Abu Dhabi midwife lucky to have flexible hours but deals with many women don’t

Sarah Rosbrook says that life is so expensive in that UAE that, for most couples, both have to work to make ends meet.

ABU DHABI // Midwife Sarah Rosbrook encounters many mothers who have had problems finding part-time work.

She should know, because she was once in the same position.

Before Mrs Rosbrook moved to Abu Dhabi with her husband, the Irishwoman had a job lined up at a hospital in the capital helping care for mothers-to-be.

By the time she came to move, Mrs Rosbrook was 22 weeks pregnant. She quickly found the 45-day maternity leave and the full-time hours she would be expected to do when she began would not suit, and the hospital said it could not offer part-time work.

“The hours I just could not do,” she said. “The hours were not family friendly. Other private hospitals were 45-hour weeks.

“They all want expat midwives working for them, but none were prepared to take any part time.”

Mrs Rosbrook has, however, found flexible working hours after helping to set up BHC (Berlin Health Company) At Home Midwifery Services. She provides part-time antenatal care, often in the mothers’ homes.

While she works up to eight hours a day, Mrs Rosbrook gets to organise her work schedule around caring for her one-year-old. Working in a hospital setting would not have provided that flexibility, she said.

While Mrs Rosbrook said her new job afforded her a work-life balance, many mothers she meets are not as fortunate.

“A lot of my clients are teachers and they have to go back after 45 days, and there is no flexibility,” she said.

Either they go back full time or not at all, she said.

“As soon as you have had your baby here you are discharged,” she said. “From my experience with my clients, a lot of them will leave their job. It is hard, especially if you are breastfeeding.

“I would love to see for women that they would open up a lot more part-time work.”

She felt many companies feared that “once they do it for one, they will have to do for all” – and that sort of mindset puts employers off being flexible.

“But, financially, living here is really expensive,” she said. “For most, both parents need to work.”