Well Being

Mama Knows Breast: A Book Review

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mama-knows-breast-cover.jpgBreastfeeding blogger Andi Silverman has written a “Girlfriend's Guide”-type book called Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner's Guide to Breastfeeding. I really liked so many things about the book, and I have just a few suggestions for changes in a future second edition (I boldly predict the book will have enough success to warrant one!)

The Best Things about Mama Knows Breast

1. It is a sassy yet savvy primer on breastfeeding.

2. The concise 160-page pocket guide manages to cover a full range of breastfeeding topics.

3. It is a quick and humorous read that packs a lot of information.

4. A vast majority of the information and advice is spot on. Andi breastfed her sons, did research on breastfeeding, and had several lactation consultants review the book. As I read the book I often found myself thinking, “Yes! I'm so glad you said that!”

5. The illustrations are great–very hip, fun and cute.

6. The section on “Responding to Critics” is a hoot!

7. The list of resources in the back provides excellent references for further reading.

Changes I'd Like to See in Mama Knows Breast: The Revised Edition

1. In trying not to lay guilt on formula-feeding moms, the book represents formula as an equally safe and viable option:

In some developing countries, breastfeeding is safer for infants than formula-feeding. In developed countries, however, where women have access to clean water, formula-feeding is considered a viable alternative to breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is always safer than formula-feeding, even in developed countries. Breastfeeding saves lives, and early weaning or not breastfeeding at all puts children at higher risk of illness and even death.

2. Breastfeeding is undermined by the repeated suggestions to give the baby bottles of either breast milk or formula so mom can get a break or more sleep. Sure the occasional bottle of expressed breast milk is fine once breastfeeding is well established, but talking about mom spending a night at a hotel or even hiring a regular night nurse goes too far when we're talking about breastfeeding an infant. (Although I love that Andi says not to let any baby nurse force you into following a prescribed feeding schedule. “Feed your baby if she's hungry, even if she just ate ten minutes ago.” That's one of those “Yes! I'm so glad you said that!” moments!)

3. Even the popular “sleep trainers” don't recommend sleep training for babies younger than six months old. Sleep training at three months can lead to failure to thrive! The thought of making a baby cry-it-out at that age (or any age!) is enough to make me want to cry!

4. While the book briefly mentions that some women might choose to nurse into toddlerhood, there's no discussion of the benefits of doing so (it's all presented as a mother's personal choice, not as something that might actually benefit the child).

5. Hand-expression should be mentioned as an option. Not all women can afford a pump and pumping can be more painful than hand-expressing when a woman's breasts are engorged.

6. The “Who Can Help” section does not name La Leche League (although the name comes up in other parts of the book). Pediatricians and other doctors are also resources, but remember, they probably received one-and-a-half hours or less in breastfeeding instruction. La Leche League leaders are breastfeeding mothers who are specially trained to counsel other breastfeeding mothers. The group should be listed right up there with lactation consultants.

7. If a mother needs treatment for thrush, the baby absolutely needs simultaneous treatment as well (and vice versa), whether or not the other party shows symptoms of yeast infection. Treating only the mother or only the baby simply allows the yeast to pass back and forth between them.

I realize I am far to the right on breastfeeding (although not militantly so) and some might think my suggestions are a bit nit-picky. Maybe. Andi's an excellent writer and Mama Knows Breast fills a gap on the breastfeeding book shelves. I think it will be a huge success and deservedly so. Congratulations Andi on “giving birth” to a book that just might convince a lot of women to breastfeed!