Interview with Ex-BMSG Staff Tay Hwee Hsi

Hwee Hsi has been our Admin Officer for the past two years. She has officially left BMSG at the end of December 2017 as her family will be moving to another country due to her husband’s work arrangement. We speak with Hwee Hsi to find out what it was like to work with BMSG and what insights she has gained from her experience. We also wish Hwee Hsi and her family all the best for their new chapter together. Thank you Hwee Hsi for your dedicated service and hard work during your time at the BMSG!

Hwee Hsi and her two lovely bubs, familiar faces at BMSG meetings and events.

How would you describe these past two years working for BMSG?

Lucky, just lucky. I am a stay-at-home mum who has been lucky enough to find this job that allows me to work from home most of the time, such that I could take care of my two children while bringing home extra income. BMSG has been so supportive towards the needs of my family, especially when my children were sick and I couldn’t respond to work emails promptly. Even when I needed to report physically to work on some days, I could bring my children along with me. That really helped when I had just ended my maternity leave with BMSG and had to come in every week for the counselor training! I would just place my son in a carrier and nurse him on demand even while I was working. (P.S. My son attended all the counsellor training which technically makes him a qualified counselor!) Compared to other mummies who needed to put in a lot of planning when they are going back to work, my returning to work journey was a breeze!

Also, I loved meeting other mummies and babies during workshops, meetups and events. It didn’t feel like work when I attended such events because most of the time, I get to meet new like-minded individuals. Of course, I am very blessed to have met all the awesome people here in BMSG, such as the Board Members and the counsellors. All of them have become great personal friends.

With all the perks that the job brings, I dare say that I am the luckiest of mums!

What were some of the highs and lows of your time here?

One of the highs of my job is definitely meeting other mummies and babies not just during the workshops but also during the counselling training. It was a joy to meet other like-minded mummies who are dedicated to helping out other mummies. Without any pay or benefits, they sacrifice precious time with their families just to be on our counselling channels to make sure that mummies get the help they need with regards to breastfeeding.

One of the lows that I had encountered here was during one of our Mum 2 Mum meetups. A mummy shared with us how her workplace was not supportive at all of breastfeeding, to the extent that they started monitoring the duration that these mummies spend in the nursing room or how they would ask her to switch off her “phone” when in fact she was just pumping at her table. We tried to recommend quieter pumps and other solutions but she was quite discouraged by her corporate culture. I was really sad because we could not find a solution for her, and it is not within BMSG’s current scope to extend our knowledge to the employers out there. While WHO recommends breastfeeding the baby for at least six months, it is discouraging to see mummies cut their breastfeeding journey short due to a lack of support from their family or their workplace. I hope that there would be some legislation in place to see that employers provide adequate support towards breastfeeding mummies in the near future.

Hwee Hsi and her son Joel (left) with BMSG President Elaine Chow (centre) and Dr. Valerie J. Flaherman, a visiting PD and IBCLC during the Big Latch On 2017.

Any interesting or memorable incidents?

Yes definitely! I remember that one of the first tasks that I had to do when I had just joined was to do a major overhaul of the BMSG office. It was more of a warehouse than an office at that time, and there was a lot of major moving to do. We only paid someone to help with the disposal of furniture, but I had to move the furniture myself. I remembered I was moving sofas, a fridge, a dry box and even standing cabinets. Two days later, I discovered I was pregnant!

Another memorable moment was during one of our Mum to Mum Meetups when my son had wanted to nurse. Instinctively, I buckled up my baby in his carrier and it suddenly became a live demonstration on latching while babywearing!

What will you miss about Singapore?

Definitely the support network – family and friends. Facetime is hardly the same as spending time together with family and friends.

How has working for BMSG influenced your own journey as a breastfeeding mother?

When I first started working for BMSG, I took breastfeeding for granted. My breastfeeding journey with my firstborn was very rosy and despite having two bouts of mastitis which was painful but not unbearable, I truly enjoyed every moment of breastfeeding. So much so that I was at a loss when my daughter self-weaned from breastfeeding. I was taken aback by the amount of queries our counsellors receive, and it was then that I realised that breastfeeding may not be as easy for other mummies out there as it was for others. I started to learn more about the difficulties that other breastfeeding mummies faced and appreciated the hard work that these mummies put in for their babies!

Also, BMSG has influenced me greatly on extended breastfeeding. My firstborn was about 18 months old when I joined BMSG and while my family was largely supportive of me breastfeeding my child, they often questioned me if I should start weaning her as she got older. I was undecided then but the culture at BMSG quickly convinced me that there are so many benefits in breastfeeding my toddler! Since then, my family still questioned me from time to time on why I am still breastfeeding my toddler, but I stand firm and am able to support my stand with facts. My toddler subsequently gently weaned herself at 27 months when I was pregnant, and I am thankful for such a smooth gentle weaning process, just the way that I would like breastfeeding to end with her!

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