The Singapore mums who proudly advocate breastfeeding in public
Meet the administrators of the Breastfeeding Mums Support Group, right here in Singapore!
Breastfeeding in public Singapore: This is a topic that has seen plenty of debate over time. Before anything, let’s make one thing clear. It is not against the law to breastfeed in public in Singapore.
According to the Singapore Police Force, “It is not an offence to breastfeed in public if the woman is decently clad and she does not expose her breast more than is necessary to breastfeed her child.”
So then why is breastfeeding in public in Singapore still stigmatised? Take the case of the young women who shamed a Singapore mum nursing in public a few years ago, calling her “gross” and asking to to go to a toilet to feed her baby. Or the mum who was nursing her baby in public transport and was publicly shamed.
Amidst all this shaming, there are those who advocate all breastfeeding matters — including nursing in public — right here in Singapore. They do this with quiet determination, and they have been doing it for years.
There is a group of mothers in Singapore closely bonded by one common passion: breastfeeding. They are also the tireless administrators of a popular breastfeeding support group on Facebook — Breastfeeding Mums Support Group Singapore.
These mums have, for many years, dedicated their time and effort to support thousands of breastfeeding mummies in Singapore in all matters related to nursing.
When it comes breastfeeding matters, these ladies do more than give support to breastfeeding mums. They are also fierce and strong advocates of nursing in public.
This is why we thought of asking the admins of the Breastfeeding Mums group for their expert tips and advice on breastfeeding in public Singapore!
Collectively, this group of ladies have over a decade of nursing in public experience! Without a doubt, their advice is solid and useful.
Here are their best tips, especially for you!
An important factor in breastfeeding in public, is the kind of clothes you wear. But instead of the standard button-down shirt, check out these innovative clothing “solutions” these resourceful mummies use and recommend.
Jasmine Steve, Suhana Laila, Kaiting Leong and Joan Kit Sum Wong are all advocates of the “layered clothing” method.
As Suhana explains, this simply involves the following steps:
1. Wear a nursing/tank top under a T-shirt or sheer blouse.
2. Pull up outer shirt.
3. Pull down tank top cup.
4. Latch baby and nurse!
Jasmine tells us that you can also wear a tube top inside, instead of a tank top: “When you want to nurse, pull the top up and the tube down! Nothing much to show then.”
Lynette Tan, Kailin Ng, Seha Salleh and Mary Goh suggest that mums shy about nursing in public could also try breastfeeding baby in a “soft, structured carrier or ring sling.” Lynette explains that this method is, “extremely discreet and you can still get stuff done while baby tanks up.”
Seha suggests that Muslim mums simply use their headscarf as a nursing cover — in her words, “easy peasy!”
Lynn Ng, meanwhile, says, “I don’t believe in being TOO discreet. I personally feel that if you are confident enough, you should be proud of the fact that you are successfully latching, and be visible so that breastfeeding is normalised. So my advice would be, be confident.”
She suggests that you practice on a chair in front of a mirror, so that you can see for yourself how much exposure really happens (not too much at all, she says). Lynn further encourages new mums to learn about their own comfort levels and to go with what works for them.
Unfortunately, some of these supermums have encountered people who have issues with breastfeeding in public. But clearly, they chose the wrong women to pick on.
We just LOVE how Jasmine handled a nosy Aunty one day:
“Baby fussing in MRT. Aunty ask, your baby breastfeed one ah? Yes aunty, breastfeed. Oh, breastfeed cannot feed outside, have to go home. Aunty, you also cannot eat outside leh, you have to tabao home and eat. Roll eyes walk away. Leave aunty speechless!”
Lynette is lucky enough to have avoided any nasty comments so far while nursing in public. But this feisty mum thinks she knows the reason why! Here’s what she told us:
“I have nursed my son in four countries and not that discreetly either I might add. No one has even glared at me. But that said, my resting bitch face might play a big role!”
It’s not just outright nasty comments that mums nursing in public sometimes have to face. You also get those well-meaning, but misguided people who try to be “helpful.” Such an incident happened to Suhana once:
“Thankfully, I have not encountered any unpleasantness when nursing in public. But I have had polite, well-meaning people directing me to the nearest nursing room.
“One incident I remember was in the waiting room of a BFHI-certified hospital in Singapore, where I was waiting to be seen. We were nursing openly (no nursing covers) and a nurse very helpfully came up to me and said they have a nursing room right around the corner. I smiled and said thank you, but we are fine where we are.”
Kaiting and Lynn, on the other hand, have nursed in many countries around the world and have only received encouragement and support. It’s safe to say we wish this could be the standard for all breastfeeding mums.
Lynn shares this useful tip: “I try to nod and smile at people sitting close by [while breastfeeding in public]. Eye contact helps, I think.”
Meanwhile Kailin explains, “Staying in a more conservative Islam country (Malaysia) I tend to be a little more careful with where I choose to breastfeed and how much is exposed,” showing that cultural sensitivity is also a factor when nursing in public.
Seha has been at the receiving end of comments and stares, explaining that she got “stares and remarks from relatives and public when I’m still nursing my three-year-old girl.” She didn’t let that stop her, though, saying “But it didn’t affect me at all. My baby, my way!”
The beauty of nursing your baby means you can nourish him or her wherever in the world you are. Let’s just say that some cultures and people are more tolerant than others. This is what happened to Joan when she was breastfeeding in public in London:
“I was at a restaurant. A grey hair lady stared at me and was talking about me nursing my two-year-old with her girl friends, who were exposing their boobs more than me, actually. I stared back and her lady friends said that I was looking at them. Almost went up to ask her whether my boobs looked better or her friends’ boobs looked better!”
It takes a village to raise a child. And it certainly takes plenty of support and encouragement to breastfeed in public — especially if you are conscious about it. That’s why the admins of Breastfeeding Mums Singapore have got your back.
Here are their beautiful words of support, especially for you:
Jasmine: [Tell yourself], “I need to provide food for my baby. Nothing else matters!”
Lynette: “Practice at home (if nursing in carrier) beforehand. Then just get out there and do it. It may feel strange or embarrassing the first few times, but actually hardly anyone will notice! Also practice or have a retort prepared for if someone comes up to you to say anything nasty. It is highly highly unlikely, but just in the event it happens, you won’t be caught off guard and not know what to do. It is very natural and necessary! Not their baby, not their boob, not their business!“
Suhana: “Latch baby and nurse!”
Kaiting: “Just do it. When you do, then you realise it’s really not as hard as you think it is.”
Lynn: “Find a group of experienced breastfeeding mums to support you, make it clear to your family that you would like to do so and ask for their support, and take baby steps. Try with your supportive friends around first, in the corner of a quiet cafe or restaurant, then slowly level up!”
“Start when baby is newborn: they will be small and less mobile. Once they are a few months old, they will start kicking, tugging off your clothes, or unlatching because they heard something interesting, it would be a very tricky time to attempt to breastfeed in public!”
Kailin: “The beginning would be a little hard. I started nursing openly at home, without a cover. Then proceeded into doing it outdoors because it just became so natural. So to all you first time moms, be confident. You are just doing what you need to! If you get judged for that, they are the problem not you.”
Seha: “Don’t bother about what people say, we know we are giving the best to our babies. Who says breastfeeding is about exposing, Muslim mummies can confidently latch in public under your big headscarves. Its so convenient too. Practice makes perfect.”
Mary: “Actually it is not as scary as you might think to nurse in public and support from hubby will help a lot.”
Joan: “Just do it. Baby comes first. Everyone got breasts (man or woman). If they are so ashamed of other moms breastfeeding, they perhaps need to take a serious look of themselves.”
Our heartfelt thanks go out to these supermummies for dedicating their time and effort as admins of the Breastfeeding Mums group. More power to you!
If you or a friend would also like the support of the breastfeeding mums in Singapore tribe, you can request to join the group here.
“Breastfeeding in public Singapore” should not have to be a term that is linked with shame or secrecy. Be very proud of yourselves, breastfeeding mums! Through the act of nursing, you are nurturing, you are loving and you are feeding. Remember that always.