Making a difference for new TIGO Moms
versión español <aqui>
At Millicom, we aim to promote an environment where all people can succeed and feel they can contribute their best and be who they are. Women’s development and leadership are central to our own business performance and to economic prosperity everywhere. We know that organizations where women can thrive see their profitability and innovation all increase. However, the conditions to prevent women’s off-ramps and improve the on-ramps are not always there.
Melissa Martinez Benecke, Head of Special Projects and Communication at Fundacion TIGO in Guatemala, described the challenges she faced when returning to work after having her child Juan Diego in 2011. She said: "Returning to work after having a baby is a reality nowadays for most women. It's a very difficult time because you have to deal with hormonal changes, sentimental attachment to your baby, guilt, childcare arrangements, and on top of that you have to think about breastfeeding, which can be complicated if you don't have proper facilities at work."
In recent years, Millicom and TIGO have created suitable breastfeeding facilities - also known as Salas de Lactancia - in each of our main offices, in response to one of the many demands of being a mom.
In November 2017, around 20 mothers at TIGO Guatemala's head office were using theirs. By the end of the year, all main offices will have safe, clean, private rooms where moms can go to breastfeed in comfort.
Financial planner Ileana González, supply chain planner María Fernanda Martínez, and marketing assistant Merari Velásquez each spoke of the important part these facilities played in their experience of returning to work after having children.
Ileana, the mother of two beautiful kids (2.5 years and 9 months), said: "When I was preparing to receive my little girl, I was wondering if this time breastfeeding would be easier than the first time. In fact it wasn’t easier at all. There were two key differences the second time around: firstly, I corrected most of the mistakes I made with my first baby, and secondly, the opportunity to use facilities at my workplace that were specifically designed for breastfeeding made a huge difference. With my first child, I breastfed him for just about three months (during my maternity leave) because when I came back to work, we
didn’t have an appropriate space that was hygienic, comfortable, etc. to breastfeed; with my second baby, I had access to a beautiful, clean and well-equipped breastfeeding room, and there was a group of moms who were available to help and advise me whenever I needed.
"Because of the breastfeeding room, I was able to breastfeed my second child for a longer period; I was also able to better combine my work with my mother role and my baby girl’s health was reinforced with the best nutrition. For me it was not only a breastfeeding room, it was a much better motherhood experience, where support, cheering and advice is given to every new mom who returns to work, making these difficulties of being a working mom, really much easier.
Maria shared her experience as a TIGO mom, and said: "No matter what people tell you, there is nothing that can prepare you to deal with the intensity of becoming a mother. Welcoming Santiago into our lives has been the greatest gift but it does not come without a struggle. The long nights, short days, raging hormones and this little person depending on you to survive is a lot to take in, and it’s a whole new life in to which you throw yourself without having any idea how it’s really going to be.
"And then there’s breastfeeding… breastfeeding doesn’t come easily to everyone, especially in the first couple of months in which you are filled with doubts and insecurities. Santiago had to stay a few extra days in the hospital because of breathing difficulties so I had to pump for the first five days until he was able to breastfeed. Ten days after being born we took him home and it took us two days and a lactation consultant so we both could start to get the hang of it, get to know each other and begin the journey to a successful breastfeeding.
"Going back to work was something I was longing to do and at the same time I didn’t want to leave my baby. I got to spend almost 4 months completely dedicated to him and it’s a
time I’ll cherish forever. At the end, going back to work is just another thing we do for them and having the breastfeeding room in the office has given me the opportunity to continue giving my baby the best nutrition he can get.
"I feel very lucky and grateful because not every company takes an interest in providing this space for the new moms, and TIGO not only gives us this place, they’ve also made it very private, and a comfortable space where you can feel safe, knowing you are doing the best you can for your little one. And what’s best is that having this space has created a sense of community among other moms in which we can share our experiences, clear some doubts and know that we are not alone in this journey."
Merari's first child, a son named Jeremías Ezequiel, was born on 1 June 2016. She recalls: "From the beginning I was very drawn to exclusively breastfeeding my baby.
"I never felt it was going to be difficult to make it, and thanks to the Breastfeeding room provided by TIGO, I’ve managed to organize my time, and be more productive. This benefit is something I appreciate and will always be thankful with TIGO for making it available to us."
There are of course other factors besides having children that pull women away from their jobs, including for example, caring for elderly parents and personal health issues, but the decision to continue with breastfeeding after going back to work, is something that only women are faced with, and at Millicom we’re proud of supporting such natural process.