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Maternity leave in HK and importance of baby bonding in the first few months...

  1. #1
    project pea is offline Registered User
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    Maternity leave in HK and importance of baby bonding in the first few months...

    I have to say that ML in HK sucks a bit... The company I'm with only allows for 2 months, whilst if I was still in the UK, I'd get at least 6 months with the option of unpaid of up to 1 year...

    I'm thinking of negotiating with the company to see if I can get another month or so unpaid leave then returning back to work on a half-time basis working 3 days a week. Bonding with the baby in the first few months I've heard is of most importance and I guess I don't want to miss out on any milestones! Is this reasonable or am I being just picky as most women here just have their 2 months and then they're back at work straight away with no fuss...

  2. #2
    lesliefu is offline Registered User
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    it's 10weeks in HK - 2 weeks before and 8 weeks after...thus the 2months. i was working full time when i had both 1st and 2nd...now with 3 kids i'm a SAHM. can't really compare what other countries do since you're stuck here in HK and employers are working with the HK law. seems a bit unfair but unfortunately it's something you'll have to live with. if you really feel strongly about it perhaps you could take up your "annual leave" and as many days of "unpaid leave" they will give you. not sure what you do, but will working 3 days a week be feasible? i have a friend who's company was very good and they allowed her to work from home for the first couple months, AFTER her maternity leave (she was managerial level and her boss absolutely adored her).

    if you're worrying about milestones...i wont worry too much - there are plenty of milestones as they grow up...you might miss the "first" time they walk, but you know, you will see them walk and see them "trying" to walk when you are with them after work. it's hard, i do agree, going back to work after just having a baby but as long as your baby is in good hands, you really have nothing to worry about. sorry don't know if this is of much help...

  3. #3
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Well...your question is really up for debate.

    Most local HK people I know would look at you and say, "So you get eight weeks of maternity leave? So what? That's normal. That's life." Some people would feel that it's unfair for you to get leave at all because your job as an employee is to serve the company first. Some bosses really do seem to hold this view.

    Comparing the system in the UK with the system in HK is like comparing apples and oranges most of the time. I personally definitely prefer a better "work-life" balance than what most jobs in HK offer. I think if local HK people were to experience that type of standard it might open the floodgates of demands for "better treatment" when comes to things like maternity (and paternity) leave but most have no real concept of such things--very foreign idea.

    The fact that you seem to have the option to actually negotiate with your company is pretty profound, I think. Most people I know (myself included) would never have this option. The government in Hong Kong sets the standard minimum maternity leave--it's legislated--not decided by individual company. So, government employees get a total of 12 weeks maternity leave (but the general law is a minimum of 10 weeks) but as you have to take off no less than two weeks before your due date, that maternity leave is about 10 weeks. If your employer is only giving you 8 weeks then they are breaking the law. You are entitled to 10 weeks minimum.

    I went back to work the day my daughter turned 8-weeks-old. Despite this, I didn't find we had any issues with bonding or me really missing milestones. On the other hand, I don't work 12-hour long days, 6 days/week generally (as many of my friends do). I live close to where I work and my helper brings my daughter to work and I breastfeed her on my lunch break. I think breastfeeding has helped me a lot with the bonding experience with my second child--and the fact she's my second child so I was better prepared to cope with the initial stages of infancy with her.

    But, now might be a time to really soul-search and evaluate what your priorities are. Maybe have a few "Plan B"s up your sleeve so if you do find that your current employment doesn't work after having children you have some other options. Some women return to work and find that they don't like it and prefer to be at home full-time with their babies and find a way to make that happen--or otherwise find part-time work that allows them more time with their children. Most employers I've heard of (especially local companies or in the law and finance sector) don't have much leeway or flexibility when it comes to mothers in the workplace so you either make your job your number one priority or you look for another place or sector to work in. There are other threads on this forum where women discuss their work choices and compromises after having children--including decisions to switch careers in order to allot more time to their babies.

    It's all up to what you feel is a priority. It's not likely the current system in HK ("the rat race") is going to change anytime soon--that's why us creative mamas have to adapt. :)
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  4. #4
    peainpod is offline Registered User
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    I think it's different for everyone. I remember shortly after the time I had my son, a coworker (local) had twins. I saw her back at work within a month of having her babies and she told me she voluntarily cut short her mat leave because she found it hard to cope and she preferred to be at work!

    I had the exact opposite problem where I missed my son so much that I negotiated Fridays off with my boss, and when that wasn't enough, ended up quitting my job. Luckily my company offered me a part-time position in a different department where it is possible to job-share so now I work 16 hours a week (spread over 2-1/2 days).

    What I'd like to say is that the workplace environment in HK is not always as rigid as one might think. I'm not saying part-time is always possible and it does depend on the industry, but it doesn't hurt to sit down with your boss and discuss options.

  5. #5
    project pea is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for the comments... I would also like to add do most HK mothers breastfeed? Surely if they did then they would under normal circumstances only be able to for 2 months or maybe a little longer after that if breast milk is being pumped and frozen?

  6. #6
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by project pea View Post
    Thanks for the comments... I would also like to add do most HK mothers breastfeed? Surely if they did then they would under normal circumstances only be able to for 2 months or maybe a little longer after that if breast milk is being pumped and frozen?
    No. Most local HK mothers do not breastfeed long-term. There are no laws or official allowances for pumping breastmilk in HK. Some employers forbid it in the office so women need to go to the toilet to pump milk and there are plenty of employers that will not allow the milk to be stored in the company refrigerator as they consider this "unsanitary" (have heard this over and over from people who tried to do that at work).

    But, of course the women who DO breastfeed long-term are able to do so even if they return to work earlier. I know plenty of women (mostly expats) who pump breastmilk at work and then their baby drinks that the next day when they're away at work. I pumped until my daughter was about 7-months-old. I pumped 2-3 times/day and my daughter also breastfed on my lunchbreak. Totally do-able. It's not as if breastfeeding mothers who work just fill their entire freezer up with frozen breastmilk and then stop pumping--that's not how it works. You have to keep pumping to keep the supply up.

    But, it's too inconvenient for most women who are working long days in a office that doesn't have supportive breastfeeding policies. Many women become discouraged and give up (especially if they're shamed in front of other staff for storing their "unsanitary breastmilk" in the company fridge--know of one lady who had this experience and immediately stopped breastfeeding) and if they run into any setbacks (and those are common in the early days of breastfeeding) it's just too much--coupled with pressure from family members to turn to formula which is erroneously thought by many locals to be a more 'complete food' for babies than breastmilk (thanks to heavy marketing of formula on TV and print in the city).
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  7. #7
    peainpod is offline Registered User
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    As I returned to work immediately after 8 weeks of mat leave and continued working until bubs turned one, I did end up pumping at work for most of it. (I breastfed my son until he was almost 14 months, altho by then, it was just once a day at bedtime.)

    I was lucky that I had my own office and my company even installed special blinds for the glass wall facing the hallway. I only pumped during work as I wanted to keep my milk supply up so I breastfed anytime I was home (mornings, evenings, middle of the night feeds).

  8. #8
    peainpod is offline Registered User
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    If you are returning to work, you may want to start stocking up extra milk in your freezer a month or do before returning to work. It's not easy, esp if you don't have too much milk, and I remember doing it half a bottle at a time (whenever bubs slept through a feed, sometimes after a feed if he didnt empty both breasts etc.) I never gave formula, so it literally had to be what he didn't consume!

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