Author: Mia Ydholm

UN Experts Call for Action on Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes

Breastfeeding is recognized as a human rights issue for both mothers and babies, and those who wish to breastfeed their children have the right to unbiased and accurate information to be able to make informed choices. There are numerous barriers facing women worldwide in regards of optimal breastfeeding. Inappropriate and varying knowledge and skills among healthcare workers, non-existent maternity leave and non-supportive cultural practices are only a few that affect and hinder women who wish to breastfeed. On November 22nd, a joint statement by a group of UN experts was released to urge action on one major obstacle: the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, also known as formula. Together, they call upon Member States to implement legal measures to protect babies and mothers from misleading, and often aggressive marketing. Let’s have a look at some facts: Global sales of breast-milk substitutes total US$ 44.8 billion In 2019, the number is expected to rise to US$ 70.6 billion Of 194 countries analyzed, 135 have some form of legal measure in place related to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (also …

The Arduous Process of Getting Pregnant: Infertility and IVF

Whenever I’m feeling a bit down, or if I struggle to fall asleep in the night, I tend to go back to the time when my husband Jakob and I decided that we wanted to have a baby. So far, this is the sunshine story of my life. While trying to wrap my head around the fact that Donald Trump has been elected President of the (not so) United States, I’ve been finding it hard to come up with ideas for an inspiring post. Sadly and unfortunately, this sorry excuse for a man has been occupying my mind and for a brief moment, I feel like I need to go to my “happy place” to be able to combat my somewhat darker thoughts, and to regain energy. We had been together for about a year and a half when Jakob was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I vividly remember everything from that doctor’s appointment in February 2013 – the look on the doctor’s face while doing the ultrasound screening, and that moment when Jakob and I …

World Prematurity Day 2016 – The Simplest of Interventions that Saves Lives

Each year more than 15 million babies are born prematurely, many of whom die within their first few days of life. Today, on World Prematurity Day 2016, we are shedding light on one of the most effective, yet basic interventions: Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC). With exclusive breastfeeding being one of its essential components, this method has the potential to save the lives of babies born prematurely. This week, in connection with World Prematurity Day, Save the Children announced that representatives of major international and U.S. associations for health professionals will come together and endorse a joint statement recommending the universal use of KMC for all preterm and low birth weight infants. So, what does Kangaroo Mother Care entail and why do we need it? KMC is a method of care practiced on newborn children – usually preterm (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), low birthweight infants – where the mother, father or another carer functions as a natural incubator, providing heat, stimulation and feeding to the baby. The newborn, only wearing a nappy and a …

The Vital Need for Data to Improve Maternal Health

Globally and daily, around 830 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth – equivalent to nearly 35 women an hour. This results in over 300 000 maternal deaths each year – deaths that could be prevented if adequate care was provided. Skilled care before, during and after birth has been identified as one of the key strategies to reducing maternal deaths, a care that 25% of women still do not have access to. Bernice lives with her father and her four younger siblings in a small rural village in the north of Burundi. Her family, along with eight out of ten Burundians, live below the poverty line, and they depend fully on their household food crop production for their survival. Due to several droughts lately, they are currently facing severe food shortage. Bernice is pregnant with her first child, and even though she’s more than half way through her pregnancy, she hasn’t yet seen a doctor. She is severely malnourished, putting both her and her baby at an elevated risk of complications. Two years …

Traveling to Malaysia & the Global Breastfeeding Partners Forum

I was invited to represent Girls’ Globe at World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action‘s (WABA)Global Breastfeeding Partners Forum (GBPF) in Penang, Malaysia, on quite short notice. To me, this meant that I didn’t have the time to get nervous, nor to actually realize that I was going to the other side of the world with my husband and 8-month-old daughter. When the airplane lifted towards the cloudy sky in Copenhagen it all suddenly hit me, and my heart skipped a beat. I was going to attend a breastfeeding conference with people from all over the world, many of whom have been in the game for longer than I have even existed. I was going to represent this fantastic organization that I had only even been aware of for no more than two months or so. I was going to take part in a plenary session in front of all of these knowledgeable people. What on earth was I getting myself into? What was I going to say? We arrived in Penang quite late in the evening, two …

Breastfeeding and the Sustainable Development Goals

Breastfeeding is an essential part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and can be mirrored in not only the most obvious ones – like Zero Hunger and Good Health and Well-being – but in many (if not all) of the other goals. Its impact and benefit for the baby, mother and thus society as a whole might not be the main target of the goal, but indirectly many linkages can be recognized. Breast milk is, and always has been free. The costs for formula on the other hand, can have huge impact on a household’s budget. Our babies don’t need anything else – not even water – for the first six months of their lives, if they are exclusively breastfed (of course, there are always exceptions to the rule). With adequate information and support, nearly all mothers can breastfeed their children, no matter their financial situation. What an amazing, effective and inexpensive intervention in the battle to end poverty! Zero Hunger and Good Health and Well-Being are essential goals towards global sustainability and equality, and they …

On Motherhood and Sharing Personal Experiences

Seven months ago I had my first child. After many hormone injections (including many hormonal roller coasters) and two painful egg retrievals, I was finally pregnant! I had an uncomplicated pregnancy, a quick and rather easy childbirth, and a good postpartum period. I have been able to breastfeed my child from the beginning and fortunately she has not yet had any complications in her life. She’s a very content and happy baby who sleeps well, eats well, and even pees and poops on the toilet. Of course, there are days when she cannot be pleased whatever my husband or I do, and nights when she screams and keeps us awake for hours. However, this is certainly an anomaly, and I’ve realized that I’m a very fortunate mommy. But I cannot fully settle with that. Based upon my experiences with my daughter, I’ve come to realize that it should not be a privilege to have a safe childbirth, to get adequate information regarding everything from pregnancy to the postnatal time and everything there is to it …