Is it possible to be a successful professional without giving up the dream of being a mother? Neurosurgeon Diana de Santana says yes!
The decision to be a mother without leaving aside the profession is not easy. In addition to the intense routine, many women face discrimination and prejudice in the labor market. But despite the difficulties, they guarantee that it is possible. Some also say that the challenge is an additional boost at work. A survey published by Forbes magazine also points out that women who are mothers increase their productivity compared to their peers without children. Neurosurgeon Dr. Diana de Santana confesses that she pondered a lot about her decision to be a mother. Surprised by the news that she is pregnant of twins, she emphasizes that women should not be afraid of the joy of having children and building a family.
Check the interview:
[REVISTA MULHER NEUROCIRURGIÃ (FEMALE NEUROSURGEON MAGAZINE)] Are they your first children? Tell us a little bit about your marriage and when did you think it was time to get pregnant?
[Dr. Diana] Yes, these are my first children. I started my relationship at the end of the neurosurgical residency and we have been together for 6 years. We never know for sure what is the best time to get pregnant. Is it better to expect to be professionally stable? What if this stability takes too long? Is it worth the risk of having children in old age? What does my partner want? In my case I pondered a lot. It has always been my desire to be a mother and I count on much support from both my partner and my family and this was fundamental in my choice to get pregnant.
[REVISTA MULHER NEUROCIRURGIÃ (RMN)] How far along you are in your pregnancy? t What are the names of the babies?
[Dr.] I am currently 7 months pregnant and we have not yet decided on the names of the babies. Since the father is English and his family lives in England we are trying to find names that are easy to pronounce in both countries. I thought it would be easier to choose, but it’s not! (Laughs).
[RMN] Are there any burdens and bonuses in this gestational period for the career?
[Dr.] For sure. Most female physicians are professionals with no fixed employment relationship. The most common types of contract are as a legal entity, so we have no salary guarantee during the period of maternity leave. This creates a lot of insecurity because our employers can dismiss us at this crucial moment in our lives. When we have our own office, another dilemma is the patients we treat. It is always important to have another colleague as a reference so your patients have someone to go to during your absence. The bonus is the joy of having children and raising a family. It’s something very special!
[RMN] How are pregnant women seen in this job market?
[Dr.] I have heard many reports that pregnant women are a problem for the service and many teams do not hire women precisely because at some point in their life they may leave for maternity leave. This is unfortunately a reality in our working environment. During one of my interviews to apply to medical residency in a certain institution, I was asked about the desire to be a mother, to become pregnant and to build a family. This has never been questioned for any other male colleague and should never be a criterion for approval or not in a medical residency. Already during my gestation, I had no problem or any impediment in my results and professional performance. I remained and continue in my routine, doing my surgeries and all my activities out of work. Patients trust a lot when we are sincere, open and create a personal bond, so I have not had any questioning or insecurity on their part. I do not think this should be the reality of all female neurosurgeons, there is still a lot of prejudice about it. I always hear other professionals questioning whether you are fit for work, if you can do surgeries, but I believe that every woman should set her limits, always in agreement with her obstetrician, aiming for her well-being and the health of the babies. This limit must be personal and not imposed by what other people think or imagine.
[RMN] What is your current routine and what should change with the babies?
[Dr.] Currently, I have a public contract and other private employments, as well as my own office, doctorate and representation in medical entities. With the babies I must fulfill my period of maternity leave and obviously my personal income should decrease, so I count on the help of my partner, my family and my savings to be able to spend that period financially comfortable. After this initial period, I intend to continue my activities as always. My husband has a different family education, very different from most people in Brazil, where women are national leadership figures, such as the queen and prime minister, and the responsibilities of home and family care are divided equally between parents. I believe that the children’s care is not exclusive to the mother but to the couple! All tasks can and should be divided between parents because I have always been raised this way and these are the values I would like to teach to my children.
[RMN] What’s the tip for female neurosurgeons who want to become mothers?
[Dr.] Do not be afraid if that is your personal desire. It is not easy, but if you plan, count on the support of your family and your partner and accept help. There is a network of women that grows every day and believe that your fight is the struggle of all and for sure, together we are stronger!