August 2019 Issue: BMSG’s Big Latch On 2019

By BMSG Editorial Team

On 3 August this year, the Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group (Singapore) (BMSG) held its annual Big Latch On event together with its co-organiser, the Association for Breastfeeding Advocacy (Singapore) (ABAS). This was in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week, which is celebrated during the first week of August every year. It was the first time that BMSG had collaborated with ActiveSG, a movement in Singapore which encourages an active and healthy lifestyle, as part of its National Day celebrations in the heartlands. 

Our BLO attendees chilling out picnic-style at SKH campus.

Part of the Global Big Latch On

The Big Latch On (BLO) is BMSG’s flagship event but is also part of the Global BLO, a not-for-profit movement founded in New Zealand which rallies breastfeeding mothers and communities all over the world to come together every year. Participants who have registered their events gather on any day between 3 to 5 August in similar meetups to BMSG’s BLO. For just one minute or so, mothers are encouraged to either latch their babies to their breasts, pump or feed their babies with breastmilk in any method during the synchronised latching segment. The number of women who attend the event is then added and pooled together with numbers from other venues to create a record for the year. This is also the tenth year anniversary of the BLO since it first started out in New Zealand. The Global BLO has turned into a global event that breastfeeding mothers and advocates look forward to every year.

First Time in the Heartlands

BMSG has held its BLO events in many places all over Singapore including Hong Lim Park, Emily Hill, and National University Hospital just last year. This year, the BLO was held on the compounds of SKH Campus located at Sengkang General Hospital together with other ActiveSG events. 

Held picnic-style, attendees sat around in the allocated compound at the venue on mats sponsored by ABAS. The mats were included in the goodie bags which attendees received during registration. It was heartwarming to see families, including fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, chilling and gathering together while mothers breastfed their babies. This truly contributed to normalizing breastfeeding in a public setting! 

BMSG President, Khatim Hamidon, giving her opening speech.

Conducting in the heartland also made it easier for mothers and their families to travel to the event. Amirah Diyana Kemat, a mother of a two year-old toddler, who is currently back in Singapore for a visit, felt encouraged to attend the BLO since the event was so near her parents’ home. “I attended the BLO because I wanted to feel a sense of solidarity with other mothers,” said Amirah, who lives overseas with her husband.

BMSG EXCO member and counsellor Siti Nuraidah, who led the organising committee for the BLO, agrees that attending the event was important for parents to see that there is a community that backs their decision to breastfeed. “When organizing the event, the team had hoped for parents to come together to not only show their support for breastfeeding but to also know that there is a community of support for them.” Siti also added that partnering other organisations helped to normalize breastfeeding: “We also partnered various organizations to change their perspective on breastfeeding and garner their support.”

Largest Turnout 

This year also made headlines for BMSG as it was one of the largest turnouts for our events. Over 250 people were present at the event! We were also honoured to have Mdm Rahayu Mahzam, Member-of-Parliament and Advisor to Bukit Batok East GRC, to be our Guest-of-Honour. This was also Mdm Rahayu’s second time in 2 years to grace our BLO and we are extremely heartened by her presence and support for breastfeeding mothers. 

Mdm Rahayu Mahzam (centre in white hijab) graced the BLO. Here, she is seen with representatives from BMSG, ABAS & ActiveSG.

We were also honoured to have celebrity mummy Joanne-Marie Sim hosting our BLO event despite being close to 27 weeks of pregnancy, expecting her third child. Joanne-Marie has also been a breastfeeding mother to her two older children so her presence made it all the more special! 

Synchronised Latching

We are proud to announce that 48 mothers had latched their babies, with one mother successfully tandem nursing her toddler and baby during the BLO. This also included one mother who pumped during the segment. On a global scale, BMSG’s BLO event was one of 814 events held in 28 countries. Breaking down the numbers, around the world:

    • 58,000 people came together to support breastfeeding (this includes spouses, partners, family members, breastfeeding advocates and volunteers)
    • 18,414 breastfeeding parents attended events in their communities and virtually through social media
  • 18,500 children latched and were breastfed 

Joanna Edwards, the organiser of the Global BLO, commented in a press release:

“This year was our milestone tenth anniversary year and as in every year prior, this event continues to inspire me as it supports more families each year and nurtures lasting cultural change. All the hosts who arranged an event in their community have my complete gratitude and I am so happy to have their support: the Global Big Latch On would not work without them. This event is about normalizing breastfeeding journeys, however they look and that’s often not the same for everyone. Just a quick look on our social media feeds over this World Breastfeeding Week 2019 shows this.”

The BMSG BLO was one of the many Global BLO events happening around the world, just like this one in Lansing, Michigan [Screenshot from Wilx.com]

JoBeth Williams, who is also a BMSG staff and counsellor, was the only mother who pumped during the BLO. JoBeth, who is still nursing her toddler, used a Haakaa to express her milk on that day. “I was glad to be able to contribute and do my part for the BLO even though my baby was not able to attend with me that day. I hope that we can promote next year’s event to more pumping moms and help to normalize pumping in public as well!”

Highlights

Apart from the synchronized latching and pumping segment, as part of the Active SG celebrations, we also held a babywearing zumba segment which was led by the amazing (pregnant!) team from Nawal Haddad Fitness. The zumba was definitely the crowd’s favorite, seeing how mothers were energetically swaying with their babies safely attached to them in babywearing gear, dancing their stress and worries away – it was lovely to see our mothers letting their hair down while daddies and other family members cheered them on. 

The Nawal Haddad Fitness trainers (centre) led the zumba session with mothers and their babies.

Safety remains our top concern and we appreciated the presence of our partner for the day, Warabee, a certified babywearing consultancy, to check on our mums who participated in the zumba activity that day. We were also heartened that one daddy joined the zumba segment too!

“It was amazing to see the whole “village” made up of parents and their children coming together and having a good time! Their excitement was apparent especially during the Babywearing Zumba segment!” added Siti.

Other Happenings at the BLO

Knowing that families were coming together, we knew that it was an opportunity to educate families and attendees on how they can support breastfeeding mothers. We were glad to have included the following segments in raising awareness on breastfeeding to families and children:

Dr Mythili Pandi, ABAS Vice-Chair and representative, presenting her speech on empowering women to enable breastfeeding.

Talk by ABAS: Empowering Mothers, Enabling Breastfeeding

Vice-Chairperson of ABAS, Dr Mythili Pandi, talked about how empowering mothers is a key factor to breastfeeding success in families in her talk at the beginning of the BLO event. 

While mothers in the past had a big community or village to support them especially after they had given birth, the reality of the world today is that mothers are living separately from their extended families. As such, they struggle with breastfeeding and managing other motherly duties. As they had grown up not being normalized by breastfeeding, it becomes something that is foreign to them.

Mothers then have to juggle between the tasks of mothering as well as going back to the workforce, a possible threat to breastfeeding especially if mothers are not prepared and are faced with unsupportive or misinformed management.

Breastfeeding Quiz

Daddies took part in the breastfeeding quiz too, to help mummies win some of the awesome sponsored prizes!

There are plenty of myths that have marred the reputation of breastfeeding and we thought a breastfeeding quiz would be a great opportunity for some breastfeeding education for the masses. What’s more, with over 20 sponsored prizes to be won, it was lovely to see very eager participants during the quiz. Our host, Joanne-Marie, made the quiz fun by also receiving responses from daddies – one mummy even kissed her hubby for winning her a much-coveted prize 😀 

Storytelling

BMSG EXCO member & counsellor Far’ain Jaafar (centre) telling stories with her companion Maria the Monkey!

Far’ain Jaafar, who is our volunteer counsellor and EXCO member, is an avid children’s book fan. Being a mum to 2 gorgeous children, she exposed her children very early to reading. We invited Far’ain to share some interesting reads to the older children attending the BLO and she read aloud a few stories centred on the theme of breastfeeding for children. And the children loved it – judging by their eager faces and bright-eyed expressions. There is nothing quite like sharing the love for breastfeeding with young minds.

Power team! Preggers host Joanne-Marie and trainers from Nawal Haddad Fitness (on stage) together with our babywearing photographer Aditi Chivate <3

Well-Received

We are glad that mothers came and enjoyed themselves, and more importantly, felt united and supported in the presence of other nursing mothers. Tina Shroff, a mother-of-two who came to the BLO and latched her one year-old baby, said that it was “incredible” to see so many mothers coming together. “The fact that so many mummies were coming together to get their babies to latch on collectively and be a part of such an amazing community is what inspired me to be a part of this lovely event,” said Tina, who also happens to be a counsellor with the BMSG.

That is exactly what the intent of the founders of the BLO movement and we hope that we can continue to provide this opportunity for breastfeeding mothers and their family members to come together again for next year’s BLO. 

Thank you to our partners and sponsors:

Click here to view our official photographs. Till BLO 2020!

Introducing BMSG’s 2019-2021 EXCO

By BMSG Editorial Team
Photo Credits: Lisa Matthews from Lisa Matthews Photography

Our newly-elected EXCO for 2019-2021. Many of our EXCO members are actively serving counsellors and volunteers.

We are extremely glad to introduce you to our EXCO members for 2019-2021!

EXCO members are key in making important decisions for our organisation and they work very hard behind the scenes to provide opportunities and support to breastfeeding mothers in Singapore. Apart from the operational running of the charity, EXCO members also take on  various roles such as, and not limited to:

  • Coming up with new initiatives and events to help make breastfeeding more inclusive and normalised
  • Conducting explorations and research in the areas of support that counsellors provide
  • Developing training content and materials for counsellors and ensure that counsellors are kept abreast with the latest in breastfeeding knowledge
  • Exploring ways to  make the organisation more sustainable and accessible to the public

…and many more!

Without further ado, here are the 12 newly appointed members of the BMSG EXCO for 2019-2021!

Khatim Hamidon, President

Khatim served as the Vice-President in the previous Exco and is currently an executive at a local Voluntary Welfare Organisation. The mother-of-two  is also one of the longest serving counsellor and volunteer in BMSG. As someone who has been on the board for a number of years, she sees her role evolving from breastfeeding supporter to advocate. She aspires to make breastfeeding the norm for all babies and families and is interested in breastfeeding education for the masses.

Elaine Chow, Vice-President

Elaine was the President of the 2017-2019 EXCO. The mother-of-four, who has recently welcomed a newborn, is excited to focus her work on the quality of BMSG’s counselling services and to continue contributing to the breastfeeding community. Elaine had kickstarted several key initiatives in expanding the potential of the organisation while in the previous EXCO and her role remains key in sustaining these initiatives. Elaine remains passionate to help mothers and continues to serve as a counsellor on BMSG’s counselling channels on top of her work as an EXCO member.

Far’ain Jaafar, Secretary

Mother-of-two, children’s book author, educator and birth doula, Far’ain strives to champion women in mothering and motherhood through empowerment and mother-to-mother support. Far’ain previously served on the BMSG EXCO for 2017-2019 as a member and is currently still serving as a counsellor on BMSG’s hotline since 2017.

Atiqah Halim, Treasurer

Atiqah is a public officer, blogger and writer in her free time. She shares about her family travel escapades online and interacts on social media with fellow family travel junkies. She is also a children’s book author. Atiqah is passionate about giving mothers the right support as she feels that can make all the difference in a mother’s breastfeeding journey. As an actively-contributing counsellor, Atiqah has been serving mothers on BMSG’s counselling channels and also frequently facilitates the Breastfeeding & Going Back to Work workshop.

MEMBERS

Mythili Pandi

Mythili, a mother of three,  is a practicing doctor and is also one of the lead assessors on board the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) team. Mythili has also been serving BMSG for many years now and was also once President. As a representative of BMSG at the Association for Breastfeeding Advocacy (Singapore) (ABAS), Mythili is passionate about reaching out to doctors in promoting breastfeeding both in the community and in the medical realms.

Ellen Nepilly

An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Ellen has a private practice in Singapore. Ellen, who is also a mother to a boy and a pair of girl twins, is also a health nutritionist. Her experience raising premature twin babies and the tremendous breastfeeding support she received back then in a foreign country has fuelled her drive to help other women. Ellen hopes to give back to the community by providing information and support just as well as she had received during her early days of breastfeeding.

Jasmine Tan Tai

Jasmine is an adult educator and babywearing consultant. Her experiences with her children have led her find passion in helping new parents through the many hats that she plays. She aspires to bring the knowledge and beauty of breastfeeding to the next generation by engaging teenagers and youths. Together with her interest in digital marketing, it is her dream to impact  engage more families with the natural beauty of breastfeeding both online and in real-life. Jasmine is also studying to become an IBCLC.

Siti Nuraidah

When Siti was still an undergraduate, she had discovered BMSG in the course of her studies and speaking with breastfeeding advocates back then left a lasting impression of her. A civil servant and a full-time working mother, Siti has regularly contributed as a workshop facilitator in BMSG during the past two years. She is also an actively serving counsellor on several of BMSG’s counselling channels despite her busy schedule. As an EXCO member, she would like to continue the good work of the organization in providing informed mother-to-mother support and opening up new opportunities to help less-privileged mums. She is also studying towards becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

Nor Faizah Masod

Mother-of-four Faizah is an early childhood specialist and works as a doula on the sidelines. Having breastfed all of her four children till the age of 2 with some hiccups along the way, Faizah is committed to providing mother-to-mother support especially when they face roadblocks along the way. Faizah has also been on the EXCO for the past two years and desires to make a difference by contributing her skills in event management to the organisation.

Alona Hodik

A childbirth educator and studying to become an IBCLC, Alona is a dedicated breastfeeding counsellor with the BMSG. She is also due to complete her IBCLC certification by the end of the year. Alona is a mother-of-three who is passionate about helping other mothers and is frequently seen on the BMSG’s Facebook group providing counselling support to distressed mums. As a BMSG board member, she would like to expand BMSG’s face-to-face counselling and establish a supportive breastfeeding community in Singapore.

Yen Lim

Yen is Director for a TCM healthcare service provider that has been in Singapore for the last 50 years. As a mother who has breastfed her 2 children, Yen believes that mothers deserve good postpartum support. She endeavours to create a breastfeeding  society where the mothers can become breastfeeding advocates for many generations to come.

Emma Bell

Emma is a trainee Breastfeeding Counsellor with the BMSG. Her breastfeeding journey was not straightforward and was hindered in the early days with misinformation, but in searching for the answers she discovered a passion for helping other women overcome their breastfeeding hurdles. Emma is currently breastfeeding her four year old daughter and is active online in breastfeeding support groups. She is passionate about helping new mothers access good information and support which will set them up with confidence to meet their breastfeeding goals.

We hope that you will continue to support our EXCO members, counsellors and volunteers who have made BMSG into what it is today after over 50 years of existence. Together, we will strive to  create a world where breastfeeding is the norm and that mother-to-mother support exists as part of the natural course of breastfeeding.

To read our EXCO members’ individual profiles, click here.