Ina May Gaskin is perhaps the most well known midwife in America. She is experienced, and respected for her knowledge and years of experience so I decided that even though her book was not the one I saw most often in the used book store that I frequent that it would be the first book I would read on the topic. So I picked up Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding and got reading.
The beginning of the book is very practical. It speaks to the bonding period after birth when breastfeeding is initiated along with the basics on how mother and baby learn this practical art. Methods are discussed in details followed by discussions of problems one might encounter and what to do when they occur. I love these practical details since I am not only educating myself on a topic of interest to me, but I am also using the books as an instruction manual for things I will need to do in my new life as a parent. The steps are interlaced with personal stories which keeps the book interesting as well as reinforcing the behaviors taught.
A unique feature of this book is it goes beyond the practical knowledge of breastfeeding to also discuss topics such as the history of breastfeeding, wet nursing, and shared nursing. Through her stories I realized just how much breastfeeding practices have changes over time, and how even though breastfeeding is regaining popularity, how much society has moved away from practices that were once deemed normal and healthy.
As this realization became clear, I reached the chapter called Nipplepobia which recounted stories of breastfeeding in modern America. Frankly it worried me on a practical level. I began to think of "safe" places I could go with my baby where no one would notice I was nursing when I needed to. I also became angry at the the stories of mothers told not to nurse their baby. These stories were recounted from public spaces to women hiding in their cars in the back of parking lots. I don't like the conflict of a situation like this, but when I have the intention of feeding my baby on her schedule I feel like it is inevitable. This inevitability is disappointing, and opens my eyes to the importance of normalizing breast feeding in our society.
This book was not only an informative learning experience for me, but I also see it as being a useful reference as I start to breastfeed my baby in the months to come. With a good overall knowledge on the subject I can see myself picking up this book again to review details or troubleshoot problems that may occur during the process.
You can check out the other books I have read and reviewed here. I am also always up for recommendations so chime in if you have one!
* This post contains affiliate links, but I was not paid by the manufacturer to review this product - I just like it! I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255. Images courtesy of Amazon.