- Dec 7, 2023
The Finnish Breastfeeding Week is celebrated annually in the first week of October, promoting the importance of breastfeeding benefits to newborns and mothers. This week holds a special place in our hearts as we shine a spotlight on working mums in Finland and how the top-rated Finnish maternity system can improve. It's a chance to think about the challenges we face, the support we need, and the stories of real mums who inspire us.
This year’s theme focuses on breastfeeding and work; on advocating for essential maternity rights that support breastfeeding when women return to work. The campaign seeks to address urgent issues that women face with breastfeeding. More than half a billion working women are not given basic maternity provisions in national laws and many more find themselves unsupported when they go back to work. Just 20% of countries require employers to provide employees with paid breaks and facilities for breastfeeding or expressing milk, and thus, fewer than half of infants under 6 months of age are exclusively breastfed.
Is Finland really the best place to have a baby?
The cost of having a baby in Finland is a pleasant surprise for many. A 30-year-old Finnish mum shared her experience in an article by CNBC, recounting that she stayed in a private hospital room with her husband and newborn for three days, receiving meals and support from the hospital staff. The bill? Approximately $327, a far cry from the average $4500 out-of-pocket cost for maternity care in the United States.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the great stuffs:
- Maternity leave: Finnish mums can take up to 105 weekdays of paid maternity leave, and there's extra leave that can be shared with partners.
- Healthcare support: Finland's healthcare system ensures comprehensive prenatal and postnatal care, safeguarding the well-being of both mother and child.
- The famous maternity box: Perhaps one of the most celebrated initiatives, the Finnish maternity box contains over 45 essential baby products and provides a safe sleep space for every newborn, promoting infant health and safety. Every new parent in Finland receives this baby box free of charge from the government.
Challenges faced by Finnish mothers: A call for progress
Even though Finland does a great job, there are still bumps in the road for mums here. Finnish mothers face their own set of challenges, highlighting the need for ongoing improvements:
- Traumatic birth experiences: Statistics reveal that approximately one-third of Finnish parents choose not to have more children due to traumatic previous birth experiences, emphasising the need for continuous enhancements in maternal care.
- No legal rights to breastfeed during working hours: Unlike many European countries, Finnish mothers don't have explicit legal rights to breastfeed during work hours, pointing towards the importance of more inclusive policies.
- Not enough help in hospitals: One pressing issue facing Finnish maternity care is the severe understaffing in birth hospitals, particularly in the capital region. Recent statistics from the Finnish Nurses Association highlight that many birth hospitals are grappling with staff shortages, leaving mums to face the daunting challenge of navigating motherhood without adequate support.
- A maternity box without maternity items: While the baby box is filled with essential goodies for newborns, it's worth noting that the only items designated for mothers are... condoms and sanitary pads. This highlights the need for a more comprehensive approach to maternal support, as mothers' well-being should never take a back seat.
Lola&Lykke’s mission: Mums First
In the face of these challenges in Finland, Lola&Lykke is here to lend a hand. Founded by two Finnish mums, Laura and Kati, who went through their own share of ups and downs during motherhood, our mission is simple – put mums first.
We recognise that even in countries with stellar maternity systems, such as Finland, there's always room for improvement. Our commitment is to bridge the gaps and empower mothers with the knowledge, resources, and support they need to navigate the challenges of motherhood.
In the face of staffing shortages, Lola&Lykke stands as a beacon of support. We offer a completely free Ask an Expert service, including lactation consultants, midwives, and psychotherapists, who work tirelessly to ensure mums receive the care and attention they require.
As we celebrate Finnish Breastfeeding Week in 2023, we do so with a firm belief that every mother deserves the best care and support possible. Lola&Lykke is here to champion the cause, advocate for mothers, and lead the charge in transforming maternal healthcare for mums in Finland and beyond.
Learn more about Lola&Lykke’s story.
Stories of Finnish mums
Now, let's dive deeper into the lives of Finnish mums at Lola&Lykke and learn how they've embraced the challenges, joys, and lessons that come with being a breastfeeding mother in Finland.
Laura, one of our co-founders, bravely shares her intimate journey: "My first birth was very traumatic with lots of complications, so I really struggled with breastfeeding at first. But as I healed and started to feel more like myself again, I noticed that bond with my son getting stronger. It wasn't a 'perfect' journey; it was supplemented by formula, but I cherished those moments." Laura emphasizes the resilience of motherhood, showcasing that even amid challenges, the connection between a mother and child can flourish. "I stopped breastfeeding before I went back to work, but during my maternity leave, my breast pump was definitely my best friend." Laura’s tips for new mums who may be going through the same experience: “Even if you go through a traumatic birth and cannot breastfeed right from the start, it is always possible to establish breastfeeding later on – just give yourself time to heal and feel well.”
Sara, another team member, candidly opens up about her painful breastfeeding experience: "I suffered intense pain due to sore and bleeding nipples. I cried each time my baby latched.” Sara's determination led her to explore alternative solutions, including supplementing with baby formula to allow her breasts to heal. “I tried to maintain my milk production by pumping because I couldn't breastfeed very often. Then one day, I finally saw milk spraying from my breast while pumping. After that, everything pretty much fell into place!“ Her journey eventually led to a happy ending: a successful and pain-free breastfeeding experience with her second child.
Phuong shares her experience of delayed milk production: "The milk did not come out until day 5, and my son was hungry all the time." Facing this challenge, Phuong stayed committed and tried her best to make it work: “I nursed him all the time. It was a total nightmare for me." Phuong found an alternative that has helped her mental health, physical health, and insanity massively: "Around 4 months, he chose the bottle over mommy's breast, so I exclusively pumped since then. I stopped pumping when he was 10 months. It's enough! My tip: Do whatever you feel right. If you feel there’s a need to give formula to the baby, do it. If you feel like you want to pump instead of nursing, do it. You mental health is important.”
As we celebrate Finnish Breastfeeding Week in 2023, we applaud these mothers for their strength, perseverance, braveness to share their stories. Lola&Lykke continues to stand by mums, offering support, guidance, and a community of understanding to all mothers as they navigate the unique challenges and joys of motherhood.
by Lola&Lykke Team
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