Breastfeeding Made Simple

Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett (2010) — This book came recommended by my doula and I have to say, I liked it quite a lot. As I browsed breastfeeding book reviews on Amazon, I got worried because I saw several that seemed to take a rather judgmental perspective on breastfeeding mothers who work. I consider the breadwinner-SAHP model  to be so myopic and divorced from the reality of such a large swath of human experience throughout history, it’s amazing to me that people can still promote it with a straight face–let alone try and guilt women for choosing to work outside the home. [1] And yet, there are several breastfeeding books published here in the 21st century that only offer advice on how to manage a pumping-and-work schedule after lecturing working mothers on how staying at home is what’s best for their babies. [2] I wasn’t interested in any of those.

I’m happy to say that BMS is lacking in such preachiness, and presents some very practical information on how to establish breastfeeding, maintain a milk supply, and troubleshoot problems. Looking back, I can see so many things that I did wrong with my firstborn, though she was a cleft palate baby who could not breastfeed (more on that in a moment). For example, I typically did not try to feed her until she was upset and crying. I saw crying as the ultimate cue to begin feeding. BMS says to look for early feeding cues such as rooting, sucking on hands, etc. and try to feed baby before s/he becomes upset. BMS also shoots down some breastfeeding myths that I’ve often heard preached (that eating more food improves milk supply, that you have to wait for your nipples to “toughen up” in order to get through pain in the beginning). It explains how pumping can be used along with breastfeeding to help improve milk supply.

With my daughter, upon learning about the palate, I initially set out to exclusively pump and bottle feed her. My, was I in over my head. I did not have a good-quality pump, just a cheap single-breast electric pump from Wal-Mart, so pumping for her was extremely cumbersome. I didn’t make an effort to pump 8-12 times per day, that’s for sure. Since I found pumping so cumbersome, I did it as little as possible, which is probably what killed my milk supply. After about 3-4 weeks, I found myself forced to supplement with formula. 1-2 weeks later, I gave up altogether, let my milk dry up, and went to formula exclusively. Looking back, I wish I had invested the $300-$400 in a good, high-quality, electric double-breast pump, gotten up in the middle of the night for at least one pumping session, etc.

I do have a few quibbles with this book. The authors actually applaud New York City’s paternalistic move to promote breastfeeding by refusing to allow hospitals to hand out formula samples. I guess I’m of the opinion that women are not all mindless sheeples and can make their own choices about breastfeeding vs. formula feeding without being barred from getting free stuff, but the authors seem to disagree. The authors also suggest that cleft palate babies can be partially breastfed. That’s news to me. They never make any kind of a distinction between a soft cleft palate and a hard cleft palate, which is a pretty significant difference, leaving me to wonder how much they actually looked into the subject before writing on it.

Still, I liked the book a lot and found it helpful and informative. Overall I’d give it 4.5/5 stars.

————

[1] I am not knocking anyone who follows this model today, but its promoters often act like women working outside the home is some kind of devious invention of the modern feminist movement. It isn’t. For most of human history, it’s largely been the wealthy, upper-class women who could afford to stay at home and be exclusively supported by their husbands, and such women generally had servants and wet nurses to care for their children, so they were hardly the forerunners of today’s homemaker. The lower and middle class women worked, and instead managed their children by taking them with them in their tasks, sharing childcare time with their spouses, and putting the children to work as soon as they were able.

[2] The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League authors appears to be one such book.

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Categories: Book Reviews, Breastfeeding | Leave a comment

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