Gone are the days when women have to leave their jobs when they become mothers. Nowadays, having a hired nanny to take care of the baby or the kids is quite common. Women especially from affluent families or those who have prominent jobs often do this practice. Most of the time the dedicated nannies, maids and domestic helpers are quite an angel and a big help to the family. But sometimes we just don’t know how much trust we should put into a complete stranger to take care of our precious babies or kids. That’s exactly what happened in this story where a Singaporean mom was shocked to see her hired maid breastfeeding her baby! Read the story and comment if you think the mom overreacted or her actions were justified.
Disclaimer: The story featured is real as reported on The Asian Parent. Furthermore, the pictures used in the story are not of the real characters, but merely a representation. Credits to the rightful owners are duly given.
Joanna (not her real name) is a 30-year old lawyer in Singapore, and a first-time mother to her baby girl Emma. For the first four months after giving birth, Joanna tried to become a full-time mom, leaving her work and staying at home fully taking care of her newborn baby. She got entrenched into her tasks as a newborn mom, breastfeeding her baby, changing Emma’s diapers, enduring sleepless nights etc. 4 months into her motherhood, Joanna decided to hire Ayla (not her real name) a 24-year old Indonesian nanny from a reputable maid service agency. Joanna was able to get back to work and in the evenings come home and spend time with the baby. Since getting back to work has been a busy endeavor for Joanna, she no longer had the time to pump breastmilk or store it. At 6 months old, Emma is completely feeding through formula milk.
Joanna find Ayla as a very good and dedicated nanny. She has this to say about her service,
“The first month that Ayla had come into my home, my life got much easier. I was able to concentrate on work, and when I came home, it was 100 percent baby time. It felt wonderful coming back to a clean and happy place, and I felt more fulfilled as a mother with this arrangement.”
Joanna also feels sorry for Ayla because she had to leave her 2-year old son and her family in her hometown Batam, Indonesia to earn money and send remittances to them. Being a good employer though, and satisfied with Ayla’s work, Joanna gave her a good starting salary.
Joanna’s husband is away on business trips most of the time and communicates with her and Emma through Skype. As comfortable as they are with Ayla as a good caretaker for Emma, Joanna and her husband decided to install video cameras which can transmit the videos on their smartphones so they can check on Emma even if they are away. It is also a safety measure since there have been some stories of nannies abusing, hurting or doing horrific things to the children they look after.
Installing the video gave Joanna peace knowing that Emma is always safe with Ayla,
“Everyday from work, I would check the camera footage from my smartphone, at intervals, to monitor the activities at home. Mostly it showed Emma playing in her play-pen, and Ayla cleaning, or playing with her. Nothing out of the ordinary.”
But one afternoon as Joanna is looking at a video of Ayla and Emma she was shocked and horrified to see that Ayla was trying to breastfeed her baby!
“I couldn’t believe what I saw while at my lunch break. Ayla was seen offering her left breast to my child! Emma could be seen sucking for a couple of seconds, then refusing to continue. After a few minutes, she shifts Emma to her right breast. My heart literally stopped for a bit- I was infuriated and disgusted by her actions. Throughout the episode, Emma was moving away, resisting her breasts.”
The Worries of a Mother
Joanna was outraged and immediately drove home and reprimanded Ayla. She also made Ayla go through tests like HIV and Hepatitis B tests. Joanna’s fears are centered on the fact that women can transmit bacteria and viruses to babies through breastmilk and eventually transmit illness too.
Joanna is also concerned if Ayla still has breastmilk given that her son in Indonesia is already 2 years old. Was it a form of sexual abuse wherein Ayla used the suckling baby to fulfill a sexual need? Since Joanna believed that 7-month old Emma was reluctant to breastfeed from Ayla.
In Ayla’s Defense
The story did not feature the side of the nanny but she was kicked out from her service. The developments whether legal charges were filed against her are also not mentioned. Theoretically, it is recommended that women breastfeed babies up to two years and a woman can lactate for up to three years. There are also cases wherein women who are not pregnant nor lactating are able to produce milk. So is it possible Ayla still has breastmilk? Yes. Could Ayla be missing taking care of her son, or she is worried that Emma needs to be breastfed so she can become stronger? Maybe.
Joanna has a valid concern especially in disease transmission to her baby, and the fact that Ayla is still a stranger. It may also be a matter of cultural differences. Indeed it is hard to draw a line here or decide who is right, who is wrong? Was the action of the maid only misinterpreted? We leave it to you our dear readers to decide.
Write us comments what do you think of this controversy or your thoughts regarding parenting, hiring nannies and househelp, or anything related. Also don’t forget to share this to your friends.