Sept 2018 Newsletter: Volunteer Appreciation Day

By BMSG Editorial Team

Volunteers are the heart and soul of BMSG, and we decided it was time to set aside a day to show our appreciation to them. So on 22nd September, BMSG conducted our Volunteer Appreciation Day for our family of volunteers. It was a hearty affair, not without laughter and merriment, for all the hard work that our volunteers had put in during the past few years.

Our volunteers include our counsellors, who are strongholds of our counselling platforms, as well as mothers who have shared at our workshops or contributed their time, ideas and stories for our monthly newsletter. Some of our volunteers have also contributed their energy at our events throughout the year.

As most of our volunteers may rarely get a chance to meet one another in person, largely due to the fact that many of them work remotely, the Volunteer Appreciation Day (VAD) was intended to bring together all of them to honour their contributions.

Some counsellors from the 2017 batch. Back row (from left): Norliyana Noor Mohammad, Nurhidyawati Sahid, Norfaizah Masod, Ellen Nepilly, Nabila Hanim, Nur Shirhaini Sarip, Alona Hodik, Atiqah Halim. Front row: Elaine Chow (our President, who also trained in 2017), Far’ain Jaafar & Shana Shang.

Elaine (left) with some of the counsellors who trained in 2018: (back row, from left) Armelle Etienne, Cheryl Chan, Melissa Kirwin, Kwan Xiuwen, JoBeth Williams, Mysha Tan. Front row: Valerie Loh, Norazlinah Taha & Saidatunnajat Yusuf.

Our President, Elaine Chow, gave out certificates to all volunteers to thank them for their contributions and hard work. A special certificate was also given to our counsellors for completing their training hours. Special mentions were given to counsellors who received the Long Service Award for still serving as counsellors since way before 2017. 

Elaine with Freji Kaylaku (centre) and Tan Hui Ning (Lanie) (right). Freji and Hui Ning both trained in 2015 and are still currently serving as active counsellors.

The BMSG team also managed to present a bouquet of flowers to Khatim Hamidon, our Vice-President, for being one of the longest serving counsellors. Khatim had trained to become a counsellor in early 2012 and is still serving as a counsellor. Other counsellors joining her ranks would be Mythili Pandi, our Immediate Past President and Lead Trainer (for counsellors) who trained in late 2012, as well as Nurhidayati Yahya, who trained in 2010. Both Mythili and Nurhidayati were  sadly not able to attend the VAD.

Our Vice-President, Khatim, who is also one of our longest-serving counsellors, receiving a bouquet from Elaine.

Right after that, we had counsellors from the 2017 and 2018 batches share their journey and growth in their one year of service. Counsellors Atiqah Halim and Alona Hodik, from the 2017 batch of counsellors, spoke about the struggles and sweetness as a BMSG counsellor. It was interesting to hear of how much they have grown from the initial fears of answering their first counselling post, being recognised via the #bmsgcounsellor hashtag, to facing challenges in their daily counselling work in their bid to help mums.

Atiqah (left) and Alona (right) spoke about how they have grown as BMSG counsellors.

Subsequently, JoBeth Williams, who is also our staff, as well as Valerie Loh, both of whom trained this year, spoke about their journeys growing from being just a breastfeeding mum to gaining new friendships with other counsellors through the counselling training and from being part of the counselling team. Our counsellors are all breastfeeding mums who understand the struggles and quirks of being one. Counsellors constantly give each other support and a shoulder to cry on when things get tough in the face of counselling. Having this village for counsellors affirms the need for all mothers to have a village or a tribe she can depend on, which BMSG hopes to build for mothers who come our way.

Valerie also shared how she had memories of replying to counselling queries in the middle of the night as she sleeps late sometimes because she was compelled by the fact that the mummies who asked were probably desperate for an answer. We certainly appreciate the silent and unspoken, even unknown, struggles of some of our volunteers who go out of their way to help other mums even though there is nothing tangible for them to receive as rewards, other than the satisfaction and pure joy of helping another mum.

Thank you to our volunteers! A special dessert table on top of a buffet to spend the afternoon together in joy.

Counsellors were treated to a buffet and dessert spread, as well as games to inject some stitch-inducing laughter. After three hours of mingling, getting to know one another, and more importantly catching up, we ended the day with a video montage and group photos of everyone.

Nothing like a we-fie to end the beautiful afternoon! Note how babies and children are always a part of us.

While not all our volunteers were able to attend the VAD, which is something that we really regret, we know that their passion and sincerity to serve shine bright and strong especially looking at how earnest and hardworking our volunteers carry out their responsibilities without asking to be repaid. We will continue to honour our volunteers, who are also busy mums, for contributing their energy and time so selflessly to help build a community of trusting breastfeeding mums.

Keen to volunteer? We are constantly looking for writers for our monthly newsletters as well as mothers who can share at our workshops. Write in to nabila@breastfeeding.org.sg to share your ideas with us!

Sept 2018 Newsletter: BMSG Workshop News

By BMSG Editorial Team

BMSG counsellors have been kept very busy this year due to the introduction of our new and reduced workshop pricing. Noting the surge in demand especially for the Breastfeeding 101 (BF101) workshop, we switched from bi-monthly to monthly BF101 workshops in the middle of this year. We also recently conducted our September run of the Breastfeeding & Going Back to Work Workshop, which takes place every two months.

Full house turnout at our recent BF101 workshop in August! It was conducted by breastfeeding counsellors Kathryn & Alona (in white & turquoise respectively).

Outcomes of Workshops

On top of receiving breastfeeding education, workshop participants (both mothers and fathers) will also hear from mothers who share their experiences. We invite our volunteers, who are breastfeeding mothers, to talk about their experiences which are relevant to the topic of the workshop. This gives our workshop a realistic edge and allows parents to hear for themselves the theories they have learnt being applied in real life.

This month, we invited Wong Shu Yi, a teacher and a mother of one, who shared about how she transited into her role as a working mother after maternity leave.

As we all know, a day in the life of a teacher is a hectic experience and adding pumping to the works can overwhelm any new mother. It may seem that breastfeeding is difficult to sustain after maternity leave, especially when mothers have jobs with unforgiving schedules. However, Shu Yi showed the participants how she was able to ease her pumping routine into her work day.

Shu Yi shares with us how she adapts her pumping schedule based on the activities she has for the day, ensuring that she still pumps at least three times at work and latches her baby before and after work.

Coupled with good support at home and a resilient attitude, Shu Yi demonstrated how she was able to pump enough for the next day’s feed. Shu Yi also pumped every two to three hours, a recommended schedule for pumping mothers. However, owing to the adaptive nature of her job, she was able to work around the timings to pump in order to maintain her supply and has managed to do this until her daughter had turned one.

Shu Yi emphasised to the workshop participants how important it is for mums to latch their babies whenever they can as frequent latching helps to maintain the supply of breastmilk.

She also direct-latched her baby when she was not at work and after she returned home because she knew the importance of latching to stimulate her milk supply especially when she was separated from her baby during the day. She also mentioned that she appreciated these latching sessions as they were moments for her to bond with her baby girl.

Even when she had to invigilate exams, Shu Yi did missed the chance to pump. We were especially inspired by a picture that Shu Yi had shown during her sharing of her pumping at her desk with just a nursing cover.

To save time, Shu Yi gets by pumping at her desk with just a nursing cover.

With a never-say-die attitude and her belief that latching her baby promotes bonding, we are astounded by Shu Yi’s commitment to breastfeeding. We also couldn’t help but notice how attached her daughter, who was present at the workshop, was to her mum!

Thank you Shu Yi for sharing your story! We hope that you will continue to have a great breastfeeding journey beyond your baby’s first birthday <3

Keen to attend our workshops? Check out our workshop schedule. If you are a breastfeeding mother and want to share at our workshops, write to us at workshop@breastfeeding.org.sg.