The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
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176 of 198 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2010
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. BF'ing was so, so hard the first 4 weeks (then again at weeks 7-8 when he had a cold and couldn't latch, so I was cracked and bleeding) but I was 100% dedicated to doing this, and stuck with it. If you are ok with going to formula if it doesn't work out for you, it might be harder to stick with it if it gets painful and it seems like they nurse for HOURS at a time! Good luck to all the mommies who are going to give it a try. It's amazing when you finally get it all figured out!!

Updated 5.4.14
My second son was born in August of 2012, and although I ended up breast feeding my first for 15 months, I was unable to bf my second. He was born at 24 weeks, and never learned a sufficient suck/swallow pattern. He is tube fed, and I exclusively pumped for 20 months to be able to provide him with breastmilk. For some, pumping is the only option, so I fully stand by my first review of the book.
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236 of 268 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2012
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. I had an oversupply and an overactive letdown that made it stressful for both of us, despite measures to correct it, and I know I was lucky that that was our biggest problem! Perhaps if I hadn't been sleep deprived and full of postpartum hormones, I wouldn't have taken so much of the book to heart. But that is going to be the case for the majority of the audience this book is targeting.

My son is now six months old and exclusively breastfed. It's much easier now than it was at the beginning. I pump for him at work and he hasn't had a drop of formula since we left the hospital. He and I have bonded perfectly and I adore him more than I dreamed possible. He's perfectly healthy and at the top of the growth charts. Yet I still cannot think of this book without feeling the guilt.

I'm giving it three stars because it does have very helpful information, and it is backed up by research. I would, however, encourage moms to get the full story on the research if you can. It is very easy to manipulate statistics to support an opinion. I'm not saying the authors did this, just that there is often more to the story than a simple "more likely." A 5/100,000 chance vs. a 1/100,000 chance of complications is "more likely", but the overall risk is still negligible. Again, I'm not saying the authors are being untruthful, just that it helps to have the complete picture when making a decision.

Please, if you read it, realize that many, many people's labor and delivery, and postpartum experience, does not follow their textbook. And that is OK. Your relationship with your baby will be fine. If you can't breastfeed for some reason, your child is not doomed to a life of poor health and low IQ. And despite what the authors of the book would have you believe, there really ARE women who can't breastfeed, many for reasons that consultations with a lactation consultant wouldn't change.

The most crucial thing is the unconditional love and affection that you give your baby. If they are held and loved and know they are secure in the arms of their parents, then you are doing your job.
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49 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2010
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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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2011
I LOVE this book! Really. The info within is great. Another reviewer or two complained about the fact that the book frequently tells you to call your local LLL chapter- but personally I think they missed a major message. The point of reminding the reader, frequently, to go to LLL is to offer community- a live person to help you when you're worrying. All parents fret, and if it's a first time experience then you're twice as likely to fret. Calling someone and having a local support network will make all the difference when you're experiencing uncertainty. The advice is excellent, and the book is well organized. It's written in a way that's engaging, and includes excerpts from other mothers. I think the book is nearly five star- here's my only hesitation... I think the book, the No Cry Sleep Solution is also excellent, and when it comes to getting your baby to sleep better this book is frequently a bit at odds with that one. This book recommends not giving sleep patterns a thought, allowing the baby to fall asleep at the breast, and/or fall asleep in arms all the time. I agree that these things are wonderful for bonding, but... you need to mix it up, so to speak. Once in a while (as explained in No Cry Sleep Solution) you need to take the baby away from your breast and put them down before they fall completely asleep or your baby will think the only way they Can sleep is at your breast or in your arms. Lets be realistic, as much as we love our children (and I agree wholeheartedly with attachment parenting) we cannot Always sleep with our babies. I believe in co-bedding, and I believe that a baby under 4mo should be going no more than 4hrs without nursing... but as they get comfortable and start to nod off, gently remove the nipple - lay them down near you... or you'll be 18mo down the road still waking every two hours. I recommend the two books together, so that you don't accidentally 'overdo' the nurture thing. No, you canNot spoil a baby at this age- I agree! and you should respond to All of their needs quickly and lovingly- but you can teach them good sleep habits without relying on clocks, crying it out, or other things that are harsh. You can nurture your baby and still teach them gently. This book doesn't chastise such methods, it just doesn't mention that there are gentle methods to gain more sleep while still seeing your little angel prosper. Anyone can survive the first 4mo of weird sleep- but after a year you'll be near tears, and that won't help your baby. The breast feeding advise and the rest of the book are Top Notch- but do yourself a favor and pick up The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night as its companion.
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62 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2011
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2010
This book, although huge, is very organized. It's logically in order for a pregnant mother to read, with soothing comfort about how your body is actually working to prepare to breastfeed during your pregnancy. It contains informed consent about options for during your birth. There are chapters split up dealing with specific ages of babies and what you can expect and tips for dealing with these times. The entire book has an empathetic tone of encouragement and empowerment. All of the issues are indexed in the back of the book so it would make for a great reference for any nursing mother to have on hand.
I consider myself to know more than most women do about breastfeeding. I read many books while struggling very much to breastfeed my baby, saw several pediatricians and a few IBCLC's, and eventually it all worked out and now my nursling is 2. I've provided breastfeeding mentorship for over a year, and I participate in several breastfeeding groups. I wish this book had existed 2 years ago, as it would have answered a lot quickly for me. It's as though the authors took the very best tips from many different knowledgeable experts in the field, and combined them all into this one masterpiece. For those of us who love to read even more detail, the many scientific references are in the back of the book. Also, as you read along in the book, other books are listed if you want to read more about specific topics. I checked out probably 20 baby books from my library, but only found a couple that I liked and felt right for my own family. It was great to see only the best books recommended in this masterpiece.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is filled with the most current science about breastfeeding - how if your baby is exposed to a virus even while away from you, at your next feeding the baby's saliva communicates with your body to make the antibodies the baby needs and send it through your milk. How the actual act of nursing physically helps to develop the baby's jaw and palate and make more room for teeth. How using pacifiers does NOT reduce the risk of SIDS. How you do not need to give baby special "baby foods" when you start solids, but can take a relaxed healthy approach and offer the foods your family eats. It has tips on how to get better sleep, how to lovingly set boundaries with your baby, and support for standing up to attacks from others.
Like the La Leche Meetings (mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group) that I've attended, this book had a very "take what works for you, and leave the rest" type of warm and accepting attitude. Filled with encouragement to trust your own mothering instincts, with advice that you know your baby best, this book will be a great confidence boost to many mothers.
There are beautiful illustrations throughout the book. Also helpful pictures of latching, positions, how to counter-pressure (I sure could have used that in the early days!), laid-back breastfeeding, etc. I also enjoyed reading that the book was written with breastfeeding normative language.
This book is absolutely amazing. Inspiring. Sprinkled with great little anecdotes. Make sure you get the 8th edition - the newest version, as it's a complete rewrite from previous editions. In the back, they have "tear-off" reference sheets - summations of some important and useful sections. Such as milk storage guidelines to post on your fridge, a handout for your daycare about handling your milk, even a handout for the grandparents that made me laugh but was exactly what I could/would have used!
Thank you to the authors. I'm amazed and impressed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2010
This book is full of the best information available for breastfeeding. Lots of helpful ideas and evidence based info! What every mom needs!!
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2010
I am overjoyed to read this edition of the Womanly Art. While the older editions were useful in their way, I found that they read more like textbooks. This wonderful edition is like sitting down with a friend who knows nearly everything about breastfeeding, parenting a baby, and what to do when it isn't going the way you wish it were...and the answers are easy to find, too, along with references and resources. Many thanks to the authors for making it fun and easy to read!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2010
I am really enjoying this new copy of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, with all of the new content. I own the previous 3 editions also. While I've read extensively on breastfeeding and breastfed my own children, there is new content and new information here that I've found to be quite helpful. The authours have an effective and creative way to communicate Even the creative style of presenting some of the information is compelling. For example, it is important for continued breastfeeding success to breastfeed very often, offering generously to baby. The authours have discussed this aspect of breastfeeding in a way that "speaks to women" helping them understand the legitimacy and benefits both to mom and baby in frequent feeding. The explanation of the hormone ckk found in breastmilk which helps baby fall asleep is a helpful one. (p. 107) Basically baby can get a higher level of chocystokinin from simply sucking, fall asleep nursing, but not necessarily be full. A new baby, who may also be an inefficient nurser (learning how to breastfeed takes time) may fall asleep at breast nursing, and then need to nurse again 5 minutes later. This sort of cluster feeding is within the range of normal but this sort of normal baby nursing behavior can be concerning to some moms and others.
p. 293 has a good discussion on hand expression of milk.
p. 309-310 has milk storage guidelines
p. 344 has a discussion on Kangaroo Care with recommended resources
p. 294 -- extensive section on pumping. Learned a lot here.
It isn't unusual for women to encounter situations where they are pumping and bottlefeeding, relactating, breastfeeding an adopted baby, breastfeeding following a breast reduction, breastfeeding and bottle feeding, and the new WAB speaks to all of these situations positively, with lots of detail and recommended resources.
Did you know that when baby is exposed to a virus, the breast will actually make antibodies to the virus to give to the baby via breastmilk?
Did you know that different herbs including sage, parsley and peppermint oil can cause a drop in milk supply? (p. 335)
There are lots of website recommendations and other book recommendations for various topics, including sites to help determine drug compatibility with breastfeeding.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2010
As a long-time La Leche League Leader, I read or scan most every new book on breastfeeding so that I will know what new mothers may be reading. Sometimes the material is so familiar that I have a hard time staying focused and I skim over the surface. However I am completely engrossed in the new Womanly Art of Breastfeeding! I have read 6 of the 7 previous editions but this is something new. While retaining the by-mothers-for-mothers flavor of previous editions, the authors have made a fresh start.

One new feature is a 'Tear-Sheet Toolkit.' It is pages you can pull out and post on the refrigerator, give to a relative or day care provider, or just keep handy for quick reference.

Maybe I'm too old to judge accurately but I think this book is just right for 21st century mothers. The authors know their stuff. They understand the science behind breastfeeding and the cultural practices that make it tough for new mothers. They each have a great deal of practical, hands-on experience helping mothers. This enables them to present information in a manner most likely to be meaningful and accessible. The aim is to empower each reader with information necessary to define her own goals and then achieve them.

I haven't finished reading the book but I'm too enthused to wait to review it. I may write more when I'm done. The Womanly Art will be my companion in the airport and on the plane as I fly this weekend. I can hardly wait! My gratitude to the authors.
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