Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Great Book on Breastfeeding

Today I again began a classic book that was among precious few that I initially brought overseas with us: The Nursing Mother's Companion. What a gem!

As I was reading it this afternoon, I realized I'm not sure I've ever mentioned this book here at Making Home. Each time we have a newborn, I pull this book out to have as a ready reference for the first few weeks. Kathleen Huggins deals in detail with preparing for breastfeeding (i.e., what to look for in a nursing bra, how to share information with the people around you so that they understand your desire to breastfeed), offers encouragement to the mom-to-be about benefits and blessings of nursing, specific instructions on nursing positions and basic how-tos of breastfeeding, and (what I appreciate most, and why I pull it back out with each new baby) has a large section of the book devoted to how to deal with potential challenges and problems that may arise.

I still remember the full month of mastitis I experienced when breastfeeding my first baby. I can remember tears streaming down my face as I nursed him, because of the horrible pain. I wondered if it would ever stop. Huggins' suggestions (like warm compresses, and air-drying after feedings) turned things around and also gently encouraged me that this, too, would pass. I remember having my husband read the instructions from Huggins' book out loud to me as I tried to position the baby correctly.

As modern moms, we encounter such conflicting advice, and it is so easy to make decisions that will end up thwarting your desire to breastfeed your baby. Following bad advice can negatively affect your milk supply, or end up discouraging you at just the times that you may need to press on. Having breastfed all of our kiddos past a year, I definitely am pro-nursing, and it makes me sad just how many times well-meaning relatives (or even doctors!!!, which completely baffles me) end up hurting a mom's chances to nurse long-term by giving bad advice, or sharing stories that aren't actually relevant to the mom who is struggling through those early weeks with a new baby. That's why a book like this is just so valuable... Huggins helps to address real concerns, real pains, and gives point-by-point specifics on what to look for to accurately identify which issue you're facing, and then offers well-tried, step-by-step details about how to solve the problem.

My old version has cheesy pictures and dated illustrations, but the information inside is just so helpful. In the back there is also a drug-interaction chart that is helpful for those middle-of-the-night headaches or pains when you want to run to the medicine cabinet but aren't sure if it will pass through breastmilk. (Incidentally, it looks as if there's a 25th anniversary edition coming out soon.)

If you're a pro at nursing, you may not need this book, but if you're a new mom or soon-to-be, I highly recommend this book. It's been invaluable in our home!


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