May 2018 Newsletter: BMSG 28th Annual General Meeting

By BMSG Editorial Team

It was a cosy affair on 12 May as members of the public, BMSG members and the EXCO gathered together at SCWO for our Annual General Meeting (AGM). As usual, our AGM is a yearly affair where the BMSG team gets to meet our stakeholders, including mothers we have served, people who are invested in the breastfeeding scene as well as family and friends.

BMSG President, Elaine Chow (standing), presenting our Annual Report.

There was an air of excitement in the room as the BMSG team donned our newly-designed t-shirts, which was lovingly produced by our staff and counsellor-in-training JoBeth Williams. As we gathered to hear from our current President, Elaine Chow, while munching on snacks, it was heartwarming to also see the little ones join us. From babies in arms, to sleeping toddlers and chatty preschoolers, it was hard to miss the fact that without these little humans, BMSG would never have come into existence.

We were also heartened to discover that among our attendees was Anna Chin, who was once a Vice-President of BMSG in the 1970s. Anna, who is 75 now, was one of BMSG’s presidents in the 1970s. What was particularly heartwarming to know was when JoBeth, who is a mother of two, shared with us how Anna had been key to helping JoBeth’s mother made the decision to breastfeed her when she was a baby! How life has come full circle is one of the most beautiful things to learn about.

 

JoBeth (left) with our president, Elaine (centre), and Anna (right) who helped JoBeth’s mother made the decision to breastfed her when she was a baby.

As per our usual AGM routine, Elaine presented the Annual Report (AR) which was divided into 4 main sections:

  1. Outreach
  2. Activities & Events
  3. Collaborations and
  4. Media report (mentions of BMSG in the media)

Over the course of 2017 and the first half of 2018, BMSG has delved into several initiatives that were meant to extend our reach to mothers, improve the quality of our services as well as to provide more platforms for mothers to meet.

 

Counselling

Notably, our counselling platforms have increased; while we used to only serve mothers via our hotlines, we have seen a growing demand on our Facebook (FB) group which urged us to streamline our counselling efforts online. We rostered more counsellors to respond to queries on Facebook, ensuring that they were available to comment and help mothers through every Facebook enquiry. Our FB group now consists of over 11,700 members and the numbers are growing everyday. We also saw a demand for fathers and other family members apart from mums wanting to join our FB group to seek knowledge and support, which then led us to open up another FB group called “Breastfeeding Families” to cater to this need. Additionally, we also offer WhatsApp counselling which has seen a huge following since its inception possibly due to the increased privacy that mothers crave especially since breastfeeding can be a rather personal issue.

 

Workshops

With the increase in demand, especially with our Breastfeeding 101 workshop following our huge price change at the beginning of 2018 ($35 per couple and free for Community Health Assist Scheme – CHAS – cardholders), we have also started to offer monthly BF101 workshops. Our workshops have been selling out like hotcakes and we are looking into firming up our resources, especially since we are training a new batch of counsellors, which is our yearly investment to constantly improve our quality of services.

 

Activities

Our activities in 2017 and in early 2018 have been focused on reaching out to mums. We have also been offering our Mum 2 Mum (M2M) meetups since 2017, alternating between weekdays and weekends. We have found repeat attendees and some participants also come along with their family members in order to educate or to involve them in understanding the needs of a breastfeeding family. Our M2Ms are also high in demand but we try to keep the numbers small to keep the meetups cosy. We hope to continue this effort in 2018 with more vigour and variety – we have just recently collaborated with the National University Hospital (NUH) to conduct monthly meetups, and we also hope to target pregnant mothers as well. We are also collaborating with babywearing educators from Babywearing Singapore to provide breastfeeding knowledge in their workshops for parents held at the local libraries over the month. Definitely exciting times ahead!

Our EXCO members and staff (Nabila & JoBeth, in maroon & grey baby carriers respectively) donning our newly designed t-shirts!

Breastfeeding Advocacy

Our presence in the media is also important. As an organisation that prides itself on equipping members with breastfeeding support and upgrading of breastfeeding knowledge, providing information to the public is key in helping to normalise breastfeeding. This is where we are more than a service provider but also the platform for us to advocate for breastfeeding and provide accurate information as well as topple myths and misperceptions towards breastfeeding. Our President and Vice-President (Khatim Hamidon) have been quoted in the media a few times this year on matters related to breastfeeding.

We are also proud to announce that we have been successfully inducted into the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) under its Asian chapter. Our President had had the honour of attending its General Assembly earlier this year and we are now part of a global network of organisations and individuals who are fighting hard and working towards policies around the world that will impact the way young babies and children are fed.

As we look back at 2017, we can’t help but be excited at what’s to come. We have a long road ahead of us and many expectations to fulfill from the mothers we serve. We are excited at how much we have grown but we also know it comes with a lot of hard work, team effort and commitment. We hope that the coming year will see more concerted effort and celebration success big or small.

For a full copy of our AR, click here.

For a full copy of our Financial Report, click here.

 

September 2017: BMSG Hosts Talk by Dr Yue Weng Cheu on Oral Development & Breastfeeding

By Melissa Anderson Kirwin, BMSG Volunteer

BMSG had the pleasure of hosting a formal speaking engagement with Dr. Yue Weng Cheu on Sunday, 17th of September. Parents of breastfed babies, breastfeeding advocates and various practitioners in the community were in attendance to hear Dr. Yue discuss the role of breastfeeding as training for the tongue and oral muscles for optimal future health.

Dr. Yue, who is the founder and clinical director of DP Dental, stated, “Everything the mouth does prepares us for life.” From the time we are in the womb, we swallow amniotic fluid. Once we are born, our mouths are integral in such critical activities as breathing, suckling, swallowing and communication. Dr. Yue discussed how the tongue is the most sensitive part of our bodies and breastfeeding is a “very intricate process” that involves many nerves and muscles working in coordination resulting in good jaw formation.

The term “Linguadontics” has been coined by Dr. Yue to define the integrative approach of practitioners of many fields in the treatment of health issues involving the tongue and other parts of the body. He sees patients with a variety of issues such as jaw pain, neck pain and sleep disturbances such as sleep apnea. His approach to treatment is rooted in the idea of suboptimal lingual and oral development earlier in life; the innate reflexes and neurological control involved in normative breastfeeding have significant influence in long-term health.

Dr. Yue pioneered laser treatment for infants in Singapore for tongue and lip ties and treats patients across a range of ages with a focus on infants and their associated feeding issues. If not treated in infancy, older children may suffer from issues such as inability to chew age appropriate solid foods or delayed development in speech.

Following Dr. Yue’s presentation, he was joined by fellow dentist, Dr. Loh Ee Ting and Kirsten Hannan, osteopath and IBCLC. This expert panel addressed a number of questions from the audience on how to balance breastfeeding and use of bottle or pacifier to promote optimal oral development; additional questions covered other breastfeeding topics including tongue and lip ties.

The talk was truly eye opening for many audience members. Eileen Ong, mother of one, said, “My biggest takeaway is about how low tongue positioning can negatively impact so many aspects of health and how we evolved to breastfeed so tongue positioning is optimised from infancy. Many of us probably chose to breastfeed knowing how our milk benefits the infant gut, and it seems like the impact breastfeeding has on a child’s oral development has been overlooked.”

Vanessa Wright, mother of two, also felt that learning about the role of the tongue was the highlight of the talk, “The tongue is more like an organ than a muscle… (and) breastfeeding is nature’s way of ensuring critical life training for the tongue.”

Breastfeeding counsellor, Tara Ghosh, who is from the Singapore chapter of La Leche League, was also supportive of Dr Yue’s work with tongue-tie release for breastfed babies, which allows them to breastfeed more effectively. “Breastfeeding and tongue tie release isn’t just good for the baby, it is the biological norm which trains the tongue to be correctly positioned and allows optimum teeth and jaw development. This in turn creates good health for life.”

From left to right: Namrata (BMSG Board Member), Dr. Loh Ee Ting (Dentist from DP dental clinic), Kirsten Hannan(Osteopath and IBCLC), Dr. Yue Weng Cheu (Clinical Director from DP dental clinic)

BMSG’s President, Elaine Chow summarized just how important this type of talk is for the breastfeeding community, “Dr Yue’s talk really helps us to understand how important breastfeeding is, in helping the mouth, jaw and tongue develop fully. This shows us that breastfeeding is really the best and most natural way for baby to feed. His treatment of tongue- and lip-tied babies also shows his support for breastfeeding mothers, who may otherwise struggle with or abandon breastfeeding due to these issues.”

BMSG’s leadership and members are truly grateful for Drs. Yue, Loh and Ms. Hannan’s time and expertise as we work to educate and support breastfeeding mothers and continue breastfeeding advocacy throughout our community.

Do hop over to our facebook page to view the whole album!