Balancing Dual Roles in the Face of Missing On-Site Child Care Arrangements: Lived Experiences of Breast-Feeding Student Mothers at Kyambogo University

Dr Elizabeth Opit, Dr Nabukeera Madinah, Ms. Namubiru Aisha


Through the use of a phenomenological approach this study explored lived experiences of breast-feeding student mothers in the face of missing institutionalized on-campus child care arrangements at Kyambogo University (KyU). Specifically, the study sought to; identify the missing institutionalized on-campus child care arrangements at the university, establish the dilemmas breast feeding student mothers experience in undertaking the dual roles of mother and student hood due to the missing institutionalized on campus child care arrangements at KyU and examine the effect of the missing institutionalized on campus child care arrangements on undertaking of academic activities by breast-feeding student mothers. A total of 10 breast feeding student mothers were interviewed and data was analyzed using themes. Results indicated that the following institutionalized on-campus child care arrangements were missing at Kyambogo University; adequately furnished baby care rooms, baby playgrounds, immunization and pediatric medical services, professional nannies, child care responsive; teaching time tables, teaching sessions, time frames for course work assignments, tests and examinations’ undertakings, and child care responsive-remedial lessons. Dilemmas of breast feeding student mothers’ in this scenario included choosing between; baby-sitting vs attending lectures, completing a lecture vs breastfeeding a crying hungry baby, undertaking child bonding activities vs undertaking academic activities, completing an exam or a test vs breast feeding a crying hungry baby, baby care vs attending academic group discussion and baby care vs completing a coursework assignment in time. Student mothers at KyU have devised means of coping and have learnt how to resolve the tension of combining motherhood and education in an academic environment without on-campus childcare arrangements so as to pave a brighter career and family future. Such strategies included; receiving child care support from family and student friends, use of privately hired nannies, ignoring one of the two roles, time tabling the activities for the two roles, creating extra time to read, and getting help from spouses. The voices of the interviewees revealed that when the two roles were in conflict, they would rather miss academic activities than abandon their babies especially in critical times like when the babies were sick. It was therefore recommended that KyU considers putting in place various instututionalised on campus arrangements as a critical resource that will enhance academic undertakings of breast-feeding student mothers in their pursuit of Higher Education.

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