SINGAPORE — On 12th October 2021, in conjunction with the Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, theAsianparent, Southeast Asia’s largest content and community platform for parents, commemorated the first anniversary of Project Sidekicks, theAsianparent’s corporate social responsibility initiative that aims to raise awareness around stillbirth in SEA and promote real action to support families through their pregnancy journey, by hosting a region-wide webinar series in six countries—Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam—on the topics of pregnancy health habits, post-pregnancy recovery, and coping with pregnancy loss.
In Singapore, the event welcomed Minister of State (MOS) Sun Xueling from the Ministry of Social and Family Development and Ministry of Education as the keynote speaker. An advocate of family regulations, MOS Sun delivered a moving speech on the importance of rendering support to affected parents of stillborn children and enumerated some key initiatives that the government launched this year to support Singaporeans on their pregnancy and parenthood journey.
MOS Sun said, “One mother had told me that her baby, a stillborn, was like any other baby, except that her baby had gone straight to heaven. I recall that very vividly because it went straight to my heart, and I don’t think it was something I’d ever forget. It is with that in mind that in August this year, the Singapore government had amended the Child Development Co-Savings Act to better support parents of stillborn children. The amendment allows working parents of a stillborn child to benefit from government paid leave, as well as maternity and paternity leave and shared parental leave. This move would help support parents who would have undergone the trauma of a stillbirth. It would give them time, space, help to recover physically and emotionally during such a difficult period of their lives.”
Apart from benefit schemes for parents of stillborn Singaporean children abovementioned, MOS Sun also highlighted the revised definition of stillbirth by the new Registration of Births and Deaths Act, which states that a stillbirth is one delivered after the 22nd week of pregnancy and not after the 28th week as previously defined. “Through this amendment, we hope that more parents can be supported in terms of Government paid leave and benefits. We all know that parents struggle after the loss of a child, including after stillbirth. It is gut wrenching to send off a young child, a baby, and the grief can have many downstream effects. MOS Sun also added that “Families need time to recover and they need support from those who are around them. It is also important for us as a community to see how we can render them care and support during these difficult times, to help them recover from their grief and their loss. It is thus crucial to raise awareness on the importance of maternal health, to reduce the likelihood of stillbirths, and at the same time strengthen our support for families who have gone through this traumatic experience.”
“We are also incredibly proud our government has done its part and has made tremendous progress in helping to ease the suffering of parents who have suffered a stillbirth or a pregnancy loss and provide them with the time and the space to heal and to return to daily life in a healthier way,” noted theAsianparent Group CEO and Founder Roshni Mahtani-Cheung, who considered the legislative amendments as not only a win for Singaporean parents, but as a win as well for Project Sidekicks. theAsianparent’s CSR initiative not only aims to raise awareness around stillbirth, but to also effect change across the SEA region by standardising the definition of stillbirth as one delivered after 24 weeks in order to provide better leaves and benefits to affected parents.
In a message she delivered to webinar guests, Ms. Mahtani-Cheung shared the driving reason behind Project Sidekicks: “Here at theAsianparent, our mission has always been about making better parents, better children, and through that a better tomorrow. Amongst parents, there are many of us in this quest to make a better tomorrow, and some of us would have suffered tremendous losses along the way such as stillbirths and miscarriages. Those stories of parents who lost a child inspired me to put our mission into gear—that beyond helping our millions of mothers to become better mothers to raise better children, we also need to care for those who have suffered losses and we need to do our part as an organization to prevent it. In Southeast Asia, 286 babies are born still everyday. While for two-third of this the causes are unknown and preventable, there are some easy and simple things we can do to help lower the risk and just have an overall healthier pregnancy. We have distilled it down to three main actions for all pregnant women. The first one is do not smoke. The second one is sleep on your side. The third one is to count your kicks. And, thus, Project Sidekicks was born in its namesake.”
Since launched, Project Sidekicks has achieved the following in the quest to raise awareness around stillbirth:
- built a Kick Counter to help pregnant users of theAsianaprent app to track foetal movements; and has logged in 9 million kicks from the app’s community
- supported 28 thousand parents who experienced child loss through Healing Mode, a 16-week physical and emotional recovery guide on theAsianparent app
- produced over 200 articles, 100 videos, and one thousand creatives and infographics distributed across the region about lowering the risk of stillbirth
- Hosted 35 webinars on pregnancy health with a collective 150 thousand views
- 82 partners from medical associations and brands to parent influencers to spread the initiative’s 3 key messages of sleeping on the side, counting kicks, and not smoking
theAsianparent’s webinar was hosted and moderated by Nadine Yap, Chief Product Officer at theAsianparent, and featured panel speakers in the medical profession—Dr. Tan Eng Loy, OB/GYN at E K and E L Women’s Clinic, and Dr. Geraldine Tan, principal psychologist at The Therapy Room Singapore—who discussed key health habits to follow during and after pregnancy, and how to cope should a pregnancy loss occur.
The webinar also launched Project Sidekicks’ official video, “A letter to Hope, a message of hope,” featuring the mascot, Hope the Penguin, to send a powerful message about finding hope in the midst of grief.
“This journey has been an incredible one for us, but we’ve barely started even though we’ve done a lot this last one year. The journey is long and we are here to ask for your help once again. You can extend your help in some simple ways. Be our ambassador. Help us spread the word to lower the risk of a stillbirth and how to have a healthier pregnancy. If you’re part of an organisation with a larger reach and have a larger way to distribute this message, please speak to us,” Ms. Mahtani-Cheung implored. “This is also about those who have suffered loss. So if you do know somebody who has gone through the loss of a child and is willing to share their story, that would be an incredible way for someone else who is suffering this loss at this moment, just knowing that someone else is going through it, has gone through it, has survived, and they’re not alone. They would be able to also hopefully get over, come back, and give them hope, most importantly. And this would help our grieving mothers a lot.”
To sign up as a partner or ambassador of Project Sidekicks, interested organisations and individuals may visit https://project-sidekicks.com/.
View the official video of Project Sidekicks, “A letter of Hope, a message of hope,” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nls8YoyQNxw.