Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: Nothing But Newborn

This book is another short read - these parenting books are making me wonder about my future attention span. Am I going to be read anything smaller than 18 point font and one hundred pages next month? I'm deluded enough to be planning - well, considering - a 10 hour (each way) road trip while on my six week mat leave, so call me an optimist.

Written by Janet A. Stockheim MD, the subtitle is "A First Month Primer for Parents." Stockheim is a pediatrician with loads of experience caring for newborns and, I infer, managing their parents. In brief, I'm glad I bought this book though it has some major flaws. I expect it will save me and my pediatrician a few anxious midnight phone calls.

She includes some very helpful info about things that are normal and not to worry about, such as rashes, the normal range/quantity/appearance of stools, and cord stump care. She addresses in a simple, step by step manner how to sponge bathe a newborn, and a few questions about caring for newborn genitalia that some parents might be shy to ask their doctor. Throughout there are also alerts to issues to which you do want to draw your doctor's attention

There are a couple of excellent sections for the stressed out parent, reminding us that babies largely communicate their needs by crying, how to manage your expectations of their abilities, and resources to draw upon when you're at your last straw. Most of what she says echoes what my midwives have taught me and what I've read other places, so I feel good about the reliability of the info.

Unfortunately, the book glosses over bedsharing, by simply saying don't do it, it's dangerous. Stockheim goes so far to suggest that bedsharing causes SIDS, by including it in the list of causes of SIDS. The Sleeping With Your Baby book I previously reviewed by James McKenna is also a quick, inexpensive read where you'll get much more useful, and I feel more accurate information in this regard.

Finally, though Stockheim devotes a good size section to breastfeeding, throughout the rest of the book, it seems that formula feeding is the default. For example, thickening formula with cereal is frequently suggested as a troubleshooting strategy for various problems. Some information is out of date, such as warning HIV positive mothers that the virus can be transmitted through breast milk, even though the latest research shows that exclusive breastfeeding reduces transmission substantially.

The misinformation continues with statements like "if your breast milk is slow to come in, it is fine to offer infant formula to... maintain her hydration". Huh? Everything I've read says that newborns are waterlogged, have very low nutritional requirements in the first few days and besides, have stomachs the size of chickpeas. Additionally, the more you breastfeed, the more milk you make - if you start supplementing, you reduce your chances of ramping up your production.

A great book on breastfeeding that I'd recommend with much better breastfeeding info is Breastfeeding Made Simple, Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Mohrbacher and Kendall-Tackett. I'll be doing a full review of this book soon - but in brief, I really like it!

In sum, there is a lot to like about Nothing But Newborn, but substantial bits of it bugged me too. I recommend it in a qualified way, so long as the reader promises to look elsewhere for info on bedsharing and breastfeeding!

Any favourite newborn books or websites out there that you like? Anyone else read this book?


Ryan said...

I read that this book can be really wonderful, if you haven't already read it: Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein's book Your Best Birth. (Reviewed on

CaroLyn said...

Ooh, good one, thanks Ryan. I loved the movie they did, The Business of Being Born, and I've been watching bits of their new movie come out online. I guess I didn't realize there was a book too - cool!

Shannon said...

Just wanted to say I'm getting excited for you! I'll be checking in for news regularly. Also, I think Anna did the same shifting thing at the end. I remember doing a lot of cat and dog pose, and fretting, but all for nothing. She flipped back into place during labour.

CaroLyn said...

Shannon, thanks, yeah, I'm trying to remain calm about her position. One of my midwives said not to worry about it and that some women even deliver posterior and it's not so bad. I'll keep y'all posted!