Eight weeks after her fifth child, Michael Araujo, 34, dropped her off at a day care center run by the city of Sওo Paulo so she could work. She is a nanny in the Morumbi area.
Mainly responsible for the upbringing of her five children, she could not wait to return to work when her youngest, Elo, was four months old. Like Michael, thousands of mothers in the capital, Sao Paulo, have been forced to separate from their children at an earlier age because of the country’s economic crisis.
The growth of the informal job market removes the right to 120 days of maternity leave in these mothers’ countries. Without any income, and most of the time without the financial support of the children’s parents, day care is the only option to continue supporting their family.
In the last week of April, 3,741 children under the age of four were registered at the city’s municipal network day care center. Of these, 63 are under 30 days of age and 539 are under 60 days of age, a stage described by experts as an “external pregnancy” that still involves changes in the external world of the mother’s body.
The number of children up to two months of age in the day-care center this year is almost double that of the same month last year, when 325 people of this age were enrolled. Before the epidemic, when there were 26 children of that age, it was still 23 times higher than in April 2019.
“Of all my kids, he was the youngest to go to day care. My heart was in my hand to leave him, it felt like he was leaving a small piece of me there. But there’s no way around it, the situation is very difficult. Five children at home.” “, Said the mother. He only receives a pension from the father of the eldest child, but not from Elo’s father.
“Everything is getting more and more expensive. I’ve already cut off almost everything from the market, meat, fruits, vegetables, even adult milk. My breast milk was not enough for Elo. The formula,” he said. He still tries to continue breastfeeding at night when he is at home with his daughter.
Even before the epidemic, enrollment of children under four months of age on the municipal network increased, but this year the growth has been even more intense. The numbers change every day.
At just 19 days old, Helena is one of the youngest registered on the network. He began joining CEI Carolina Maria de Jesus at Novo Mundo in North Zone Park on the 2nd, as his mother, Pamela Alves de Susa, 23, had to return to work as a day laborer.
“I work without a formal contract, so I knew I would not be entitled to maternity leave. I worked for eight months of pregnancy and then I couldn’t do it anymore. Now I have to go back because the situation is tight,” she says.
In addition to the baby, Pamela lives with her husband, who is a car wash, and their five-year-old son. “It’s hard to do with what my husband earns, because half of it goes to rent. It’s been difficult to pay the market because I haven’t had a job in the last two months,” she says.
“It’s hard to leave such a small child in day care, but he will adapt and it will be better for us. It will be better for him.”
For Fernando Padula, the municipal secretary of education, the growth of young children enrolled in day care centers is a reflection of the country’s financial crisis. “The reality we are facing is that 53% of the elementary early childhood education in the municipality is in Kadiniko, meaning they live in poverty or extreme poverty.”
According to him, vacancies for children at any time of the year are only possible because the City Hall of Sao Paulo has been able to eliminate the waiting list for a place in day care.
Cei (Children’s Education Center) in Bella Vista, in the central region, three-month-old Breno in a house with the youngest 21 children up to one year of age. “Teachers call her a small package because she’s the youngest in the class,” said mother Tatiana Concisao, 34.
While some children are crawling and others are rehearsing their first steps, there are three teachers lying on the lap in the brain room.
Prior to joining Day Care, Brenno was exclusively breastfed, but now he is only on formula. The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends exclusive breastfeeding until the age of six months.
“I even tried to continue breastfeeding at home, but during the day when I was away from her my breasts hurt a lot. The milk froze, boiled and even froze. How could I do that?” , Tatiana asks.
According to the Municipal Department of Education, all day care centers in the city are based on encouraging breastfeeding and mothers need to create an environment for breastfeeding their babies.
Architect Monica Alves, 28, left her three-month-old daughter, Claris, in Cei Benedito Bueno, in the northern Jardim Palestine region, to return to work. Since he is at the home office, he manages to get the girl to the unit at midnight to breastfeed.
“She didn’t take the bottle at all. The teachers called me in the middle of the night and I went there to breastfeed her. That way it got better, because I could work and I knew she was being taken care of,” he said.
Mariana Luz, CEO of the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation, an organization that works for better policy for childhood, says it is important to guarantee a place in day care for such young children in the context in which families live.
“Guaranteeing a place with a mother for a one or two month old baby in this risky situation is a guarantee of survival. We as a society need to understand the best place for this baby to live in this context, but it is not enough. Only the quality of the place is needed.”
For her, part of the job should be to provide support and conditions for mothers so that babies can continue to breastfeed even after being in day care.
“Breastfeeding is important to strengthen the baby’s immune system. Every mother’s breast milk has essential and specific characteristics for every baby. And the moment the baby forms a bond, it is important for their cognitive and social emotions,” she said.
For economist Cecilia Machado, FGV professor and columnist Sheet, There is a duality of informal market growth in the country. If, on the one hand, it allows mothers to enter the work, on the other hand, it does not guarantee their basic labor rights like maternity leave.
“At least Sao Paulo has developed a very important public policy, which is to offer a place in day care so that these mothers can return to work, which unfortunately does not happen in most municipalities. Having an income also provides conditions for them. Child development”, it says. .