Sunday, July 26, 2009

Quick 'n' Dirty Book Reviews: Three Books on Breastfeeding

I don't seem to be motivated to sit and write proper reviews of these books right now, so I'm going to knock out a few thoughts and possibly return to them later. The irony of me reviewing books on breastfeeding before having done any breastfeeding does not escape me. All of these books were loaned to me by my doula.

First, the American Academy of Pediatrics publishes the New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding. This isn't a bad book, but it's kind of basic and yet at the same time, makes things sound so complicated and scientific that it's rather daunting. I wish I hadn't read this book first out of the books I've read on breastfeeding.

Second, Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett wrote Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers. This is an excellent book. It's very straightforward and brief (well, 250 pages isn't quite brief, but it seems brief compared to the next tome), but at the same time, it allows for a wide range of "normal" which I think is important. They've provided loads of troubleshooting strategies and some basic philosophies which sound accurate to me. I love this book and I'm so glad I read it. The approach of natural laws, with a chapter for each one, resonates with me. I strongly recommend this book.

La Leche League publishes the classic book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and it's a huge book - 463 pages! I wasn't sure how you could possibly have so much to say about breastfeeding, until I started reading it, and realized that it's more of a parenting book. There are chapters on nutrition, returning to work, the father's role, etc. I think for the most part, the breastfeeding information is good.

Unfortunately, I have several huge beefs with this book, the biggest one is that it's blisteringly heterosexist. In the AAP book, it's largely written to mom and baby. Mohrbacher and Kendall-Tackett take more or less the same approach. Unfortunately, LLL have written a book (revised in 2004) that's more than just about the act of feeding the baby, and state at the beginning of the book that they feel that "breastfeeding and mothering progress more easily in (a heterosexual nuclear family) environment." They acknowledge how old school this is by saying they know there are single mothers out there. I guess no one has mentioned to them that parents come in more form factors than the man/woman dyad. Crikey.

I wish I'd skipped the chapter on returning to work. I read it hoping for useful information on pumping, migrating to pumping and bottle feeding, negotiating for time to pump at work, etc. However, the chapter was largely example after example of women who originally planned to return to work, and then fell in love with their babies so much they decided not to. Just between you, me and LLL: We'd go tits up pretty quick (pun intended) if I don't go back to work when my paid leave ends. I don't expect to be happy to be gone from the baby for 8 - 10 hours a day, but fortunately, I do love my job and I'll be leaving her with my DH, her dad, rather than strangers, so it shouldn't be too bad.

I haven't finished this book yet, and I'm not sure I'm going to. There's a chapter on discipline, and one on kids with special needs... I may just return this to my doula and ask for it back if I feel like I need it. The LLL book has loads of good info on breastfeeding but it's so wrapped up in this other opinionated junk that it makes me cranky reading it. Of course, I am kinda cranky right now anyway...

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