Li Yufen spoke with Li Hongyang.
Li Yufen, 51, teaches maternity matrons in Changchun, Jilin province
I began working as an agency-based maternity matron in 2008. I retired from frontline work in 2017 and became a lecturer, passing on my skills and experiences to the agency"s employees.
The most important thing maternity matrons can offer is love and responsibility for mothers and their babies. Without those qualities, no one can do the job for long because people can tell if you genuinely care about their babies.
I used to work for each family for 20 days, which meant my contact with the babies ended as soon as the mother recovered from maternity confinement.
I was with each baby from the moment they were born. Their every smile and cry touched my heart, and it was amazing to see them grow day by day. It was really heartbreaking to think I would probably never see them again－it felt like giving away my own baby.
Babies are sensitive and they understand everything, sometimes far beyond our knowledge. When I left, they realized I wasn"t there anymore.
Sometimes I felt lonely during Spring Festival when I could not return home, especially when the family had its reunion dinner and I needed to look after the baby.
Apart from those things, there was nothing to worry or complain about. However, friends told me about their experiences, some of which were very hard.
One said the employer never allowed her to dine at their table; instead she had to eat in the kitchen. Another said the family set up a camera in her room to monitor her actions 24 hours a day, meaning she was forced to change her clothes in the bathroom.
I"m not worried about those things, though. For me, the most important thing is to earn a decent salary. I have a big heart and am pretty broadminded, so I"ve never regarded an employer as a bad person.
Overall, I think it"s a good job. I like kids because they are cute and innocent, while the salary is good for someone like me whose education ended after middle school. I could earn an average 13,000 yuan ($1,920) a month. The best part was that when the family traveled, I sometimes went with them. Over the years, I"ve been to places such as Thailand and Malaysia.
Being a maternity matron is a career where it is worth making an effort. Now, my main message to my students is that they should be equally responsible with every family, and not to worry too much about any negative aspects of the work.
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