The Dilemma of a Pregnant Nanny
You have finally found a reliable, kind, skilled Nanny. The kids love her, your household is running like a well-oiled machine and you have come to depend fully on her as your right-hand woman. Then you find out she is pregnant!
If you lived in Singapore, you would have to report her to the government for getting pregnant. In many cases, the Ministry of Manpower would deport her and ban the pregnant nanny from re-entering the country.
Here in Kenya such measures would likely be considered shockingly punitive.
Regardless of where you live, the news that the Nanny is now pregnant would feel like a rug has been pulled out from under your feet.
But scratch beneath the surface and you will realize that most women (Nannies included) want motherhood as much (if not more) than you do. So it was with this refreshed perspective that Angela, a 38 Mother of three, received this news from her Nanny of nine years.
“My first ever Nanny joined us at the birth of my firstborn. I was 26 at the time. The Nanny was a blood relative from the village. She was 18 and naive. She had only worked for a year. Her falling pregnant felt like a failure on my part. I was disappointed in her and in myself for letting it happen under my roof,” says Angela.
Angela fired her Pregnant Nanny days after the news.
“It was a blind reaction to my emotions,” she admits. “I called her mother and told her I am sending her pregnant daughter back home to her. I took her to the bus stage and sat her in one. But she never got home. I heard she went to live with the father of her child. I don’t know what became of her since.”
Looking back, Angela realizes her reaction was unwise. The Nanny she got soon after has been with the family since. Angela says she was more mature than the first.
This Nanny has been pregnant twice in her years of service.
“The first time she fell pregnant, I got someone to replace her. But we agreed that she would return to work for me as soon as she was able to,” says Angela. Her Nanny returned three months after giving birth. The second time she fell pregnant, Angela once again entered into a return-to-work agreement with her. And she topped it up with paid maternity leave of three months. “It was an expression of my loyalty and gratitude to her,” she says.
Two other mums we spoke to said they usually dismiss a pregnant Nanny with no arrangements for resuming work nor for paid maternity leave. I asked another mum if she would allow her Nanny to return to work with her breast-feeding baby. No, she said laughing. “That would be asking for too much of me.”
The good thing is that more employers are encouraging their Nannies to continue to work for them even after childbirth.
One mother recently posted on a Kenyan Facebook group that she was looking for a breast pump for her Nanny. Such efforts to enable Nannies who have returned from maternity leave to continue on EBF are highly commendable. Logically, in such cases, the Nanny would likely commute as a day-bug.
We spoke to the folks over at Aunty Ann Agency, a company that trains and recruits Nannies:
“We recommend a reliever for the pregnant Nanny. She will show her [the reliever] how things are done in that home before she breaks for maternity leave,” they said.
What about the decision on whether to retain her after birth or not? “That depends fully on the owner of the home.” In their opinion, there is no need to include a pregnancy clause in the contract of service.
We often get used to our Nannies because they work for us, live with us and are part and parcel of our families. Yet, they are human beings, with their own goals, their own dreams and their own families to care for.
It is wise to give thought to potential scenarios, in order to plan ahead for the best contingency. Employers who provide medical care, maternity leave and make arrangements to retain their Nannies even after childbirth are usually rewarded with loyal, dependable and appreciative workers. This practise also discourages Househelps from feeling like abortion is their only option when they conceive.