Mothers of pre-term or sick babies must have more workplace support

Tina Makedenge
Tina Makedenge

Women’s conference backed UNISON’s call for more support in the workplace for women with premature or sick babies.

The Women’s Committee will campaign for additional paid leave for these mothers and will work to highlight the issue, including marking World Prematurity Day on 17 November.

Moving the motion, Tina Makedenge told delegates that a preterm birth can put an enormous strain on the family, particularly if the baby is seriously ill.

“However a woman giving birth to a premature baby that requires hospitalisation has the same amount of maternity leave as the mother of a baby that can go home right away.”

Tina went on to explain the stress of having to return to work leaving a baby either still in hospital or just returned home, with the implications that has for bonding and routines, and the emotional impact on the mum.

She called for sensitive communication from the employer at such times, taking account of the parent’s wishes.

Tina also spoke of her own experiences of having a premature baby who spent a month after her birth in the hospital. She was fortunate to have a lot of support at work and from her union, UNISON, but it was still very traumatic to have to work and leave her baby at home.

“Good support for parents at such difficult times can make a big difference,” said Tina, commending the work of organisations such as Bliss Scotland.

“For example the time between the birth and the baby returning home should be treated as paid compassionate leave, with maternity leave then starting,” urged Tina.

“We must raise awareness of preterm births and the concerns of their families.”

STUC Women’s Conference 2019 Home

Reports by UNISON Scotland Communications and Campaigns Committee from Kate Ramsden in Perth.