Impact of parental leave: Life and work stories

Impacto da licença parental: Histórias de vida e trabalho
Image: Canva

Maternity and paternity leave are fundamental periods in the life of any family, especially for the baby's development and the parents' well-being. Let's learn about the stories of Camila, Muriel and Bonfim, who show how crucial it is to have a welcoming and empathetic work environment.

Camila's journey: Challenges and support

Motherhood is a transformative and challenging period in any woman's life. For Camila, coordinator of the after-sales department, this journey was marked by significant changes, both personal and professional. During her pregnancy, she experienced the pandemic, which allowed her to work longer from home, ensuring greater security and peace of mind.

Camila Pires with her daughter, Marcela

She mentions that, during her pregnancy, she received valuable advice from Muriel, manager of the Soft Oils unit, who is also a mother. “I spoke to Muriel, who encouraged me to make the most of my time at home with my daughter when she was born. She helped me understand the importance of this period for both of us”, recalls Camila.

This period of greater security and tranquility was essential during pregnancy, as was the extended leave, but returning to work was still complex. Camila says how the support of her colleagues was fundamental, especially in the first weeks after returning to work, when she was still adjusting her routine.

“I've always been very organized, but motherhood taught me about flexibility and being kind to myself. Knowing that I had an empathetic team made all the difference”, says Camila. The benefit of six months of maternity leave that Aboissa offers was crucial for Camila, as it allowed her to be present during her daughter's introduction to food, a challenging and vital phase for the baby's development.

Camila also highlights how the company's continuous support was essential for her adaptation and well-being. “Aboissa continued to pay me equally and I still had support, as I always spoke to the staff, they asked how I was and if everything was ok. This support was essential for me”, he says.

Camila explains that, in addition to the maternity leave period, the flexibility offered when returning to work was essential. “The possibility of working from home until the child’s third year makes all the difference. This allowed me to find a balance between professional and personal life, something that many mothers do not have the opportunity to do”, she highlights.

She mentions that the flexibility of working from home was a big advantage. “Working from home allowed me to be present at important moments in Marcela’s life. I was able to follow her development closely, see her first steps and be there when she needed me. This balance between work and motherhood was crucial to my happiness and professional performance”, says Camila.

Returning to work, although challenging, was made easier by the welcoming and understanding environment he found. “My internal demands have always existed, but after pregnancy, they became even more intense. I was worried about whether I was being seen in a good light, because sometimes you need to leave early or arrive later, as unforeseen events happen, especially when the child is small and you can't handle everything. When I went back to work, I was a little forgotten”, she admits.

However, Camila felt unconditional support from her colleagues and the board. “From the board of directors to the people who worked directly with me, I didn’t feel any pressure, but a lot of help. So, it was more of a thing in my head and more of a demand on me than on the environment. Motherhood is wonderful and it's crazy love, but it's challenging because you need to be well prepared. The child is unpredictable. From the moment you become a mother, you realize that you have no control over anything!”, she reflects.

For Camila, the experience of returning to work after motherhood was challenging, but full of learning and growth. “Having a work environment that supports me and understands my needs made all the difference. I’m grateful for that”, he concludes.

Muriel: Flexibility and empathy

Muriel, Soft Oils unit manager, shares her experiences with motherhood and how she found support and flexibility at work. With two distinct experiences, Muriel highlights the importance of a welcoming and understanding environment for working mothers.

Muriel Aboissa with her children, Giulia and Liam

When Muriel had her first child, Liam, she decided to return to work after five months off. “It was challenging for someone as planned as me. I had to learn to be flexible and kind to myself”, she recalls. Returning to work brought many difficulties in reorganizing his routine. “There are days when the mother doesn't sleep, days when your child wakes up sick and you need to make your entire schedule more flexible. Managing your professional and personal life is very difficult when you are a mother.”

Muriel faced both personal and professional frustrations. “My team, which was already used to dealing with me, had to deal with delays and meetings canceled at the last minute. It was difficult for everyone,” she says.

With her second daughter, Giulia, Muriel decided to return to work at the same time, but chose to work part-time. “This decision provided the necessary flexibility to deal with the demands of motherhood and work”, she explains. Working from 11am to 5pm, she is able to fulfill her professional responsibilities while caring for her daughter at home.

Muriel highlights the importance of a work environment that supports breastfeeding. “We created a lactation in the office, a comfortable and private space for mothers to express milk. This is essential for the well-being of those who breastfeed”, he states. Breastfeeding is an exhausting and crucial process, and the lactation provides everything necessary for the well-being of mothers, who can express milk and care for their babies properly.

"A Brazilian Association of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding until six months of age. A mother can breastfeed between 10 and 24 times a day, burning an average of 3,000 calories a day. This is tiring and demands a lot of energy”, explains Muriel. After six months, the introduction of food is gradual, and breastfeeding continues to be a significant part of the baby's nutrition until 12 months.

The creation of the lactation in the new office was an important milestone. “This space was carefully designed to provide comfort and privacy. It's a place where mothers can relax, knowing they are in a safe and nurturing environment. Breastfeeding or expressing milk is an intimate and often lonely moment, and having a dedicated space makes all the difference”, says Muriel.

Muriel also emphasizes the importance of having women in leadership, especially mothers, who understand the specific difficulties and needs that other mothers face. “Before I became a mother, I didn't fully understand the difficulties other mothers face at work. The experience of motherhood brought a new perspective and empathy, something that is valued and encouraged here”, she comments.

She emphasizes that a culture of understanding and support should not just be a company policy, but a reality experienced daily. “I have friends at other companies who don't have this flexibility and ended up giving up breastfeeding due to exhaustion and lack of support. We are privileged to understand how important this is at Aboissa.”

Bonfim: The importance of paternal support

Lucas Bonfim, an intern in the financial sector, had two remarkable experiences that show the importance of paternity leave and support in the workplace. The arrival of her two daughters, at different times in her life, revealed how empathy and flexibility at work are crucial to family well-being.

Lucas Bonfim and his daughters, Mariana (youngest) and Manuela (eldest daughter)

Bonfim remembers that, when he had his first daughter in 2020, he didn't know he was entitled to paternity leave. “I found out by searching on Google. At the time, it was only three days, which is insufficient to support the mother and the newborn. These days barely covered the time of giving birth and returning home,” she says.

He describes how he had to return to work at the hospital quickly, leaving his wife and daughter with the help of his grandmothers. “My mother and mother-in-law helped a lot, but I felt like I was missing important moments in Manuela’s life and I couldn’t give my wife the necessary support.”
The situation changed completely with the arrival of his second daughter, Mariana. Already working at Aboissa, the company recognized the importance of greater support and offered Lucas not only the legal five days, but also an entire month of home office. “Our executive director, Ariane, was very empathetic. She understood that five days were not enough and proposed this arrangement that made all the difference.”

Bonfim emotionally describes how this decision impacted his life. “I was able to accompany my wife to frequent medical appointments and be present during her birth, which had complications. My daughter had to stay in the ICU for one night, and being there made all the difference to my wife’s recovery and our daughter’s well-being.”

He highlights that this flexibility allowed him to actively participate in the first moments of his daughter's life, helping with daily tasks and providing continuous support to his wife. “Being able to be there and help my wife care for our newborn daughter and our eldest daughter was crucial. This support also ensured that I could focus on work without compromising my presence at home.”

Bonfim mentions that the company's support did not negatively impact his benefits, ensuring the necessary financial security during this period. “They kept all my benefits, except the transportation voucher, which was not necessary. This gave me peace of mind to focus on my family without worrying about bills.”

He also highlights how a culture of empathy and understanding in the workplace made all the difference. “During the month of working from home, I always had the necessary flexibility to adjust my routine according to my family’s needs. This showed that the company really values the well-being of its employees.”

Bonfim reflects on how these experiences shaped his view of the importance of paternity leave and support at work. “The support I received allowed me to be present and active in the first moments of my daughters' lives, something I value immensely. These moments are unique and irreplaceable.”

He expresses his gratitude for the support received. “I am very grateful to my team and management for their understanding and empathy. They showed that it’s not just about numbers and results, but about taking care of people and their families.”

Comprehensive and humanized support

The stories of Camila, Muriel and Bonfim show the importance of valuing employees and offering an inclusive and welcoming work environment. Humanized practices, which go beyond legal obligations, are essential to support parents during these significant moments in their lives.

These stories remind us that it is possible to balance business demands with empathy and respect for employees. The well-being of families directly reflects on satisfaction and productivity at work, creating an environment where everyone can prosper.

By Vanessa Ferreira

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