A search on Amazon.com for “breastfeeding books” gives a result of over 9000 entries. Obviously, you don’t need to see all of them, but you should buy at least one. One good book can serve as your resource center: a place to prepare yourself for the job ahead and a place to find answers when things go wrong.
Many of the How-To books are very similar in that they all contain the same information. It just depends on how you like your information delivered. Some of the books are very factual and give you information in an orderly fashion. Other books paint you a picture of how breastfeeding works. Some books are written by doctors, nurses, and/or lactation consultants while other books are written by Moms, like me, who “have been there”.
Below is a quick review of the few (not 9000!) books I’ve read.
The Complete Book of Breastfeeding by MS Eiger, and SW Olds.
This book has been around for 20 years and has over 1.5 million copies in print. It is in its third edition and has been totally revised to include up to date information. This book is a solid. It starts with giving you information so you can decide whether or not you want to breastfeed and goes through all the topics to the end of the book which discusses how to wean your baby.
I recommend this book in that it is full of information written in a matter-of-fact way. The photos are nice to look at, whereas the line drawings are informative and useful. Approximately 300 pages, $10. See book here.
The Nursing Mother’s Companion by K Huggins
When it comes to popularity, this book comes as a close second. It is in it’s 5th edition and contains pretty much the same information as the Complete Book of Breastfeeding but distributed differently. Generally, the book has 4 sections:
- First Week,
- First 2 Months,
- Two to 6 Months, and
- Beyond 6 months.
It is written well, pleasant to read, and provides a positive outlook even in special circumstances (for example, a baby with cleft lip). Given that a woman has enough time (baby has not arrived yet), I can envision that she may read the book cover to cover. The book is about 200 pages with an additional 30 pages of references, appendixes, and index. See book here.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International
The original book was written by the 7 founders of LLL and contained advice & stories from these mothers. Now, in its 7th edition, the book also includes data from scientific and medical research.
The good part about the book is that it contains a lot of information that is related to, but periphery to breastfeeding. The bad part about the books is that it contains a lot of information that is related to, but periphery to breastfeeding.
If you want a book that gives you information in a snappy, to-the-point way – this book is not for you. This book is more holistic: breastfeeding in the context of family life. Topics are not distinctly categorized into chapters, rather they are spread out in more than one section of the book. In many ways, the book mirrors family life: a mix of everything all happening at once. Perhaps the book should be called the Womanly Art of Parenting. About 500 pages, $12, See book here.
Breastfeeding Naturally by Hannah Lothrop
Hannah Lothrop had her first baby in 1972 when women were still encouraged to formula feed their babies. Hannah was dismayed at how little information was available for women who wanted to breastfeed. She started to collect information from pediatricians, nurses, midwives, councilors, and mothers. She also did a lot of research. Armed with this information, she wrote a book so that woman can have access to her pool of knowledge.
The book has as much information as the Complete Book of Breastfeeding (and perhaps a bit more) but it is written from the perspective of a woman who’s “been there”. Speckled throughout the book are stories and testimonials from other mothers who have comments to share. Approximately 250 pages plus 30 pages of appendices, index and resources. See book here.
Breastfeeding Pure & Simple by Gwen Gotsch.
Gwen Gotsch is a librarian but she has worked with the La Leche League for over 25 years. Her book is well written and gives a nice fuzzy-warm rendition of how beautiful and fulfilling breastfeeding can be. The book covers a good amount of material: all of it told in a flowing manner rather than a checklist. Problems related to breastfeeding are addressed, however, they are presented in a mild manner as if “these things happen, but don’t worry…”
This is a good introductory book which I would buy for a friend, sister, or wife who is pregnant but has not decided whether or not she will breastfeed her baby. It’s short enough that someone could read it cover to cover and feel good about the experience to come. See book here.
The Nursing Mother’s Problem Solver by C. Martin.
This book is designed for women who are already nursing and wish to have a book that answers their questions and concerns. It is in a Questions and Answers format and topics are in alphabetical order. For example, if you want to know if you can drink coffee while breastfeeding, simply look under “caffeine”. If you want to know if you can give your baby a pacifier, look under “pacifier”.
This book is good to have on your bookshelf as a resource and it is good for causal reading too. You can always learn something from other people’s questions. Approximately 325 pages. See book here.
Fresh Milk: The Secret Life of Breasts by Fiona Giles
This book is off the beaten track! It speaks of breasts and breastfeeding in a context that no other books does. This book explores “the other side” of breastfeeding: topics that clearly exist but no one talks about because it is either weird or taboo. For example: A man brings his daughter to his chest so she can suckle and calm herself. Men who desire lactating women. Women who are sexually aroused when they breastfeed. And yes – using breast milk in coffee, pies, and ice cream.
This is not one of those How-To breastfeeding books. Don’t buy this book if you are easily offended and queasy about breasts and breastfeeding. But if you want to understand that sliver of society which exist but is not represented, then this is the book for you. Although you may not agree with everything said in the book, it’s an eye opener and you will surely learn something about breasts and breastfeeding that you cannot learn anywhere else. See book here.
Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields
Brooke Shield is a famous movie star; she recounts her experiences during fertility treatments, C-section delivery, and postpartum depression. Tom Cruise, another famous actor, made a negative comment regarding the book and suggested that postpartum depression was not a real medical condition. Debate ensued and needless to say, the book got a lot of publicity.
Despite all that, the book is very well written and is a good, easy read. It gives you a glimpse of what postpartum depression is about. It talks about the medications that Brooke took but it is not a technical analysis of the condition. About 250 pages, $8, See book here.
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- Nursing Clothing
- Nursing Pillow (Boppy)
- Breast Pads and Breast Shields
- Lanolin Cream
- Slings and Baby Carriers
- Bassinets and Bedside Cribs
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