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According to Annika Saarikko, the minister of family affairs and social services, Finland is currently far behind the international recommendations when it comes to breastfeeding. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Finland has another great goal. It wants to become the leading country in breastfeeding.

Annika Saarikko, the minister of family affairs and social services, was speaking about the topic in her latest column for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health’s webpage.

According to Saarikko, “Finnish women want to breastfeed, which is a good thing.” “Breast milk is the best nourishment for a newborn, and it includes all the necessary vitamins and antibodies.”

However, for one reason or another “we are far behind the national and international recommendations in relation to the duration of breastfeeding and especially full breastfeeding,” Saarikko says. Full breastfeeding refers to feeding only mother’s milk to the newborn without using any substitutes. “Recent mothers need concrete help to begin breastfeeding, how the baby will get a good grip and how to get the process going,” she says.

According to Saarikko, after the beginning of lactation, “the challenge is to provide support for full breastfeeding until four to six months.”

Saarikko says that there is a need to provide support for mothers who from reason or another cannot get the process started. “Mothers easily feel guilt but good maternity doesn’t depend on breastfeeding.”

According to Saarikko, proper guidance in breastfeeding and psychological support can increase the breastfeeding among mothers and also enhance equality. “Currently, equality is not materializing: those with little education and the young mothers breastfeed less than those with higher education.”

Saarikko says that to increase breastfeeding we need coordination on the national level.

In September, Finland took a major step forward in the matter.

“Now I can be happy to say that Riikka Ikonen, the national breastfeeding coordinator, has in September started working at the National Institute For Health and Welfare.”

Picture on the cover: Flickr

Tony Öhberg