is high, and it’s been a good thing for our office.”

New mom Meesha Chang is one such woman who did not want to make a decision between a career she loves and giving her best to her baby.

Following the birth of her little girl, Chang began to search for employment in her field, with one condition – her infant daughter would be coming to the office with her.

Chang has become an advocate for implementation of these programs across the country.  While many employers offer work from home options in the digital age, many businesses still require hands-on work or frequent in-person meetings.

Chang is bringing the facts to prospective employers: many women end up leaving the workforce to care for their newborns and do not return.  Often, the cost of childcare is equal to or less than any income brought in by mom’s job.

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And even if a new mom does return to work eventually, balancing work, home, and family leads to burnout and loss of productivity in the workplace.

PopSugar reported on Chang’s comments:

“Part of why I am pushing for companies to accommodate babies at work is so that more parents have choices in the future,” she says. “We are told over and over that women can’t have it all, can’t be present parents and have a great career. This is not because it’s impossible; it’s because we don’t have systems in place to provide that life.”

“I think it opens people’s minds and makes them think backwards and forwards, reflecting back on their childhood and mother,” Chang says, “as well as envisioning what kind of workplaces will exist in the future.” One aspect of a mother-baby team she tries to emphasize to prospective employers is the symbiotic relationship between loving mother and industrious worker. “I feel my new skills as a mom are transferable,” she says. “Why not have the next step in my career path work with, rather than against, my new role and instincts?”

“I live by the philosophy ‘where there is a will, there is a way,'” she says. “And I want to be with Lucia as much as possible during this critical time. I am a better person because of her and with her.”

While the companies who offer this program are still few and far between, the invaluable skills that moms offer in the workplace are leading more employers to consider opening up options for women.

What are your thoughts on bringing baby to work?  Have you struggled emotionally and financially by having to balance work and baby?  Leave us your comments.