October 2017: Editor’s Note

Dear readers,

After the flurry of activity in August and September, October has been back to business as usual in BMSG. We had our usual events – Breastfeeding & Birthing workshop with childbirth educator Hanani (which was very well-attended!), and our Mum 2 Mum meeting. [P/S Our M2M meetings currently take place in our BMSG office, but if any member is open to host them in her home, we would be keen to. Just let us know!]

 An upcoming event which BMSG is very happy to support is the public education talk by Clarity (a community mental health social service organization) on Maternal Mental Health. Perinatal mental health is something that is close to our hearts, because we encounter so much of this in our work providing mother to mother support. We encourage all our members to attend, to learn more about this very important issue.

Another campaign that we have been supporting is “Bare It For Baby”, a project by NTU student Dayna Yin, promoting breastfeeding in public. In recent years, this issue has cropped up in the public space a number of times. It does seem like the tide is turning in favour of breastfeeding mothers, but more can still be done! Do take a moment to visit her page and share a picture of yourself breastfeeding your baby in public, and tag it #momswhobare

It’s wonderful that BMSG has become the gathering place and coordination point for such community efforts. Beyond breastfeeding support and breastfeeding advocacy, we are now also a part of the conversation, on topics relating to breastfeeding and beyond. I am proud to be a part of this; and I hope you are too.

Until next month,

Elaine

October 2017: Jas’s story

By Jas Tan, milk donor

I was watching the news on the launch of the Donor Human Milk Bank Programme at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) when it hit me: how about donating to this noble initiative? I don’t know much about it but I instinctively knew that it is something I can possibly do. I can save young lives and bless these mummies who are not able to produce sufficient breast milk in time for their little ones.

I have since learnt that the Donor Human Milk Bank Programme is a non-profit initiative by Temasek Foundation Cares. It aims to provide a ready supply of safe, pasteurised human breast milk to premature and sick neonates of mothers who may be unable to provide adequate breast milk to support their babies’ developmental requirements.

I picked up the phone and booked for an appointment without a second thought. What can be better than saving the precious and delicate lives of babies in the Neonatal ICU? During my visit to the human milk bank at Level 2 of the KKH, I was asked to fill in a form. After receiving my consent to obtain a specimen of my blood, I had to undergo a screening process. I was then certified to donate my breast milk on a regular basis for a maximum period of a year after giving birth. The whole process took less than 20 minutes. As the Donor Human Milk Bank Programme operates on weekdays only, I had to trouble my husband to deliver my breastmilk to KKH after I had my milk prepared and packed.

I believe my excess frozen breast milk will be put to good use in this way. Premature babies are fighting for their survival in the NICU and every drop of breastmilk is precious. As a fellow mummy, this was the little that I could do to help and encourage mummies to breastfeed their babies and to pay it forward if they have more than enough breast milk.

 

 

Breastfeeding has countless benefits ranging from bonding with our own babies to saving the precious lives of other people’s babies and if you have more than enough supply of milk, why not donate them to the KKH milk bank?

To find out more about the KKH milk bank or to be a donor, you can read more here.

 

October 2017: Milk Talk

By Melissa Kirwin, BMSG volunteer

EBF…EBM…IBCLC…BFHI?
What are all these acronyms and what exactly is the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative?

Expecting a baby, especially your first, can be an extremely exciting yet stressful time for new moms and dads. It does not help when it feels like you are reading code language while doing research to make plans for the pending arrival. Here we will provide you with the information to help make a very important and personal decision – if you plan to breastfeed, (and we obviously strongly encourage you to!) where should you deliver your baby?

The World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with UNICEF launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) to promote and support breastfeeding in hospitals and maternity units. Since the BFHI began in 1991, more than 15,000 facilities have been award Baby-Friendly status across the world, including a number of hospitals and medical centers
here in Singapore. (1) The WHO recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their lives for optimal infant growth and development as well as for health benefits for the mother. (2) To become Baby-Friendly, a facility must not accept free or low-cost breast milk substitutes, feeding bottles or teats and have implemented the following ten steps for successful breastfeeding. (1)

Ten steps to successful breastfeeding

 Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
 Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
 Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
 Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one half-hour of birth.
 Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
 Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
 Practice rooming in – that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
 Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
 Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
 Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

As of June this year, all three public hospitals in Singapore are BFHI certified and many of the private hospitals indicate that they are either working towards becoming certified or will review their practices to align further with the BFHI. (3) If you have your heart set on a hospital for delivery and they are not certified, have this list of 10 steps to successful breastfeeding handy at your hospital tour and/or include it with your birth plan. A good hospital and its staff will always give their best efforts to accommodate your requests. If you encounter resistance or questioning, it may be a good idea to move on to hospital choice number two to see if they will better support your efforts to breastfeed.

NOTE: To decode the other acronyms – EBF is exclusively breast-fed, EBM is expressed breast milk and IBCLC is International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

 

Reference:

1)The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
https://www.unicef.org/programme/breastfeeding/baby.htm
2) Exclusive breastfeeding
http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/exclusive_breastfeeding/en/
3) Bigger push for private hospitals to adopt standard breastfeeding-friendly practices
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/bigger-push- for-private- hospitals-to- adopt-standard- breastfeeding-friendly- practices