It’s the last day of World Breastfeeding Week, and I thought I would write about some of my experiences in breastfeeding in Singapore. I hope to support breastfeeding mothers in Singapore and to encourage those who are considering it or struggling with it.
My family and I first moved to Singapore from the Philippines in 2005. At the time, my husband and I had in tow a 5-year-old daughter and a 5-month-old son. My son was exclusively breastfed since birth and I had every intention of continuing to breastfeed him for as long as possible.
The Blessing of Nursing Rooms in Malls and Public Areas
I was so grateful to quickly discover that many of the big malls in Singapore, especially in the Orchard Road Area, had nursing rooms. I remember that the nursing room in Paragon was quite fancy and very comfortable, and the one in Takashimaya was spacious and popular (I’d seen other moms and babies when I was there). Having easy access to nursing rooms while I was out was a huge blessing for me. I was able to breastfeed and comfort my baby in peace even while we were out window shopping.
The Challenge of Breastfeeding without Shame
My main challenge in breastfeeding then was having to do so in public places such as the trains. There were times when my baby cried inconsolably while we were on a 15-20 minute train ride to our stop. While ignoring a few anxious or disapproving stares from nearby passengers, I would put on my nursing cover and breastfeed right there. Perhaps I was lucky to have done this in an Asian country where most people would show their disapproval of a stranger’s behavior with their eyes and not with their mouths (I’ve seen videos of people in the United States shaming mothers for breastfeeding in public). Thankfully, I usually had my husband with me and his presence helped to assure me that I was doing the right thing. But with or without him around, I would have breastfed my baby in public anyway.
It is now 2016. Especially compared to a country like the Philippines, I still don’t see many babies in Singapore. And I haven’t seen any other mother breastfeed in public, apart from those in nursing rooms. I hope that there are many mothers in Singapore who are breastfeeding their babies and toddlers, whether in the comforts of their home or in the company of strangers in a public place. Breastfeeding is about trying to give your infant the best possible nourishment, and doing so in public is about putting your child’s needs first.
I just did a quick search online for “breastfeeding in the train in Singapore,” and I discovered this on SMRT’s FAQ page:
For the comfort of other passengers, it is best to feed your children before entering the station. But we understand a hungry child needs to be fed, and we can make special arrangements for you within our station premises. Please approach our staff for assistance.
I hope that breastfeeding gains more support and understanding in Singapore from mothers and their families, from the government and the rest of society.