• Sweden edition
 
'A new law is not the right formula'

'A new law is not the right formula'

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

Don't miss...X
Left Right

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
Sweden resumes aid to 'anti-gay Uganda'
Hillevi Engström and protesters against Uganda's anti-gay laws. Photos: Maja Suslin/Ben Curtis/TT

Sweden resumes aid to 'anti-gay Uganda'

Sweden has resumed sending development aid funds to Uganda, after suspending payouts back in March due to "anti-gay legislation". READ  

The Local List
Top ten coffee spots in central Stockholm
Fanny feels at home at the Blå Lotus. Photo: Isabela Vrba

Top ten coffee spots in central Stockholm

If you're wondering where to grab your next cappucino, then wonder no more. The Local talked to the locals in Stockholm and found out the best spots in town for the ultimate fika experience. READ  

Swedish neo-Nazis join fight in Ukraine
The Azov task force. Photo: Sergei Chuzavkov/TT

Swedish neo-Nazis join fight in Ukraine

Four Swedes are fighting with the Ukrainian task force Azov - a squad which flies a flag with Nazi symbols and, according to one Swedish soldier, fights for "a white Ukraine". READ  

Swedish elk get one-way ticket to Denmark
The elk in this picture are not the ones that will be sent to Denmark. Photo: The Uppsala Koala

Swedish elk get one-way ticket to Denmark

Up to a dozen elk will be transported from Sweden to Denmark in an effort to help maintain local marshlands. READ  

Sweden worst in EU at getting foreigners jobs
Photo: Henrik Trygg/Imagebank Sweden

Sweden worst in EU at getting foreigners jobs

UPDATED: Swedish citizens are the most likely to be employed in the EU, but Sweden is among the very worst when it comes to getting non-EU citizens into work. READ  

Man arrested for burning partner's face
Photo: Linn Malmén/TT

Man arrested for burning partner's face

Police suspect that a man in western Sweden is responsible for the extreme burns on his partner's face. The man has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault - and potentially attempted murder. READ  

In Pictures: Conchita Wurst in Stockholm
Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

In Pictures: Conchita Wurst in Stockholm

Eurovision winner and LGBTQ idol Conchita Wurst is in Stockholm this week for Stockholm Pride - and joined Swedes at Skansen for a colourful summer sing-along. READ  

Stockholm holds colour contest for new metro
Photo: Joel Bagon

Stockholm holds colour contest for new metro

Stockholm's new metro line is not set for preliminary construction until 2016, and will not be completed until 2022 - but Swedes already have the chance to vote for the new line's colour. READ  

Sweden's heat wave officially over
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Sweden's heat wave officially over

The heat wave that swept over Sweden recently has finally passed, meteorologists reported on Wednesday, promising cooler and more autumnal temperatures around the corner. READ  

Ukraine rebels release kidnapped Swede
Rebel tanks on the road to Horlivka in June. Photo: TT

Ukraine rebels release kidnapped Swede

The Swede who was kidnapped by pro-Russian rebels has been released after nearly three weeks of being held hostage - although no one knows where he is now. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm Pride kicks off
Analysis
The top six ways the US and Sweden differ
National
Swedish youth suicides hit 25-year high
National
Politician reported for selling 'negro ball'
National
Police turn blind eye to Swedish 'slave trade'
Blog updates

27 July

Approaching Stockholm (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I woke up in the comfort of my own little cabin on Eva and Rolf’s boat, it was 7:30am and I was feeling a bit groggy after a couple of beers with all the lovely locals the night before. The previous day had really taken its toll on my body and I was very stiff and..." READ »

 

24 July

Sharing our Pride: Celebrating Love & the LGBT Community! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"It’s mid- July in Stockholm, and with much of the city on vacation, things can seem a little quiet – the streets, the bus, and the grocery store. One thing that has not paused for a summer break, though, is preparation for Stockholm’s Pride Festival, which will take place from July 28 to August 2...." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
Stockholm Pride: Allsång på Skansen with Conchita Wurst
Skatteverket
Sponsored Article
Introducing... ID cards and permits in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching, June 26th - 28th. Get inside Stockholm's hottest nightclubs
Gallery
Top ten Swedish taboos
Society
Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin
Politics
'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'
Society
Swedes voted 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Business & Money
Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
National
Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Society
What's On in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching July 23
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
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

751
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
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:
http://psdmedia.se