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The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding Paperback – July 13, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 8 Rev Upd edition (July 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345518446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345518446
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (433 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Since 1955, when La Leche League started in the Chicago suburbs with seven women intent on spreading information about the benefits of breastfeeding, it has grown into the leading breastfeeding advocacy organization in the world. La Leche League International regularly holds seminars and workshops for health-care professionals and parents, and publishes more than twenty books on child care.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

Nesting


"When I was two, my mother came home from the hospital cradling two mysterious bundles wrapped in soft blue blankets. One was my new baby brother. She handed me the other. Underneath the folds of that soft blanket was a beautiful doll, which my mother explained would be my special baby. My father followed her with a red wooden rocking chair that he placed near my mother's rocking chair. I vividly recall watching my mother breastfeed my brother, and I followed her every move to be sure that I was feeding my own baby properly, even though my breasts looked nothing like hers. My mother and baby brother gazed at each other adoringly during the feeding. I looked down at my own doll, whose eyes closed when she lay on her back. I wanted that lifeless doll to be real. I told myself, "I can't WAIT to grow up so I can feed my own baby!"

"Twenty--five years later I gave birth to my first child. The day I came home, I sat in our wooden rocking chair, and as I held my son close and nursed him, he opened his eyes to gaze at me. At once, an overpowering recollection of that early childhood memory returned, and tears began to flow as I realized, "THIS is what I have waited my whole life to do!" --Cathy, remembering 1981

WELCOME TO OUR "La Leche League meeting in a book"! At a real meeting, you'd see a mix of pregnant women, mothers with new babies, and moms with older babies or children. You'd hear questions from women at different stages of motherhood. Some of it would sound right to you, some of it would answer questions you didn't know you had, and some of it you'd shrug and leave behind. We hope you'll do the same with this book.

The cornerstone of La Leche League (LLL) meetings is addressing questions. While a book can never match sitting around with other mothers, we can address some of the typical questions at different stages, and tell you what mothers often share from their experience, along with the research behind it all.

This first chapter of our "meeting in a book" begins with the questions pregnant mothers often have about breastfeeding. Even if you've already had your baby, the answers to these questions should make you feel good about what you're doing and tell you more about why breastfeeding is such a great thing to do.

"The newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of [his] mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three."

--Grantly Dick--Read, MD, from Childbirth Without Fear, 1955

Is Breastfeeding Right for Me?

The closer you are to meeting your new baby, the more you're probably thinking about what comes after birth. You're "nesting"--gathering the things your baby will need and making a place for him in your home. Those outfits are so cute! That changing table is precious! But while you're out shopping, your body is quietly preparing the real "nest" your baby will need--your breasts. They'll be all he really needs at first--his go--to place for warmth, security, comfort, love, and, yes, food. As cute as the outfits and decor are, what your baby will care most about is the way you and your body protect and nurture him.

Breastfeeding is far more than just a way to feed your baby. It's the way you're naturally designed to begin your mothering experience. So why doesn't it always come naturally? Some of your friends may have told you all about their tough experiences. Maybe your mother couldn't breastfeed and you wonder if you'll have trouble, too. The great news is that we've learned a lot since your mother tried. We've learned more about understanding and respecting the instincts that you and your baby both have. We've learned that the fewer interventions you have during birth, the easier these instincts will be to tap into. And La Leche League is always here to help you work through any issues that come up.

Maybe you want to breastfeed because you know it's best; science keeps finding new ways breastfeeding helps babies reach their potential and protect their mothers' health. Maybe you want to because it just feels right; every mother finds for herself all the little ways that breastfeeding brings her close to her children. Whether the urge comes from your head or your heart, breastfeeding is right for you. And it's definitely right for your baby.

How Important Is Breastfeeding, Really?

Extremely! There is almost nothing you can do for your child in his whole life that will affect him both emotionally and physically as profoundly as breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is also important to our own bodies. We can't think of an aspect of your baby's health that isn't affected by breastfeeding, and it affects a surprising number of your own health issues as well. This would be a much longer book if we described all the ways that breastfeeding is valuable for you, your baby, and your family, but here are a few highlights.

Your Milk Is Your Baby's Normal Food

There's no formula that comes even close to the milk your body creates. Your milk has every vitamin, mineral, and other nutritional element that your baby's body needs, including many that haven't been discovered or named yet, and it changes subtly through the meal, day, and year, to match subtle changes in his requirements. 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--infectives. 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!

Without his normal food, a baby is at higher risk of ear infections, intestinal upsets, and respiratory problems. Allergies and dental problems are more common. Vision, nerves, and intestines don't develop fully. Because of all these differences (and many others not listed here), a formula--fed baby has a different metabolism and a different development, and gains weight differently during his first year. His kidneys and liver work harder to process the waste products from formula. He needs more of any medication to get the same effect. His immune system's response to vaccinations is less effective. The risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome or crib death) and infant death from many other causes is higher if a baby isn't breastfed.

As an older child or adult, he is at a greater risk of Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. He responds to stress more negatively and has higher blood pressure, both as an infant and in later life. There's a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis in later years. There are numerous IQ studies showing deficits in children who didn't breastfeed, or who didn't breastfeed for long.

Colostrum, the milk you produce in small amounts in the first couple of days after your baby is born (and which you started producing during your pregnancy), has concentrated immunological properties that are your baby's first protection against all the germs he is suddenly exposed to. This "first milk" contains high concentrations of secretory immunoglobulin A, or SIgA, an anti--infective agent that coats his intestines to protect against the passage of germs and foreign proteins that could create allergic sensitivities. Scientists have also recently discovered a new ingredient in human milk called pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor (PSTI), which protects and repairs the infant intestine. It's present in all human milk, but it's seven times higher in colostrum, providing extra protection to that delicate and vulnerable newborn intestine. Think of colostrum as a complex paint designed to seal those brand--new intestinal walls (which were, of course, designed to receive it).

Colostrum has an acid level that encourages a baby's intestines to welcome just the right mix of beneficial bacteria. And 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.

Mature milk, which phases in during the first two weeks, has a still--unknown number of ingredients that contribute to lifelong health. Along with the interferon, interleukins, white blood cells, and SIgA, the breastfed baby gains an immune system nearly as sturdy as his mother's. Human growth factor continues to develop those intestines, bones, and other organs. Insulin for digestion, long--chain fatty acids for a healthy heart, lactose for brain development--it's all there. And just as important, it's there in forms that are available to a baby. Iron is added to formulas in forms that the baby can't readily use and which can actually be harmful since it increases the risk of intestinal infection, intestinal bleeding, and anemia.

The mechanics of breastfeeding are important, too. When your baby breastfeeds, the muscles in his jaws are exercised and massaged in a way that causes the bones in his face and jaw to develop more fully. The jaw that results from bottle--feeding and pacifiers is narrower, with a higher palate that's more likely to restrict nose breathing. Babies who use pacifiers, instead of soothing themselves at the breast, are more likely to need speech therapy later. The child who breastfeeds for less than a year is much more likely to need orthodontia later on. Snoring and related breathing problems are more common as well.

Your baby can design his own meal to suit his needs. If he's thirsty, he nurses for a shorter amount of time and gets a lower fat milk. Still thirsty? He asks to switch sides sooner and gets another thirstquencher from the other side. Extra hungry? He stays longer on the first side or nurses more vigorously, to pull down more highercalorie fat globules. Going through a growth spurt? If your baby takes more milk than usual, he'll have more milk available the very next time he nurses. If he drinks less than usual, y...

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Customer Reviews

The book has made me feel very confident.
lclaws13
In short, I would recommend this book because it does have very good information and is divided into short, easy to read sections, making it a very easy read.
Ryan Beaver
If you need any help with breast feeding, then you HAVE TO get this book!!
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

145 of 163 people found the following review helpful By lclaws13 on December 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not bf'ing yet, but as an expectant mother I wanted to get some info before trying to deal with it once the baby's here. The book has made me feel very confident. It has all the info you need.

However, even though there are chapters about pumping for going back to work, the authors really push their agenda that you're not doing your baby any favors if you don't stay home with him. One section had me in tears (and I do blame the hormones, not the book) saying that "if you plan on going back to work, it's ok because you might change your mind once you get there." I felt like in many different sections they go on and on about how it's so hard to leave your baby and the baby will have so much stress if you take it to a baby sitter or day care.

I would love to find a good breast feeding book that gives all the info found in this one without sentimental judgements. I am going back to work, and I think today it should actually be expected that most working mothers will return. This is the best I've found towards making it seem like it's going to be ok, that I will be able to do this, but I really with they would have left their personal opinions on how bad it is to leave your child to go to work out of it.

Edited to add: I'm now going strong at exclusive breastfeeding to a 20 week old, 18 lb baby boy. And that includes pumping 3 times a day for the past 9 weeks that I've been back to work. Although I do attribute this book towards helping with that, talking to other bf'ing moms on websites like The Bump and [...] is key! Also, and although I get flack for this from my ff'ing friends, the best advice I got was that if I was 100% dedicated to bf'ing, don't look at formula as an acceptable option. I never even kept any in my house.
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188 of 215 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie R. Roberts on January 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is well-intentioned, and it does contain some very good information about breastfeeding. But the tone is extremely judgmental about women who choose ANYTHING other than a completely natural childbirth, exclusive breastfeeding, cosleeping, etc. The message is this: You'd better love it. It's a blissful experience. If it's not, you're doing something wrong - and your baby will suffer for it. Not every mom is lucky enough to have that experience, and for those mothers, this book imparts huge amounts of fear and guilt.

My labor had to be induced three weeks early due to a pregnancy-related liver condition that put my baby at risk. So there's strike one - labor inducing drugs. I ended up getting an epidural (the only part of the experience that I could have avoided if I'd been strong enough to take the pitocin-induced contractions without it.). Strike two - more drugs. My baby had to be delivered by forceps and was not placed on my chest immediately after birth, but was taken to the incubator to be evaluated. Strike three - we missed that initial bonding. He nursed a bit before we left the delivery room, but later had breathing trouble and had to remain in the NICU. While he was there, he got some of my colostrum and milk but was supplemented with formula. Strike four. If I took this book to heart (which I did), my bond with my brand new son would always be inferior.

Even once we got home, we struggled with breastfeeding for the first few months. He was never given formula again, but I felt horrible that I wasn't blissfully enjoying the experience, that it wasn't super easy for him, and that at times I wanted to give up.
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44 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 17, 2010
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I've been waiting for the new edition for the past year or so. When it came in the mail this week I dove into it immediately. I used information from the book at our LLL meeting that very evening and have used information with moms I've counseled since then. While retaining the voice of the earlier editions in a way that is very comfortable to someone who started off with the "old blue WAB" this new book combines evidence based research, new insights of lactation consultants, input from working moms, and simply scads of new suggestions. The basic message remains the same "mothering your baby through breastfeeding," but this volume is so comprehensive, that it's much more of a stand alone than the older versions (which really were enhanced by being supplemented by books like Mothering Your Nursing Toddler, the Breastfeeding Answer Book etc). It's not that those other books don't still have a place, although the BAB is really in need of updating as well. It's just that now the most important information from those volumes, along with a lot of other information as well is now in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I'd give this book a far higher rating than a 5 if I could. It's a one volume guide that will help mothers and fathers better understand their baby, better understand why breastfeeding is the normal way to feed their baby, better understand how to get past bumps in the road.

A big well done to the authors!
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46 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Natalie Michalik on August 23, 2011
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This is a great book for convincing new mothers to breastfeed. But that's not why I bought it... I was looking for information about HOW to breastfeed, what the typical problems are and how to deal with them. All of this takes up maybe one chapter in this book - the rest talks about how breastfeeding is great for getting your child to sleep etc. If you're looking for a how-to on breastfeeding, this really isn't it.
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