Abu Dhabi, UAE: Experts have backed calls to increase the number of workplace creches, stressing its benefits for mothers and children.
Dr Azhar Abu Ali, a clinical psychologist at Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Centre in Dubai Healthcare City, said creches made it easier for mothers to return to work.
"Working mothers who return to work within the first year of their child’s life may experience difficulties in separating from the child, as they may be confronted with conflicting emotions such as guilt and anxiety in relation to their child’s well-being," said Dr Ali.
"Having an accessible nursery, and allocated periods during the work day in which they can see their child and engage in activities such as breastfeeding and play, will foster a healthy and secure attachment that will alleviate any emotional distress mother and child may be experiencing."
She said this led to "minimal disruption to the developing bond between the child and their primary caregivers, thereby decreasing overall psychological distress and disrupted attachments".
Workplace nurseries can also have cognitive, psychological and socio-emotional benefits for early childhood development, she said, and help mothers to improve their work-life balance.
"If a working mother is able to see and communicate with her infant or young child during the day, this will likely promote her wellbeing and in turn increase her work productivity," Dr Ali said.
Dr Rima Sabban, a sociologist at Zayed University in Dubai, agreed.
"This is something so important to have in the public and private sector," Dr Sabban said. "All women that work deserve to have support in nursing their children."
She said having their mothers nearby was especially good for babies.
"It also helps the bonding of the child with the mothers," Dr Sabban said. "It is about time that we had quality daycare at the workplace. That would be a dream for Emiratis and non-Emiratis."
The mother of two said that when she worked in the US, her employer provided daycare that gave her enormous relief and helped with her child’s development.
Dr Sabban said creches were important for a working mother’s dedication to her work and level of professionalism.
"This will help women to continue to work," she said.
© The NationalMar 2014