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.

Breastfeeding & Festivities: Hari Raya Special

By Nabila Hanim, BMSG Counsellor

Just like many other festivities, Hari Raya is a day of celebration and joy yet it can also be overwhelming for mother and baby.

“Oh come, come! You can go into the room with your baby and susukan (nurse) your baby there, more comfortable!” said a relative of mine to me. I was perspiring in my baju kurung and carrying a wailing baby in tow – this was the ultimate invitation that I knew would provide us relief. I had wanted to look pristine for the day but there I was, feeling like I just needed to go home right there and then.

This was a scene from Hari Raya visiting about a few years ago and the third one with a baby, but it never gets better. Like many other festivities, Hari Raya brings with it joy, merriment (and FOOD!) but nothing beats the exhaustion and exasperation that comes with bringing a young breastfeeding baby in tow.

As a mother of three who have gone through the ups and downs of celebrating Hari Raya for the past seven years, I have four tips that can help make the lives of nursing mums and bubs that bit more comfortable to join in the merriment of celebrating Hari Raya.

Regardless of how old your baby is, always observe your baby’s cues for tiredness and fussiness.

Tip 1: Try to get some privacy

Back to the makcik (aunty) who offered me a room: it was the best.decision.ever.

Why? Because not only did I get the room to myself, and a bed even, to nurse my baby. I also get to escape from the huge crowd in the flat’s small living room filled with strangers in Hari Raya garb trying to get the last lontong in the pot. I could also unzip my baju kurung to breastfeed while at the same time enjoying the blasting fan all to myself, and sometimes if I am lucky, I get air-con!

While Hari Raya clothes are so pretty to look at, the material can be a pain. Non-absorbent, mixed with Singapore’s humidity, your sweat, and sometimes baby vomit can really be a recipe for disaster.

I have tried to breastfeed in the living rooms at some of my relatives’ homes. But if there is a huge crowd who seems to show a huge interest in my milk affair, I much prefer the comforts of a room. While it would be nice to breastfeed anywhere I can, I also do appreciate the respite that comes with a room to myself.

Exclusively pumping mums may also appreciate being allowed a room to pump milk in peace. I have also heard of mummy friends who pump in the car or at the void deck with a nursing cover before visiting. Whatever it is, make time for nursing because not only is it good for baby, you can also get some rest.

Preempting baby’s feeds and nursing for comfort are some ways you can try to manage your baby being overstimulated.

Tip 2: Watch your baby’s cues

Every year when we had a new baby, I would make a deal with my husband: “We will only visit four homes today, ok?” but we almost always ended up visiting more. Just like everything else, Hari Raya schedules are unpredictable.

I always try to manage my babies by looking out for their cues. With the flurry of activities and social interactions, including passing baby around, I always look out for my babies’ cues to see if they may need some time away from the crowd. If all things fail and baby remains fussy, be ready to change your plans and head home. I have found, too, that when baby is overstimulated in the day, it may signal a long night of fussiness ahead as baby may find it difficult to settle.

At times, I will also nurse a baby at the void-deck of the home we are about to visit or in the car with the aircon blasting before we head upstairs. This gives my babies and I ample time to regroup and for the family to just take a breather. If you also have other younger children, a quick pit-stop for ice-cream or rest at an air-conditioned restaurant can do wonders to your moods!

Elaborate outfits can contribute to your baby’s discomfort. Check that your outfit is not studded; this can be uncomfortable or too sharp for baby when you carry or feed him or her. Baby’s cheeks may also become sore if rubbed too hard on these. Additionally, such studs can easily come off if the sewing was not done properly – definitely a choking hazard!

Tip 3: Don’t miss feeds!

If you are embarrassed about asking for a room to feed your baby or pump, or if for some reason baby is sleeping longer than usual and not waking up to drink, remember to make time for feeding or pumping before you get engorged.

Missing a feed can cause a myriad of consequences that may not be comfortable for you and your baby:

  • Engorgement can lead to blocked ducts, which may be painful or cause other side effects such as lowered supply or mastitis
  • Engorgement may also cause a build up of foremilk which will then cause gassiness if baby feeds too much of it. Remember, a gassy baby may make a fussy baby = not fun for both of you
  • Lowered supply in the long run; breasts which are frequently emptied signals to your body to continue producing milk. Since Hari Raya visiting may also happen on weekends, it is absolutely important to ensure that you continue to latch on demand to maintain your supply. This may be especially helpful if you are a working mum on the weekdays and pumping milk for your baby’s next-day feeds.

Tip 4: Wear comfortable clothes for yourself and baby

Keep yours and baby’s clothings comfortable and continue to nurse to baby’s comfort throughout the day.

It is great that more and more designers and fashion companies are mindful of the needs of a nursing mother nowadays.

While nursing access is a must for any Raya outfit, material is equally important. If you still want to look classy and elegant on Hari Raya, opt for materials which offer more sheen or sequins, preferably not at the bust area as this may be uncomfortable for your baby.

There are also stretchable offerings for Hari Raya clothings such as stretch lace and even printed lycra. You can jazz up your skirt, shawls (if you are wearing one) or bags and shoes while keeping your top simple. If you wear a shawl or tudung, I also find it extra helpful to wear one with ample front coverage so that you do not need a nursing cover to feed. If you do need a nursing cover, some mums find that a plain one may work better than a printed one, since that can distract baby from nursing. You may also prefer a darker-coloured top if you are concerned about milk stains and sprays.

For baby, it may be helpful to bring several changes of clothes. There are also options for traditional wear for babies made from more comfortable material such as lycra or stretch cotton. Also, do not be afraid to make your baby wear something simple if that is more comfortable for baby. A simple onesie and socks may just be all that your baby can bear in this unbearably hot weather and hectic visiting schedule!

All in all, what’s important is that you and your baby’s comfort is top priority!

With the end of Ramadhan fast approaching, I wish all nursing mothers and their families a Selamat Hari Raya! May we reap the benefits and rewards of Ramadhan and be blessed with a joyous Syawal <3

Do you have other tips to  make breastfeeding more comfortable this Hari Raya? Share your comments below!