• Sweden's news in English
 

'A new law is not the right formula'

Christine Demsteader · 7 Nov 2012, 12:56

Published: 07 Nov 2012 12:56 GMT+01:00

For nine months, I was prodded and poked. As my belly grew bigger my blood pressure got higher. The midwife regularly quizzed me on my eating, sleeping and toilet habits. She compassionately handled my raging hormones and shared tips on relieving my swollen ankles.

As giving birth became ever more imminent, we discussed the finer points of pain relief alongside the joys of parenthood. Physically and emotionally, I was prepared - and I have nothing but praise for the medical professionals in Sweden who helped me bear my firstborn during a pretty hassle-free labour.

Over the course of those nine hours I was once again prodded and poked. Soon after my son’s primal scream into Sweden he was - immediately and without consultation - plonked on my breast to feed. It worked and there he stayed put for the best part of the three-day stay on the labour ward.

But he was a big lad - over four kilos and a born feeder. My balloon-sized breasts couldn’t keep up with his demands. And that kept us awake all night. Exhausted and exasperated, I asked for help and was given a breast pumping gadget and some random instructions.

But then it happened. In the early hours, with a crying baby in my arms I found a stash of formula and a microwave, seemingly hidden from view and certainly not talked about.

At no point during my pregnancy was I asked how I wanted to feed my baby. The pros and cons of breast versus formula were not up for discussion. I was advised to attend a breastfeeding demo at the health centre where a stern Swedish nurse informed me that nipple cream was of no use.

Like most other mothers-to-be, I had of course read up on the subject and referred to my largely loaned library of baby bibles. My decision was just to go with the flow, provided there was any, and feed as I saw fit.

If you can breast-feed, Sweden offers a haven of privacy, even in public. No one bats an eye when a mother whips out a boob to feed their baby, be it on a park bench, a bus or, my personal favourite, down the frozen vegetable aisle in the supermarket.

Yet Sweden makes a failure of mothers that can’t. Formula is as poo-poo’ed as a freshly filled nappy. Midwives will encourage the try-again method until mums shed more tears than their child and the only thing the doctor can prescribe to cure mastitis is a dose of antidepressants.

Sweden is, however, a beacon for the World Health Organisation’s recommendation on breastfeeding. The percentage of babies that are breast-fed for the first six months hits the high nineties here.

But providing those bodily-brewed nutrients comes at an unhealthy cost to the many mothers in Sweden who simply can’t produce.

Regardless, they often succumb to the pressure of the medical profession’s one-way philosophy that breast is best. Choice is rarely even a factor.

Sweden hasn’t found the right formula when it comes to finding a middle ground on breastfeeding.

What doesn’t add up is news of a prospective law to ensure milk of the powdered variety is used in the “right way.”

Instead of adding a legislative proposal as such it would perhaps be better to start taking away the guilt felt by mothers in Sweden that fail to breast-feed.

Christine Demsteader (christine.demsteader@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

17:51 November 7, 2012 by skogsbo
Well the breast seems to have worked for the ladt how many tens of 1000s of years!
19:48 November 7, 2012 by caitnor
Thank you for writing this. I totally agree. Formula is already stigmatized so much. A fear of restricting it further is that mom's will turn to the widely accepted: välling too early. As to the comment that the breast seems to have worked for the last 1000s of years, yes as a species that is true, but that is little consolation to moms and dads who lost babies due to milk not coming in and other complications of breastfeeding. Formula has saved many lives and is a fantastic alternative to breastfeeding in that it is the only other thing that babies consistently thrive on (as opposed to cow's milk, goat's milk, etc..). If you can't or don't want to breastfeed exclusively formula should be readily available. The one thing that is nice about this proposed law is to make the instructions more clear about proper handling. This might save babies from getting sick when it is not used properly. Hopefully it will not lead to moms making themselves sick or starving their children because they feel that formula is bad.
21:10 November 8, 2012 by dizzymoe33
@skogsbo

There are many women who are not able to breastfeed so they have no choice but to use formula instead.

It should be the mothers choice and no one else's business whether she breast feeds or uses formula. Yes the baby receives the anti-bodies from the mother's milk but a woman shouldn't be ridiculed or prosecuted because she is not breast feeding.

This whole thing is so stupid there are more important things to worry about than breastfeeding or not!!
13:11 November 9, 2012 by terriergirl
Formula has its place. Breastfeeding should not be used as a stick to beat new mothers with but it often is. In the UK, hospitals try to boost breastfeeding rates in order to win the UNICEF Baby Friendly award. Often this is at the mothers' expense as little attention is paid when babies fail to breastfeed in, my experience.

I was vilified when my son failed to latch on and didn't breastfeed. The hospital then the National Childbirth Trust provided bullying rather than help (also a lot of ill-informed nonsense about my son becoming asthmatic if he was given a bottle - seriously!). I was made to feel a bad mother. However, my son thrives.

However, a year later I successfully breastfed twins. Not such a bad mother! Twins also thrive.

I think it worked better that time mainly because I was determined to do things my own way.

Mothers should make their own informed choices. Breastfeeding is not the be all and end all of parenting.
19:15 November 9, 2012 by Kitwisdom
The vast majority of women (around 98% I've read in studies) can breastfeed. There are very specific reasons why a mother can't. Check out what kellymom has to say: http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/insufficient-glandular-tissue/

That said, when I first became a mom, I wish someone had told me how HARD breastfeeding is. I am glad that I had someone to tell me that it gets better. And it did. But at first, constant eating, constant crying, painful nipples, even clogged ducts are normal. Sleep was few and far between and I remember feeling desperate, but am so glad now I kept with it.

That said, I think this law is pretty silly. What is more important is education and support. In the United States, women frequently go to lactation consultants to help in the early days. The most help I had was a midwife who literally grabbed my boob and shoved it in my baby's face. I do know that La Leche League is starting meetings here soon, which I think will be a godsend to a lot of new mothers out there.
02:18 November 10, 2012 by BackpackerKev
While breastfeeding is good for the baby, my problem is that Sweden is under the impression that laws are there to enforce opinions onto people and secondary for the safety or greater good of the country and its citizens.

What little freedom we have is slowly being taken away by limiting our choice of options and conforming to regulations that say we must do it a certain way.
16:56 November 10, 2012 by oledeluca
Without getting strident on the breast-feeding issue, it's important to realize that often times infants need to be fed when disaster strikes. At those time formula and food are not readily available. These can be due to storms, political action, tectonic activity, etc..

At those times, it is helpful to realize that mothers can feed them in times of need and reduce their stress often long enough so that they can survive. Adults and children can usually go up to 30 days or slightly more with only water. Infants about 4 days. At those times, the mothers do not need to be helpless as their infant slowly starves.
21:29 November 10, 2012 by skogsbo
isn't parenting about doing the very best for the child, not the line of least resistance.

Besides you can feed anywhere, any time, plus no cleaning, shopping or sterilising required, less clutter to carry around too.
17:13 November 11, 2012 by Grokh
breast is best only if the mother isnt a smoker, drinker etc how can they say its best when they dont know what the mother puts in their body that directly goes to the baby?
22:37 November 11, 2012 by smbd
Breastmilk Stem Cells: It's not just food. By Hilary Butler

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 06:59 AM PDT

Interestingly, in my 30 years of working with parents of children who have been damaged after vaccines, by far the worst damage I've ever seen, was in formula-fed children. It's [...]
04:06 November 13, 2012 by Ted Greiner
While I don't condone any unkindness to individual women, I strongly applaud the Swedish commitment to breastfeeding. The UK to a larger extent lacks this, and this is likely the main basis for Demsteader's discomfort.

The best sign of a breastfeeding friendly culture, clearly seen to anyone who has spent time in Africa, is that breastfeeding is ignored. Breastfeeding is normal and requires intervention/assistance only when something goes wrong--just like for all other normal bodily functions.

Demsteader also ignores the fact that Sweden provides the support women need to succeed in breastfeeding (for example a long period of paid maternity leave). Without this, pressure to breastfeed (which I believe in Sweden is more perceived than real) is of course nonconstructive and risks blaming the victim.

Demsteader is simply incorrect to say that many women cannot breastfeed. Indeed, more women deliver babies addicted to alcohol or other drugs than are "unable" to breast feed. To avoid making those women feel guilty, should public health officials avoid saying anything about their addictions?

Like having an addicted mother, the simple truth is that formula feeding puts babies at increased risk of disease and death. Two recent estimates for the USA in pediatric journals put it at 700-900 babies per year who die from something that would not have killed them if they'd been breastfeeding. Either figure makes formula feeding the 7th highest cause of infant mortality there. It's so frustrating that most modern societies base most relevant policies on a false assumption that formula feeding is "safe" or even more or less equivalent to breastfeeding.

Avoiding making women who don't breast feed feel guilty is simply not among the tasks of public health professionals or policy makers. All of us parents, each time we make choices that are bad for our children, have to cope with our own guilt. Do we really want governments that take on THAT role? Just for the sake of the
15:55 November 18, 2012 by wakeupdummy
love it, parenting is 'what's doing what is right for the child' when you are a woman, when you are a man, it is about being part of a unit called a family where everyone's rights and opinions are valued and taken into consideration. A woman's breasts are her business - she alone decides.
Today's headlines
Underarm hair post gets Swedes in a tangle
Ida Nygren Hansson was shocked when a friend confided that her daughter had asked for help to shave under her arms. File photo: Communist Casino/Flickr

Underarm hair post gets Swedes in a tangle

24 minutes ago

A Swedish woman’s outraged Facebook post about her friend’s 12-year-old daughter being pressured to shave under her arms has gone viral.

Video
Avicii in 'violent' video push against trafficking
A screenshot of the 'For a Better Day' video.

Avicii in 'violent' video push against trafficking

1 hour ago

Swedish house DJ Avicii has turned his attention to fighting child trafficking and made his debut as a director with a pair of disturbing videos.

Teen who 'joined Isis' returns to Sweden
Isis fighters seen here in the Anbar province, Iraq. Photo: Ritsaiph/Wikicommons

Teen who 'joined Isis' returns to Sweden

3 hours ago

A teenage boy who disappeared from southern Sweden in the spring and is thought to have joined Isis (Islamic State), has returned to Sweden.

Refugee crisis
'Refugees welcome' rally set for Swedish capital
A Refugees Welcome rally in Dresden, Germany, last month. Photo: Jens Meyer/TT

'Refugees welcome' rally set for Swedish capital

4 hours ago

UPDATED: More than 15,000 people have shown their support for refugees by signing up for a rally in Stockholm this weekend as charity donations smash records in Sweden.

Russia blocks Sweden from Chagall art loan
Chagall paintings on display in Paris in 2013. Photo: Remy de la Mauviniere/TT/AP

Russia blocks Sweden from Chagall art loan

3 hours ago

Russia has blocked Sweden from borrowing Marc Chagall paintings for an upcoming exhibition of the artist's work, the Millesgården Museum in Stockholm has announced, as a diplomatic dispute continued between the two countries.

Refugee crisis
How to help refugees if you live in Sweden
Asylum seekers in Halmstad, Sweden earlier this year. Photo: Anders Andersson/TT

How to help refugees if you live in Sweden

21 hours ago

As images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a Turkish beach spark debate around the world, The Local looks at some of the ways you can help refugees if you live in Sweden, which is continuing to take in more asylum seekers than any other EU nation.

The Local Recipes
How to make Swedish apple pie with a twist
Apple meringue pie. Photo: John Duxbury

How to make Swedish apple pie with a twist

4 hours ago

This apple pudding offers an unusual take on a traditional Swedish dish with its tasty meringue crust. Food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe with The Local.

'Sexist' underwear posters spark heated row
The posters on the Stockholm subway. Photo: The Local

'Sexist' underwear posters spark heated row

18 hours ago

Calvin Klein's latest underwear campaign has got Swedes in a sweat, with some turning to the country's advertising watchdog to complain that the posters are sexist and should not be shown on Stockholm's subway.

Refugee crisis
Donations up as asylum levels reach record
Refugees examining donated clothes. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Donations up as asylum levels reach record

1 day ago

UPDATED: More than ten thousand people applied for asylum in Sweden in August – the highest figure in a decade. Meanwhile, volunteer organizations are reporting being flooded with donations for refugees as heartbreaking pictures emerge from the growing crisis.

Sweden keeps record negative interest rate
Riksbank head Stefan Ingves. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Sweden keeps record negative interest rate

1 day ago

UPDATED: Sweden's central bank (the Riksbank) is keeping its key interest rate, the repo, at a record low of -0.35 percent.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

National
Do you know which song was Sweden's biggest summer hit?
National
Who is Sweden's secret anti-immigration blogger?
Gallery
People-watching: September 2nd
National
VIDEO: Swedish longboarder builds dreams with viral film
National
Hairy Swedish knickers on display
Blog updates

28 August

Editor’s blog, August 28th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, It was all glitz and glamour in Sweden this week as Stockholm Fashion Week got..." READ »

 

18 August

Preteritum eller presens perfekt? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hello everyone, It’s grammar time ! I got an interesting question about the past tense vs present..." READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
'It gives you the guts to believe in yourself'
National
Swedish billionaire blasted for 'lonely' Twitter rant
Sponsored Article
Nine places where Stockholm needs more English
Gallery
Property of the week: Stuverum, Västervik
National
Swedish ship rescues 5,295 refugees
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
National
'Sweden Democrats will run the country'
Gallery
People-watching: August 28th-30th
National
Swedish bin men hailed as heroes after rescuing doomed kitten
National
This Swedish teen was told she was 'too big' to be a model
Gallery
People-watching: August 26th
National
Rescued baby lemur gets new Stockholm home
National
Stockholm Fashion Week turns island into Mars
Gallery
Property of the week: Stora Essingen, Stockholm
National
Swedish crayfish thieves caught red handed by officers
National
Veil soon to be lifted on new Millennium sequel novel
Gallery
People-watching: August 21st - 22nd
Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se
Presented by Stockholm Academic Forum
International students welcomed to Stockholm
National
The Bridge: What does the third season have in store?
National
Lucky escape for Swedes after 'dead' bear launches attack
National
Syrian asylum seeker comic: 'We don't prefer Sweden any more'
Lifestyle
Baby joy for Swedish crime queen and her wrestler boyfriend
National
Soldier accused of faking first Isis attack in Sweden
National
Fire alert as Sweden sizzles in summer heatwave
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th
National
Meet the Swede who is crazy for Norway’s mass killer
National
Swede's review of night in drunk tank goes viral
National
VIDEO: Swedish teen melts hearts with this incredible Idol audition
Society
What's a Swedish crayfish party?
National
UN: Sweden can't be left to shoulder migrant crisis alone
Gallery
Property of the week: Skogås, Huddinge
National
Men outstrip women for first time
Society
IN PICTURES: Wooden town resembles 'war zone' after huge fire
Gallery
People-watching: August 14th-16th
Sport
Swedish referee shuts viral Facebook page explaining his decisions
Business & Money
A studio in Stockholm or a castle in the countryside?
National
How did twelve skeletons end up beneath a Swedish castle?
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th
National
Millennium sequel author labelled 'grave robber'
National
Two metre long python stops traffic in Malmö
Sponsored Article
Getting pregnant the Swedish way
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,211
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se