Significance of both parents in breastfeeding

Exploring partner experiences in Swedish breastfeeding support


Uppsala University and Region Sörmland worked together on a program to help parents with breastfeeding. They provided organized support for breastfeeding to new parents throughout the healthcare system.

The study about this program is in the International Breastfeeding Journal. They interviewed partners to see how they felt about the support, comparing those in a breastfeeding support group with those in a standard support group.

Ingrid Blixt, a doctor and midwife, said healthcare staff must offer structured support to all parents. This means involving the whole family and talking openly about breastfeeding. Through these conversations, they found that partners want to help feed the baby. Including them and explaining how they can help without feeding the baby directly is essential.

Studies have shown that breastfeeding is perfect for both moms and babies. It helps protect babies from getting sick and lowers the risk of cancer for moms. Most moms want to breastfeed, but only a few babies in Sweden are breastfed exclusively for six months.

In a group where breastfeeding support was provided, partners felt more involved. They worked with the mom to make breastfeeding successful. In contrast, partners in the other group felt left out because they couldn’t feed the baby and didn’t feel supported by the healthcare staff.

Right now, the only rule in healthcare is giving parents a breastfeeding pamphlet. After that, it’s up to each staff member to decide what help they give.

Blixt said, “Single people are a vulnerable group and need other types of support. You may have a mum or someone close to you who can support you. Healthcare professionals can provide some support.”

The support program has started in different parts of Region Sörmland and will expand to cover the entire region. It will also begin in Region Uppsala.

“What’s great is that everyone will receive this support as part of regular healthcare. It’s available to all mothers, whether they’re having their first baby or have had babies before,” said Blixt.

The conclusion is that both parents should help with breastfeeding, and healthcare workers should support the partner in a way that includes them without giving the baby a bottle. For single mothers, different options need to be considered.

Journal reference:

  1. Blixt, I., Axelsson, O. & Funkquist, EL. Partners’ breastfeeding experiences: a qualitative evaluation of a breastfeeding support intervention in Sweden. International Breastfeeding Journal. DOI: 10.1186/s13006-023-00609-6.