I don’t doubt that “breast is best,” but I am disturbed by the social pressure in some (primarily middle and upper-middle class) areas to breastfeed.
I worry about the problems some women have breastfeeding, the difficulty of balancing breastfeeding and work outside the home, and the challenge of finding a safe and comfortable place to breastfeed outside the home.
I’m still a Mama-to-Be and haven’t made up my mind yet, but want the right to make my own decision without lectures from breastfeeding activists/friends. Occasionally, I’ll sneak something into the Friday Playgroup (this and this) that shows my mixed feelings. Andi Silverman of Mama Knows Breast responded to one of my posts with a friendly offer to share a review copy of her new book, Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide to Breastfeeding.
Andi’s book covers all the basics in a reassuring manner with straightforward advice on how to breastfeed (positioning, a proper latch, burping, how to tell if the baby is getting enough milk) and what can help (how to find a professional lactation consultant, how to handle sore nipples, and what to buy to increase your comfort while feeding).
Even better than finding a good breastfeeding 101 resource, Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide to Breastfeeding had exactly the right tone. While Andi Silverman chose to breastfeed, she is respectful of other women’s decisions. She outlines both the best and the worst things about breastfeeding while addressing common concerns. For example, she has helpful suggestions on how to involve fathers in the feeding process in order to lighten the load on mom and help him bond with baby. She also explains how to handle breastfeeding if you plan to return to work outside the home.
I also found the breastfeeding etiquette section helpful. Some people, myself included, are naturally a bit shy. I don’t want to feel confined to my house for months, but I’m also not comfortable with the idea of breastfeeding in public. Even though she observes that it is not illegal to breastfeed in public, Andi acknowledges that not everyone is comfortable doing so. For those women, she has some helpful suggestions- finding a dressing room at the mall, a neglected aisle in a bookstore, or using a scarf or blanket to cover up. She also provides suggested responses to nosy and rude questions, such as a store employee who asks a woman to leave for breastfeeding. The suggested response run the gamut from polite to indignant, so you can pick the one that works best for your situation.
It’s rare to find a parenting book that’s both extremely informative and non-judgmental. I especially liked the conclusion: “No matter what anyone else says- and they’ll be sure to say a lot- you’re the one who decides how to feed your baby. You’re the Mama, and Mama Knows Breast.”
I found Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide to Breastfeeding extremely helpful, and I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to any expectant mother pondering the breast/bottle decision or new mom struggling with breastfeeding.
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