Mothers have been breastfeeding for centuries in every country of the world. Scientific studies and tried-and-tested practices have provided us with a wealth of information about breastfeeding. Social media has made the question of whether or not to nurse something of a controversial and sensitive issue in today’s society.
We created the Breastfeeding Guide in the application so that you can access insights now available about breastfeeding and, based on that knowledge, make an active choice for you and your infant. In Sweden, you are entitled to personal breastfeeding support at the maternity ward the first seven days after childbirth and from a nurse at the child health clinic thereafter. There are breastfeeding clinics in many parts of the country that can offer more help.
You can choose to breastfeed exclusively, to breastfeed part of the time or to not breastfeed at all (give your newborn baby formula).
Allow yourself time to land in your and your partner’s decision. Talk at home about what you want to do and support each other should those close to you or other acquaintances question your choice (it’s none of their business!). If you are single, discuss your decision with someone you trust. While you’re pregnant, give some thought to what you want to do once your baby has arrived. If you have decided to breastfeed, we recommend preparing ahead of time while you are pregnant. It’s not always an easy decision to make. You can also decide once baby has arrived.
Good to know about breastfeeding
If you know that you want to breastfeed, or if you have yet to decide, the information below can help to make breastfeeding a success.
- Babies can survive the first six months on breast milk and vitamin D drops alone—and other medication if necessary.
- Breastfeeding is not always easy, and it helps if you have prepared mentally and know how your body and your newborn infant react immediately after childbirth and the first few days. The first week of breastfeeding plays a big part in how breastfeeding will be later. That’s why preparation is important.
- Holding your baby skin-to-skin, with baby’s airways unobstructed, immediately after birth and until baby finds the breast and starts to suck or falls asleep, makes both bonding and nursing easier.
- Hand expression/breast milk stimulation if baby does not suck (baby may be tired and exhausted from delivery, be nauseous, have a headache from the traction cup, etc.) is the best method to get your milk supply started. Studies indicate that if you hand express the first hours after baby’s birth, your milk supply will be greater on day 4. Imagine that you are placing an order for a later delivery.
- Try to hand express during your pregnancy, starting from pregnancy week 38, for practice purposes and to familiarize yourself with how it feels. Hand expression need not produce a single drop of milk (either during pregnancy or later). This is something you do to “place an order” for later. Some mothers can produce some colostrum at the beginning, drops that can be given to the baby.
- Baby’s behavior and signals—the nine stages to start nursing. If you know about these stages, you will recognize your baby’s behavior pattern immediately after birth.
- Whether a mother breastfeeds from one breast or more during a feeding session (more = switching breasts during the same session, two to four times) varies.
- There are several different breastfeeding positions to try. Most mothers and babies find one or more that they prefer.
- Changes in your breasts are caused primarily by pregnancy, not breastfeeding.
- Nursing should not hurt. It makes no difference if the healthcare staff standing next to you says that everything looks fine. If it hurts, it’s not fine. When your baby latches and sucks the first few times, it’s normal to feel some pain or tenderness. But it shouldn’t hurt after that. Consult the staff at the maternity ward, child health clinic, or breastfeeding clinic.
- The baby’s father/co-parent plays an important part—involve this person in the breastfeeding process. Studies show that support from partners is important for the outcome of breastfeeding.