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Left Party's Ohly rebuked for 'breast pump' advice

The Local · 6 Sep 2010, 15:22

Published: 06 Sep 2010 15:22 GMT+02:00

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The Left Party stands for a policy of dividing parental leave equally between parents - meaning around seven months of paid leave each. Currently couples have 60 allocated days each with the remaining 270 days divided freely.

The party has not managed to impose the requirement on its Red-Green coalition partners, the Social Democrats and Green Party - despite their respective party members also being in favour - as it was deemed to lack support among parents and the wider electorate.

But despite the fact that the centre-left trio's joint election manifesto does not include the demand, Ohly took the opportunity of Sunday evening's party leader cross-examination on Sveriges Television (SVT) to push the case for the introduction of legally stipulated quotas.

Ohly recommended the use of a breast milk pump to address any problems of the mother not having finished breastfeeding the child prior to handing over the parental ropes to her partner.

"I was home with each of my children for eight months. My ex-wife used a breast pump, one of those modern tools that exist which... meant that it worked very well to enable me to continue to give my children breast milk. That still works today, as far as I understand," Lars Ohly said.

Ohly's comments raised ripples of laughter in the studio and became something of a talking point in the mainstream and social media on Monday. Green Party spokesperson and mother of two, Maria Wetterstrand, was not as amused.

"I am not going to have any opinions on whether people should use a breast pump or not. I don't think it is of interest for voters," she said to news agency TT.

Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin rejected the assertion that Ohly's comments should be interpreted as a political manoeuvre to raise the profile of the issue.

"It was no manoeuvre, it was a less clever way of answering a question," Sahlin told TT.

Anna Herting at breastfeeding advice service Amningshjälpen told The Local on Monday that the proposal is hardly practical if the child is still breastfeeding full time.

"If the woman wants to go back to work, and the family want to carry on with breast milk, then it would require a flexible employer to allow the working mother to pump out her milk and transport it home during the day."

When asked whether a mother could pump out sufficient milk in the evening to be used the following day, Herting replied:

"She would need that milk to feed the child in the evening, and using a breast pump can be problematic for many women."

Story continues below…

Lars Ohly on Monday morning also seemed to distance himself from his breast pump comments.

"I think that most women are okay with finishing breastfeeding after five or six months," Ohly said on SVT's God morgon programme, a comment which has drawn further criticism.

"It is not for a politician, but for every family, to decide how long to breastfeed. It has to depend on the family's situation," Anna Herting told The Local.

Herting explained that Swedish recommendations are for full-time breastfeeding for six months and then part-time for the remainder of the year, but that the choice has to belong to the families themselves on what is best for all parties.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

21:50 September 6, 2010 by spo10
easy for you to say Mr. Lars Ohly
00:09 September 7, 2010 by Raiha
When will men learn to shut their mouths about things they know nothing about and will never have the personal experience of? In this man's case, his evidence comes from one sample: his wife. Because all women and their breasts are alike?

I'm waiting with baited breath for Ohly to name his wife's brand of sanitary pad to educate us on what's easy, and best for women.

And it's ludicrous mandating the exact split of maternal leave. Are people too stupid to decide for themselves, or does the govt just think they are?
00:45 September 7, 2010 by Canada_Girl
@ Raiha - Haha. Great comment. I too like when inexperienced people make remarks with nothing to back up their "learned" claims with. When it comes to female bodies - be it reproduction/fertility, weight/height, PMS, etc, etc. - men should stfu.
05:39 September 7, 2010 by millionmileman
Think about it, women who return to work earlier will pay more taxes so people on welfare can "Suck at the trough!"
07:38 September 7, 2010 by wabasha
I like his plan... and wet nurses can be hired to create jobs! you see men can solve any problem.
07:39 September 7, 2010 by flintis
@ put the gadget on Ohly's ears & suck out what's left of his tiny brain.
07:52 September 7, 2010 by rugla
It shows how little intellect and education it takes for a moron like Ohly to become a political leader in my beloved country! They are a party of imbeciles, the scary factor is that they actually vote for people like him Mona and the rest of the Red Green party!
09:26 September 7, 2010 by Kevin Harris
This has just been hacked from a laptop belonging to a senior member of the Left Party:

……Party Directive number 0177 …….

Women become less productive when breast feeding. This issue will be resolved by Left Party Directive Number 0177 by which the party will establish a communal pool of breast milk for the feeding of babies up to 12 months.

From now on, all pregnant women are to report to a party office during the third trimester, where they will be assessed for breast milk production. Assessment will be by way of visual and tactile inspection of both breasts by an appointed party assessor. A sliding scale will be employed; those with large breasts will be expected to contribute more than those with small ones. All breast milk must, from now on be extracted by pumps, issued on loan by the party for this purpose only. Expressed breast milk must be delivered to the nearest party office, from where it will be sent to the central breast milk depot for storage and distribution.

Left Party comrades are exempt from this directive. Breast feeding mothers held by the Party to be insufficiently infused with Left Party spirit, will not receive breast milk under this directive, but must contribute to it nonetheless.
12:14 September 7, 2010 by Audrian
Infants and mothers have been under attack by baby formula companies for over four decades. They advertised (lied) that baby formula was better than breast milk and parents bought it. Subsequent research showed the benefits of breast milk, e.g., protection against infections, prevention of certain caners, bonding, prevention of obesity. In 1980s women gained marginal success with WHO/UNICEF recommending exclusive breastfeeding for six months. All most all countries of the world have adopted this recommendation, even though the ideal period for exclusive breastfeeding is about one year. Now milk pump companies are added in the fray (even though their destructive effect cannot be as much as baby formula companies). In the US a very large number of bribed politicians continue to side formula companies. Result: Exclusive breastfeeding in the US is only 2%. Exclusive breastfeeding in Sweden has shown a decline from 60% in the 1980s to 40% today because of the growing power of baby formula companies.

I wonder why Lars Ohly (left party) was thinking when he made the above mentioned statement in favor of breast milk pump.
15:28 September 7, 2010 by calebian22
Canada girl,

When did not knowing diddly about something stop women from "shutting tfu" about things that they know nothing about? Apparently some women don't like men all that much either, hmm, Canada Girl? That sounds vaguely familiar doesn't it?

By the way, my wife did precisely what Ohly suggested. She used a breast pump so that our daughter could have breast milk when I was home with her. Maybe my wife should stfu also?
17:25 September 7, 2010 by Mack
I think the point here is that who stays home and how they feed their infants should be the choice of parents and not dictated by the state. Enough said.
17:56 September 7, 2010 by Raiha

What's your problem? We're not here debating what it feels like to have an erection. We're discussing a statement made by a man with no personal experience of breastfeeding, and his frankly ridiculous sweeping generalisation. Add in your wife, that's two samples in a world population of gee, 3.5 billion women? No, she most certainly shouldn't STFU, but her opinion would be more valid than yours in this particular instance.

This to me, is another blatant example of Sweden's perpetual gender equality myth: that the biological differences between men and women are immaterial. That it's somehow better for a baby to have a latex teat full of breast milk than a human nipple, just so the father can develop a relationship with his child that he would naturally have anyway. As a man. Not a surrogate nanny.

@Audrian: Agreed about formula which is why no Nestle product ever goes in my shopping trolley. Formula (and disposable napies) should be the very last resort.

@Mack: Precisely!
13:50 September 8, 2010 by Uncle
I like discussions about boobs.

Then one can write "boobs" and it will be related to the topic.

14:06 September 8, 2010 by americanska
Audrian is such a joke - always brings the US into any tread and just completly makes things up. Fact is there are many more stay at home moms in the USA because people can afford it - this means that are more women breastfeeding in the USA than in Europe.

That is probably why we went to the moon while you went dance band concerts.
14:38 September 8, 2010 by flintis
I remember being on a bus with my mother & women were breast feeding, both my mum & aunties breast fed their offspring at home & when out shopping etc.

There is nothing abnormal or indecent about a women breast feeding her children. So come on ladies make the babies healthy & happy, get feeding where ever you may be.
08:23 September 9, 2010 by calebian22

My problem, is that you and Canada girl don't think men can have an opinion regarding anything biologically female. Apparently you two are the voice of 3.5 billion women. People of your ilk are the first to scream about people making generalizations while doing precisely the same thing as a defense against said generalizations. The only reason Ohly should have kept his opinion to himself is because man haters like you two just can't stand hearing a potentially good idea posited by anyone other than a woman if it relates to women issues. Should women not listen to a male ob gyn either or should they also stfu?
13:09 September 9, 2010 by flintis
I retract my first statement #@ put the gadget on Ohly's ears & suck out what's left of his tiny brain#

It would be a waste of energy, after listening to him babble there is no doubt his head is already empty
05:26 September 10, 2010 by Ted Greiner
Never thought I'd see the day when a Swedish Communist (OK, leftist?) would advise women to adopt the American solution to a major social problem! Nearly all American women who breast feed are forced to use a breast pump because their government mandates 0 days paid leave. The result? After a few weeks only half of American babies get any breast milk at all. After a few months only a small minority do. And exclusive breastfeeding is hardly practiced at all.

Breastfeeding is actually declining now in Sweden. Not just Lars but Swedish politics in general needs to get grip. If men and women want to spend equal time doing child care, that can be achieved without having any impact on breastfeeding. The woman can start out full time for the 6 mo of exclusive breastfeeding then gradually start spending increasing amounts of time at work and then for the final months of parental leave the man takes over full time once breastfeeding only takes place in the evenings and/or before work.
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