March 2018 Newsletter: International Women’s Day

by BMSG Editorial Team

#PressforProgress – the hashtag for this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration is a stark reminder that a lot of work remains to be done when it comes to giving women opportunities to live to their best potential in this life.

For breastfeeding mothers and advocates, pressing for progress means fighting the unseen and tangible pressures that surround the breastfeeding community against fulfilling our children’s right for milk.

When we look at how society views breastfeeding, it seems that the difficulty in advocating for it stems from the tension of the multiple hats that women have to wear: wife, daughter, mother, worker. The difficulty in understanding it can be due to the unquantifiable nature of a mother’s desire to breastfeed, and how breastfeeding can sometimes be at odds with our fast-paced way of life. It is the intangible benefits of breastfeeding that perplex most people because they are not immediately obvious to those who are not privy to the breastfeeding relationship between a mother and child.

Some ideas come to mind when we think of what could be done to help the progress of breastfeeding mothers:

  • Encouraging policies that allow working mothers to stay at home with paid leave for a longer duration
  • Workplace policies that support mothers who pump milk for their babies – incentives for employers, facilities for pumping, as well as permission for the mother to take time off from work to pump
  • Childcare facilities being more open to supporting mothers who wish to provide breastmilk for their toddlers and older children
  • No harassment or shaming of mothers who breastfeed in public
  • Better awareness and education on breastfeeding as a norm
  • Excellent postpartum support for mothers that starts right from the hospital; ample opportunities for rooming in and bonding; precise support from lactation consultants and nurses for newborns and mothers; the provision of accurate and evidence-based information for parents to make informed choices
  • Reigning in formula milk and baby food marketing in hospitals and healthcare offices, and instead investing in the training of breastfeeding science and support for health personnel

While it may seem a tall mountain to climb, let us not forget that though the efforts may take awhile to move things, any small progress is a reason for success and a possible turning point. In the spirit of IWD, let us also not forget that individually we may not achieve significantly but together we can make great changes, as we have seen in the history books how women have flourished from chapter to chapter.

From all of us at BMSG, Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Feb 2018 Newsletter: Counsellor Spotlight

By BMSG Editorial Team

As part of recognising the work of our volunteer counsellors, we will be featuring our counsellors regularly in our monthly newsletter. Our counsellors come from all walks of life, which adds diversity to our counsellor team. This month, we feature Atiqah Halim, a working mum of 3 boys who recently gave birth to her youngest baby.

Atiqah (in pink) with her family.

1) Tell us more about yourself!

Hi, I’m Atiqah. Mum of 3 boys. Currently working with the Civil Service College. In my free time, I organise play dates and blog about my experiences travelling with young kids in tow.

 

2) How long have you been a breastfeeding counsellor? 

I attended training to be a counsellor since March last year. We assumed duties as counsellors from June 2017. So it’s been about 7 months or so.

 

3) What inspired you to become a volunteer counsellor? 

I realised that a lot of new mums out there are not getting the right information and support that they need when it comes to breastfeeding matters. In my own personal capacity, I try to provide nuggets of information to friends, family and colleagues but these were purely based on my experiences breastfeeding my 2 older boys. Since this is a topic that I was passionate about, I felt there was space to do more, and then I happened to chance upon BMSG’s advert calling for more breastfeeding counsellors and decided to go for it.

4) What were some of the most memorable moments you had in your counselling work?

My counsellor duties include managing the BMSG helpline and Facebook support group during my allocated shifts as well as conducting Breastfeeding & Going Back to Work workshops. I have conducted two workshops so far, and it was meaningful because you get to meet mummies (and daddies) who are so eager to learn and get support for their breastfeeding journeys. Having gone through 2 rounds of “going back to work post-maternity leave” myself, I felt there was plenty I could share from my own as well as other mummies’ experiences on how to make that transition. I also enjoy the phone counselling calls because of the “personal touch” and it feels great to know that you have helped to alleviate some of the anxiety that mummies have during their breastfeeding journey.

 

5) How do you juggle between your responsibilities at home, at work, and your counselling duties?

I must say I’m very lucky to have an excellent support network back home. My mum takes care of my babies in their first 2 years, just so I can return to the workforce. Now, both my elder kids are attending full day childcare but my dad will fetch them from school and bring them back to their place. There’s no pressure on my part to have to leave work on time and fetch them from their childcare. Also, since I gave birth to #1, I’ve made arrangements for part-time help with the household chores. That has been helpful too, as we can spend our weekends with the kids and not worry too much about all the chores that needed to be done back home. My husband has been an excellent form of support, too. On days that I have to be in office early because of work, he handles the kids in the morning by himself and I must say he’s really awesome at it. I don’t have much to worry about when I’m away at work because I know the kids are well taken care of – at home, in school and at my mum’s place.

 

The counsellors’ training for 2018 will begin this month! We wish our trainee counsellors all the best and we look forward to having you with BMSG. Interested in becoming a counsellor? Look out for our trainings, which are held annually, in 2019!