Breastfeeding woman.

2017-05-31 15:25

Knowledge in breastfeeding is not linked to biological sex

Lina Palmér, breastfeeding researcher at the University of Borås, believes that thorough knowledge in breastfeeding is needed in order to support women who breastfeed or want to breastfeed. Expectations on women as breastfeeding experts will not last over time.

Lina PalmérToday’s quite polarised breastfeeding debate gives birth to a number of myths. Yet, breastfeeding care tends to end up in the shadows.

”One myth is that breastfeeding is simple and something all women are capable of without having to learn it. Starting to breastfeed can be difficult and often takes a lot of effort in order to work. Both mother and child needs to learn how to interpret each other’s signals”, says Lina Palmér.

Lina Palmér busts three more myths:
Newborn children has a sucking need that needs to be remedied with a soother.
– Newborns are pre-programmed to suck a lot in order to stimulate the mother’s milk production, but if the baby is not breastfeeding it is not necessary to fix it with a soother.
Newborn children may be spoiled if they breastfeed a lot.
– You can never spoil a newborn child with breastfeeding.
Newborns should be breastfed at 3-4 hour intervals.
– Newborns want to breastfeed at least 10-30 times a day.

Lina’s research shows that breastfeeding is an existential phenomenon that affects women’s lives in a fundamental way, whether breastfeeding is difficult or not. Therefore, it is important that breastfeeding caregivers listen to the woman’s story, but they also need knowledge in the complex connection between biology and culture that surrounds breastfeeding.

”To make it clear, it seems that the only thing that makes a caregiver qualified to work with breastfeeding is that she’s a woman. Knowledge in breastfeeding is not in our biological sex as women; it requires thorough education”, Lina Palmér says and continues:

”The entire care chain needs to be shaken up a bit, and all caregivers should look into themselves and go through their own knowledge, or lack thereof. We shouldn’t have to put up with a patriarchal view that undermines women’s breastfeeding potential.”

Few research financiers invest in breastfeeding

Another myth is that there is no research on breastfeeding. There is, and actually quite good, if you ask Lina Palmér. But implementing research in care is time consuming and costs a lot of money, which is often lacking.

”I’m convinced that we breastfeeding researchers could be involved and influence politicians and in extent the care chain even more, if we had bigger research financiers behind us. As it is now, knowledge in breastfeeding isn’t prioritised that high, neither in the health care educations or in the health care.”

Text: Rebecca Lindholm
Photo: Mostphotos
Portrait photo: Suss Wilén
Translater: Linda Lindstedt