Book Review: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

Below is my review of this book, written by a number of women affiliated with La Leche League International. This was one of three other books I picked up from the library on breastfeeding. I’d also picked up The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins and The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Jack Newman. I’ve heard great things about each book. Honestly, I’m a Q & A type of person. I enjoy reading books on certain subject in a Q & A format. I thought for sure that would be how the latter book would present, but it didn’t and I was instantly turned off. I may pick up these books again when I’m going through my lactation consultant training (in March, I hope!).

The format of this book is great. Each chapter is laid out by ages and stages in nursing, beginning with pregnancy. The reader learns the basics about hormones, milk production, and nursing positions within the first 100 pages. That being said, this book is wayyyyyyy too long! BUT, do not let that stop you from reading it.

Each chapter addresses the same things for that age: Nursing Habits and Concerns You May Have. I found these sections the most informative. There is a Q & A type style weaved in, like “Is my supply dropping? Is my baby weaning?”. At the end of the book, Chapter 18, is a tech support guide to helping the reader figure out what she needs to do next. It addresses things like reflux, sore nipples,supplementing, etc. If the reader is looking for quick answers, there is a glossary in the back of the book that can be very helpful.

Because the book is written by the #1 breastfeeding support organization in the world, there is a lot of credit to be given. If you’re looking for one book to take you through nursing a newborn to a toddler, then this is a great resource. You’ll only need it for 1-2 chapters as it covers 4-9 months quickly and as situations come up, the glossary is available. As the book suggests, having a network of support is a surefire way to make nursing much easier, even through the bleeding nipples and thrush. Find out if your hospital offers a program for new nursing mothers; ours does. I was there nearly every week while I nursed Logan.

As with any self-help book, there are certain things you may want to take with a grain of salt. This is a very one-sided representation of breastfeeding. I had to roll my eyes a few times. Don’t let certain assumptions expressed stop you from reading and/or seeking help through nursing. The mama who can continue to nurse after a bought with mastitis is my hero!

I made note of several lines in the book which were helpful. Here’s a sample:

Living cells that are unique to your milk inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and viruses in his still-maturing system. And it’s more than just living cells. For instance, interferon and interleukins are powerful anti-invectives. If you could buy them, they’d cost the moon. Your milk throws them in, free of charge. A squirt of your milk can even treat eye infections and speed the healing of skin problems!

Colostrum is a laxative that gets his intestines up and running and helps clean out all the tar-like stool called meconium that built up in his system before birth.

Breastfeeding doesn’t reduce the risk of infection, illness, and disease. It doesn’t add IQ points. Breastfeeding results in normal good health and normal IQ. When babies aren’t breastfed, they are at increased risk for those short-term and long-term illnesses and diseases.

These hormones, prolactin and oxytocin, not only foster a connection with your baby, they also help you recover from the emotional and physical stress of birth.

Nipple sensitivity is common in the early days. But if breastfeeding actually hurts, that’s your body’s single to change something.

Nipple pain and damage are NOT normal.

Once you start, milk is always being made. It’s made more rapidly when the breast is less full. The fuller the breast, the more slowly milk is made.

Most important, decide this is something you are GOING to do, not something you are going to TRY to do.

If you read this and write a review, please leave a comment and link! Thanks.

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Breastfeeding Resources

Here is a great link to the 50 Best Breastfeeding Resources. Personally, I found Kelly Mom to be the most informative when I was still nursing Logan. However the greatest resource was our hospital’s Wee Steps program. After you have your baby you can go, anytime, to receive help nursing, meet other new mamas, and weigh your baby. Logan and I had a TON of nursing issues which ultimatly got the best of both of us at 10 weeks. I am so proud to have been able to nurse him that long. You can read about our nursing issues HERE. Next time we have another baby I hope and pray that nursing goes 10 times better for us! I want to nurse for at least a year. I still miss it.