- A total of 73 mothers latched on their babies in this virtual event, a big jump from last year’s total of 48 when the event was held at Sengkang Health Campus.
- Free Back-to-Work workshops available for breastfeeding mothers monthly until the end of this year, supported by the Seeds of Change fund.
The Big Latch On returned to Singapore on Sunday for the eighth year as the Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group (BMSG) once again hosted the country’s biggest breastfeeding event. This year for the first time the event was held online via Zoom, on Sunday 2nd August, to mark World Breastfeeding Week.
The Big Latch On is a global event which aims to raise awareness of breastfeeding support and knowledge available both locally and globally. This year’s Singapore event centred around the theme of Breastfeeding and Work, a campaign that BMSG is undertaking to increase public awareness and to normalise breastfeeding in workplaces. The campaign is supported bySeeds of Change Fund under the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Office for Women’s Development and administered by the Singapore Council for Women’s Organisations (or SCWO).
BMSG’s lead trainer Dr Mythili Pandi led a panel discussion which focused on breastfeeding and going back to work and explored the challenges which many mothers face. BMSG also launched the first of five campaign videos about work and breastfeeding, giving mothers practical tips and advice on how to prepare for returning to work after having a baby. BMSG President Khatim Hamidon said: “We are so excited to launch this video and very grateful that the Seeds of Change fund has enabled us to help mums in this way. We look forward to producing the other videos later, which we hope will go some way to help breastfeeding women when returning to work.”
This year’s Big Latch On also included information on breastfeeding through the current pandemic. Dr Chua Mei Chien, President of the Association for Breastfeeding Advocacy Singapore (ABAS) delivered a talk titled Breastfeeding and the mother with suspected/confirmed Covid-19.
“The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding in peace times as well as during this COVID-19 pandemic. Based on current evidence, breast milk does not play a significant role in SARS- CoV-2 transmission.”
“Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection can continue to provide breast milk with appropriate precautionary measures.”
Ms Khatim added “This year’s Big Latch On has been very different as we’ve had to hold it online. However, we feel that it is more important now than ever for mothers to feel part of a community and to know that we are all here to support each other.
“We are so glad that technology makes it possible for us to continue to come together and celebrate World Breastfeeding Week in this way. It is very heartening that we managed to see such a big jump in the number of mothers taking part in the synchronised latching compared to last year. Despite social distancing measures, we are fortunately able to nurture our breastfeeding community and this engagement shows that breastfeeding support is appreciated and is indeed a necessity.”
The Guest of Honour at the event was Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP (Nee Soon GRC). Mr Ng is a father of three and a Member of Parliament who regularly speaks up for issues pertaining to working families. He recently raised the issue of breastfeeding in public in parliament to get clarification for mothers on whether breastfeeding is allowed on public transport.
Mr Ng said “It’s been an absolute pleasure partnering BMSG, reaching out to parents to understand the difficulties they face in their breastfeeding journey and speaking up for you in Parliament.
“I will continue to speak up and fight to end any discrimination against working and/or breastfeeding parents.”
The event was attended by over 100 participants, including 73 mothers that latched their babies during the synchronised breastfeeding session. Attendees also took part in a quiz with prizes donated from a host of local businesses, and mothers were then given the opportunity to speak directly with a breastfeeding counsellor at the end of the event.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in 120 countries and marks the signing of the WHO/UNICEF document Innocenti Declaration for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. The WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least two years, with babies being given no other food or drinks for the first six months.
The Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group aims to support mothers in their breastfeeding journey and increase women’s confidence in their ability to breastfeed. The organisation, which is run by a team of dedicated volunteers, supports mothers through their various counselling support channels. Touchpoints include workshops, mum-to-mum meetups and a telephone line, and have been extended to include Facebook and WhatsApp in recent years, all of which are staffed 365 days a year by volunteer breastfeeding counsellors. As part of the Seeds of Change funding the organisation is offering free Back to Work workshops until the end of the year. These workshops are currently being held online.