Career, parenthood or both?

Juggling a career and parenthood is not always smooth sailing. 2nd Officer, Karen Sampaio offered to share her experience on how she made it possible.

“Back in 2018, during the  merger, I found out I was pregnant and had no plans. Along with the surprise came uncertainty about my position in the company and my career. At that point I was concerned that it could be the end of my time at sea as if I had no choice. With the support I received from my family and friends I was able to rise above the doubts and I had started to see the changes to come in my life in a more positive way. As a mother and seafarer, I decided to carry on working to support my daughter, Luna, in a way that she`d have a model to look up to. Ever since I’ve been very happy and fulfilled in the family and professional aspect.

After her birth I gathered my family and with help of Psychologist we talked about the challenge that we were about to face and we’ve set in motion little strategies to ease the process of me getting back on board without causing any sort of suffering on my little one.

When I received the call from the company to board, it was a mixture of joy and many doubts: Was I making the right decision? Was I abandoning Luna (as I’ve heard from many people)? Would she still see me as a mother? Would she suffer from my absence?

The possibility to keep in touch through the internet really helped us to stay present even if for a few minutes a day only.

I was very welcomed by the crew when I signed on Normand Pioneer after my maternity leave ended.  As I returned to my former activities, day by day, and at the same time I knew that my child was well taken care of and surrounded with the love of my family, my fears started to look pointless. Being a mother and an active Deck Officer was no longer a source of anxiety but a joy to me.

During this period on board, I looked for other women seafarers to talk about their experience and I realized that all of them ended their maritime career due to motherhood. Some by free choice, others because they had no other option. They had to choose between profession and motherhood, the lack of family support or lack of professional stability in the company they worked at were some of the reasons.

Hearing several reports, I decided to create an Instagram page, @mainha_embarcada (mom on board), to act as a support network for maritime women. A psychological support where we can exchange stories, experiences, advice and a lot of good energy.

Today, I love my profession even more, reconciled with motherhood. Only one word comes to mind when I think of my family and Solstad: GRATITUDE. This base might seem so simple, but unfortunately still not available for all the female maritime around the globe. With more knowledge and real-life stories, we can change this reality to a better scenario. I’m sure our kids see us as inspiration when we stand up to battle our own fights with a positive mindset.”




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