Sunday, May 25, 2008

Breastfeeding Swedes (for Jo)

Appearantly there are statistics on how much Swedes breastfeed. I wouldn't know the exact number or where to find the stats, but I expect the number to be quite high. As breastfeeding is a natural process and as Swedes tend/try to be practical I suppose that would be one of the reasons of the high stats.

An other reason is probably that we're not very shy of showing ourselves nude. I'm sure you've heard of the crazy naked Swedes and the Swedish films (eventhough most of them were not Swedish at all) But when it comes to breastfeeding you'll see women feeding their kids in the most strange places around the city. Especially in cafés and restaurants. Every now and then very old people and rather young women try to get the public opinion going on what a nasty behaviour breastfeeding in public is, but the public opinion is "If you can't stand a naked breast, get out of that café or stop staring, Stupid."

The main reason why we breastfeed is probably that we're basically brainwashed and bullied into doing it. During the pregnancy we are constantly reminded of the benefits of breastfeeding. You will slim faster and your child will benefit from it. I'm sure few mothers find it in them to say "I'd rather bottlefeed my child as I don't care to pass antidotes to my baby, or, I don't care to reduce the risk of developing allergies etc when my child gets older."
Then there's the financial aspect. Bottlefeeding costs a small fortune. Even if your child cannot be breastfed most women will still try feeding them their own milk. (I had to do that with my second kid but was eventually told to give it up after three months as I was not sleeping enough. But I'd do it again should I be in the same situation.)

Finally we're being watched. The nurses will ask for you to show them that the feeding is working prior to letting you leave the hospital. I didn't think of it as being watched, but a friend reminded me of it when she said they drove her nuts asking her to prove it was working. Then, after leaving the hospital, a nurse will come visit you at home after a week or so to check that it is OK. Should there be problems you will get help from specialists (if you *want* to breastfeed that is). I think they asked me if it all worked well every check-up we went to. Can't really remember now as it's been 15 years. Fuck I'm old!


  1. ! Watched, or supported!? It's really a matter of perspective! Checking you're not getting hurt is a good thing, surely, rather than let you go home, get sore, have a hard time, not nourish the baby properly? It's their job!

    Thanks for the info, and an interesting perspective.

  2. Given I feel like fainting with squeamish disgust at the sight of it I've developed the ability to make it disappear from my vision, even if i'm sitting in front of a bf-ing mother - a handy trick to have.

  3. Milan - I too make it/them disappear, believe me.

    Jo - I know it's their job, and I'm so happy they're doing it. But I know a lot of the mothers would give it up asap unless the check-ups, the home visit and the first day(s) in the hospital. So all in all, good.

  4. Is that because they really don't want to do it? Or because it would be too hard without the help? I know the majority of women in Ireland run into difficulties and they don't get any help or answers - then they feel bad for stopping, which is so wrong. And the expectation of a lot of women here is that it's going to be an awful, painful chore.

    Do you think mothers in Sweden are breastfeeding under duress who would much rather not? That's a scary picture!

  5. hi jo, yes, that's actually my current thinking, i'm only 17 weeks pregnant and i'm already worrying about cracked nipples and not having enough milk and flat nipples! and the pain...

  6. Nah Jo, I think once it all is working few mothers do it just because it is the "right thing to do".
    And P, don't worry. It will pass :)

  7. Péitseoga there's an enormous amount you can do to avoid this happening, don't worry!

    Sign up for a course with a consultant now, read 'Bestfeeding', and I'll send you another great reference title now.

    All the evidence shows that the more prepared you are, the greater the success.

    Cracked nipples come from feeding on when the baby's not latched on right - if you keep taking them on and off til it's right, from the start, it shouldn't happen.

    If you mail me at my blog address I'll send you all the links and stuff I know of.