Customer Reviews: Fresh Milk: The Secret Life of Breasts
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on May 1, 2003
I love it! I am a very proud "lactivist" with a beautiful healthy 13 month old moo. This book is really a breath of fresh air, with some really thought provoking ideas. Since our culture almost let breastfeeding become a "lost art", I think that we really need ideas like those from Fiona Giles that blast open people's ideas of what breastfeeding is and can be. I've already started asking other nursing mothers some of the questions posed in the book. This has really started me thinking about things in a whole new light.
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on April 28, 2003
It is a sad society that finds silicone-filled breasts more alluring than milk-filled breasts.

The female breast symbolically reflects the long-established and tiresome male classification of woman as either Madonna or whore. According to men, and sadly some women, the female breast exists to be eroticised, fetishised, morphed, manipulated, enhanced and exploited UNTIL it begins to function. As soon as breasts start to express themselves they are immediately sanctified, purified, hidden and forbidden. Too sad.
In one interview Kimberley Hefner boasted that she never breastfed her children, not once. Her prerogative, of course, but it is ironic that ex-husband Hugh's Playboy fortune, and therefore hers, was built entirely on male worship of the female breast. But when it came to employing her own breasts for their true and original purpose, she baulked. While Kimberley feared the assumed domestication of her breasts, staunch breastfeeding advocates do the opposite by denying the lactating breast any hint of its inherent sensuality and sexuality. No, no, do not touch, do not admire.
In "Fresh Milk" Fiona Giles and her contributors reveal that nurture and pleasure do not negate each other; you can have both. As a book "Fresh Milk" ignores the protocols of easy classification and booksellers may be uncertain as to which shelf it belongs. It does break the conventional mould by embracing academia and anecdote, mirth and mythology, fact and fantasy. So much I never knew before about breasts, breast-feeding, lactation, and mothers' milk I discovered in this remarkable book. It is an inspiring, positive, and dare I say `uplifting' journey.
"Fresh Milk" is refreshingly original, amusing and liberating. Oh yes, and it's also erotic.
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on June 25, 2016
This was such a fresh offering in what can be a lot of the same material, book after book. In a series of essays, the author boldly delves into many aspects of breastfeeding and the consequences for mothers, families, partners and babies, positive, negative and unexpected. She did not shy away from topics that might make the reader uncomfortable, inviting them instead to think, challenge their perceptions, and broaden their perspective. There's no pressure to agree, but the table is set in a wonderful format for you to press against the edges of your comfort zone, and come away inspired. A must read!
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on December 19, 2009
If you have any interest in breastfeeding at all, Fresh Milk -- the secret life of breasts is an eye-opening collection of different breastfeeding stories. Touching on everything from the sexual fetishism of breastfeeding to how mothers have successfully breastfed adopted children, Australian author Fiona Giles proves no story is taboo.

And no issue, except of course, breastfeeding itself, and how our Western society has changed it from a natural practice into a pseudo-sexual shame, precluding the continuation of age-old practices like wet-nursing and public breastfeeding. This book is a fascinating read, even for the bottle-feeder.

The collection of stories cover an incident where a woman's baby was breastfed by someone else without consent, a father who used to latch his baby onto his nipple to comfort her, a woman who pumped for months after her daughter died -- donating her milk to a milk bank, children who weaned from their mothers very "late", and men who fantasise about lactating breasts.

Fresh Milk isn't necessarily a pro-breastfeeding book. Included are stories by those who never wanted to breastfeed their babies, those who tried and decided it wasn't "for them", and those mothers who "admitted defeat" after battling hard to create a successful breastfeeding team with their baby. For breastfeeding does take two, and both the baby and the mother need to be able to work in tandem to create a breastfeeding success story.

Breastfeeding is as individualistic as women's breasts themselves, and no stories are alike. This collection of essays and interviews are all centred on people who have been touched by breastfeeding, or its absence. As the author writes, "together they extend the boundaries of what we consider normal when it comes to human parenting. They reveal a glimpse into what lactation means to us, and how it might fit more amply into our lives."

Borrow it from the library, buy it for a friend (giving it away only after you've read it first -- it's an easy one to read through quickly), or keep a copy for yourself. This book will provoke thought and discussion on breastfeeding from all perspectives, promoting tolerance and acceptance of a range of views.
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on January 4, 2014
During the time I was breastfeeding my son, I found few women who would talk about the experience of breastfeeding among my friends and acquaintances. I started searching for resouces where I could learn more about this amazing time in my relationship with my child. This book was a wonderful way for me to learn how others have enjoyed breastfeeding (or not enjoyed it, in some cases) and to delve deeper into the experience.
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on May 8, 2003
I was wandering through the bookshop as a shortcut to the bus stop jingling the last of my change, when I glanced down to an image of soft floating breasts. Quickly checking and adjusting my own to find they were still trapped under the fully buttoned shirt, I reached down to meet my new friend, a glorious book on the mysteries and enticement of mother�s milk.
Our youngest, now a womanly teenager, knows well my evil plan to elevate breastfeeding to the second most important job in the world, so she was happy to use her plastic for the ...purchase.
Why at 49, would I bother breathing in the words of this Fiona Giles? Why would I feel the need to read all Easter then run around yelling �I told you so�, to Uni students, home just to reconnect with school friends? Have we come far enough in our respect for human milk to accept the need for public sharing of lactation experiences?
Fiona Giles has interviewed well, allowing an impressive array of stories to flood our senses. Maybe a submitted email or two was tinged with slightly elevated fantasy, however, all adds to the mix. I hope she has pressed the right buttons to encourage open discussion of the vitality of �white blood.�
Thank goodness we are being allowed to gradually catch up to traditional womens� knowledge of the benefits of breastmilk as a medicine and a life long womens� resource. Any female from adolesence til death can produce human milk, as long as suckling occurs several times a day, or a breast pump is involved. Now, if that is news to you, take a deep breath and read on.
Would you relactate?
Your teenage child develops SARS ...
A Never! Well he shouldn�t have stowed away to China in the first place.
B Maybe. But I�d want to sue someone if I got cracked nipples again.
C Sure. As long as no-one expected me to deliver it fresh from the sack, rather than freshly squeezed.
D Of course. I already freeze my milk and send it to an orphan.
Didn�t turn blue. Then buy Fiona Giles� �Fresh Milk. The secret life of breasts.�
Do I have qualifications to review such an inspiational book? Well, I spent most of the eighties in a nursing bra, but no-one gave me a framed degree. And the most important job? Giving birth, of course.
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on July 13, 2005
If you've ever pondered the contradictions about breasts in our society, this is an engaging book. It is based on the author's research and questionnaires about breastfeeding, and has stories from mothers, husbands, lovers, and adults who recall their own experiences being breastfed. Breasts are highly politicized (e.g. the controversy over Janet Jackson's momentary exposure). The topic of breastfeeding adds heat to the fire, as it blurs the boundary between motherhood and sexuality in a society of ideologues -- from Puritan prudes who think public breastfeeding is disgusting, or too sexy, to some breastfeeding activists who advocate a totally non-sexual role for breasts. Thus, almost anything said by the author would be taboo for someone. Given that many of the author's accounts are anonymous, the coverage is more diverse than one might expect in the public discourse. I liked the story of twin boys who had successful breastfeeding experiences as young children. Later in adolescence they revealed to their mother their attraction to Pamela Anderson's breasts -- just the opposite predicted by some Freudians who believe that sexual interest in prominent breasts is the result of inadequate breastfeeding. Thus, this book has much to invoke a more thoughtful discourse, and to comfort mothers and couples who want to raise their children naturally in our society that is so uptight about breasts.
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on February 8, 2006
I just recently became a breastfeeding mom for the first time and so I have been looking for books on breastfeeding. I've read lots of manuals and was refreshed to find a book on the subject that wasn't a how-to. Fresh Milk covers many different aspects of breastfeeding including the ones not talked about much like breastfeeding an older child, using lactation in the bedroom and cooking with breastmilk. There are stories of breastfeeding adopted children, older children and triplets. There are stories about the pressure to breastfeed versus bottlefeed, breastfeeding while you work and learning how to breastfeed. It's a good read for those people like me who like to know a lot about a subject before they do it. Even the parts I didn't agree with, I still read and tried to keep an open mind about. Reading the book also made my breasts fill with milk and helped me to pump more milk during a time when my baby was away from me.
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on April 25, 2003
I read it avidly upon its arrival and found it generally very interesting.
However, I started to wonder what Fiona was trying to achieve or say by about 2/3rd's the way through.. So many different discussions and unfortunately, many of those NOT by her, left me feeling she did more of an editorial job than actual writing.
And pray tell, since when does an Australian refer to "mom" ? !!
Oh please Fiona, if you want to target Americans, then say so up-front. If you're supposed to be citing Australians, then leave them saying MUM...
A good book, but with areas that may leave you as puzzled as I was... oh - and skip the porn pages - they're not worth reading...
If you want an interesting book, then this is indeed one to read. Just don't expect every page to be rivetting.
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on September 10, 2008
After practicing extended breastfeeding myself, I searched high and low for a book that would actually touch on that experience, rather than merely mention it in tones that insinuate a strange or controversial practice. I came across this book, and bought it immediately.

I was pleased with it overall, although certain parts seemed to drag a bit. I'd definitely recommend this book to those thinking of breastfeeding, those who are new to breastfeeding, and the seasoned "pros" as well.
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