Counsellor Nas Haidar Onn (2015 Batch)
As published in our January 2016 edition of the BMSG newsletter.
Welcome to the first issue of 2016! We are very excited to be ushering in the new year with our revamped office. We also hope to be able to organize small meet-up support sessions in our little cozy corner.
For this issue of our newsletter, we speak to one of our breastfeeding counsellors, Haidar, on her journey of being a BMSG counsellor since August 2015.
Haidar is mother to 3 girls and started breastfeeding when her first child was born in December 2011. She is currently breastfeeding her youngest baby who is 5 months old.
Our counsellor, Haidar, having a quiet moment nursing her baby in a garden.
Why did you decide to become a BMSG counsellor?
To be able to help other mothers who want to breastfeed. There is no one answer to any issues a mother faces while breastfeeding. We mothers face a variety of problems based on our circumstances, such as family support and lifestyle. Thus, with the training that we have received with BMSG, I am able to provide the correct information to mothers in need and support them in a non-judgmental way.
Did you face any difficulties on your own journey of breastfeeding?
Yes! Nipple plain, bloody, cracked nipples, lack of sleep, breast refusal, worries about giving enough milk, being a paper napkin from baby vomit, engorgement- you name it and I’ve been there!
Joke aside.. With all my family members based in Australia, I have had very minimal support when my first kid was born. I was keen to breastfeed as my mother has breastfed all her 7 children and she made it sound really easy. “Just latch on”, she told me at that time. However, neither I nor my in-laws had sound knowledge on breastfeeding. So I was not prepared sufficiently for the challenges of breastfeeding, such as the night feedings and latching positions, just to name a few.
So how has being a BMSG counsellor impacted you as a breastfeeding mum?
It has helped me tremendously in handling my 3 children! After my first born, I thought I knew everything about breastfeeding. Little did I know that every child is different! For instance, with my first born, I hardly had problems with latching but it did not come naturally with my third child. It was then I realized that the breastfeeding journey with each child is unique and may bring another set of unknown difficulties and definitely wonders too!
I have come to realize, from being on the helpline, that we (as breastfeeding mothers) are probably facing a lot of the same issues and now I’m more aware and am comforted by the fact that we are definitely not alone.
How do BMSG counsellors reach out to mothers in need?
All BMSG counsellors are rostered to work on the BMSG helpline, +65 6339 3558. The line is open from 9am to 7pm everyday, and mothers in need of counseling or queries can call in for help.
The BMSG counsellors will assess and work through any breastfeeding-related issues that the mother faces, until she finds a solution. If the issue is beyond our expertise, we will let her know and refer to a more relevant service. At the end of each call we hope that the mother is equipped with strategies and facts to enable her to tackle the issues with confidence. If the BMSG counsellors are not available to pick up the call, the caller can leave a message and we will reply within 24 hours.
Alternatively, mothers can also send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org where a counsellor will respond to the email. Another way to contact a counsellor would be to post a question on our facebook group “Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group (Singapore)”. This is a closed group which is carefully moderated by our trained counsellors.
Name one myth about breastfeeding that you will like to bust!
This is one statement that I hear a lot from mothers, “I can’t make milk” or “I don’t make enough milk”.
If you feel that your milk supply is an issue, do contact our counsellors for help! Generally, all mothers can make milk, unless you have a medical condition, which we will suggest for mothers to speak to a healthcare professional. Otherwise, most supply issues can be easily corrected with some information and support.
Lastly, Is there anything that you think should be changed in Singapore, to make it more conducive for breastfeeding mothers?
It starts from one person. This person could be you. The next time you see a mother nursing her child in public, just be kind and give a sincere smile. Just that.
If you are enthusiastic and want to show your support, be positive and give a praise for her efforts!
One thing we learnt during our training is unconditional positive regard for all our mothers. This means that we do not judge the callers regardless of how strange or far fetched their queries may be.
We hope that this spirit of kindness and openness can be extended to the Singapore society towards all breastfeeding mothers. To many, breastfeeding in public or the workplace may not be a norm. But everyone wants a healthy and strong next generation – and breastfeeding is one of the easiest and safest way to make that happen. Please speak with us if you feel that you need some support!
We hope that this issue has provided you with insights of how our counsellors are able to assist fellow breastfeeding mums on any queries and worries that you may have.
Meanwhile, there is an exciting project underway by Breast-feeding Friends which is due to launch in the upcoming month. BMSG is an official supporter of the campaign, and we hope to share more details in the following issues. Do stay tuned for more updates!