Book Review: Breastfeeding Naturally

As part of the We Birth Mentorship Program (advanced training for Doulas and other birth workers) that I’m currently participating in, we were tasked for our Breastfeeding Module to research and choose one book that we would feel confident in suggesting to our clients, that is supportive and educational for nursing families. I chose the book “Breastfeeing Naturally” published by the Australian Breastfeeding Association as their guide to breastfeeding – from birth to weaning. I reviewed the Third Edition (2011), edited by Jill Day.

 

Summary of book:

This book is an amazing resource.  It goes into in-depth detail over a huge variety of subjects regarding breastfeeding.  It is published by the Australia Breastfeeding Association (ABA), a not for profit local organisation.  Relevant and current (prior to 2011) research is referenced to ensure the support and information in the book is “firmly grounded in scientific fact” (page 211), and based on practical experience.  The book covers practical, theoretical, social and personal perspectives on all things to do with breastfeeding.  There are many colour images / pictures, tables, diagrams and lists in the book too, which no doubt helps the reader (especially if they are a visual learner).  Selected text in various paragraphs are made bold or even blue, to help make reading this book easier and more user friendly.  There is a fantastic index at the end of the book to assist you finding the information you need faster, and even better, is the three page contents table at the start of the book.  Best of all, this book is easily accessible for readers and can be purchased for a reasonable price through the ABA website.  I’d highly recommend this book to all expectant mums that intent to breastfeed (or even mix feed).  Ideally, they would be able to read it during their pregnancy to help manage their expectation of what nursing could be like, and have it as a reference tool once their baby is born to provide ongoing support as and when needed.  It refers to breastfeeding, expressing breastmilk and the use of artificial (formula) milk where required too.  And of course, the book also offers external resources, like the phone number to reach various helpful organisations or other ABA resources to access further information, and is in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.

With specific regard to the intent of this Book Report, I have used sub-headings below to address the following areas in detail:
1. Maternal child relationship
2. Infant development stages
3. Impact on milk production, breastfeeding function and the family as a whole
4. Use of tone, positive reinforcement and topics that are important for new parents

Amanda the Doula shares her book review of the ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association) book “Breastfeeding Naturally”. Essential Me offers birth doula, postpartum doula, ka huna massage and pilates services in Sydney. Based in Bondi Junction, services are offered across Sydney including Randwick RHW, Camperdown RPA, North Shore and Southern Sydney suburbs.

1. Maternal child relationship:

In less specific terminology, this is referred to frequently in the book from a variety of angles, but mostly from the perspective of the benefits of breastfeeding, and the ways to breastfeed.  I’m choosing a few snippets here to quote to show the various ways the book talks about this, however, I do think it lacks specifically referring to the relationship between the baby and mother, and rather keeps it much more factual and more like a reference guide to instructions and possible expectations.

- Page 39, “Regardless of how you felt about your breasts before pregnancy, the actual experience of breastfeeding and seeing your baby growing on your milk alone can give you new insights into your body and its amazing abilities.”  I especially like this quote as it helps the mother go back within herself to see how her amazing body is working and functioning, and how she can grow a human (first with pregnancy and now with breastfeeding) and help her baby thrive.

- Page 74, “Having your baby sleep next to you, or nearby, makes it easier to respond when he stirs for a feed.  You’ll quickly get to know his cues.” This is in reference to night feeding, and I love that it acknowledges the need to get to know your baby, which in turn builds and nurtures the mother child relationship.  It also sets an expectation to wake frequently during the night.

- The mission statement of the ABA, page 5 “We influence society to acknowledge breastfeeding as normal and important to parenting and the physical and mental health of babies, children and mothers.”  Again, this doesn’t refer specifically to the maternal child relationship, however, it suggests that breastfeeding will support both mother and baby in their relationship with each other and life.

 

2. Infant development stages

For this part of the book review, I’d like to reference pages 192-194 of this book, in Chapter 18, under section “Ages and stages: the changing needs of your baby”.  It mostly talks about how mothers can return to work and focus on the needs of their baby with regard to breastfeeding (directly, expressing and mixed feeding) and it breaks up the needs by the age of the baby.   Specifically referring to returning to work and how to incorporate breastfeeding is a very real issue in today’s society here in Australia, and I think addressing it in the book is an important point to bring up in this book review.

These are the section, and I’ve included my favourite quote from each:

- Newborn: birth to 6 weeks
It can take 6 weeks or longer for mother and baby to get used to breastfeeding and get to know each other.  The more your baby breastfeeds, the more milk you will make, so it is important in the early days to be with your baby whenever a feed is needed.

- Young baby: 6 weeks to 6 months
It is helpful to know that an exclusively breastfed baby’s daily intake of breastmilk does not increase much as she grows bigger.

- Growing baby: 6 months to 1 year
Let your baby breastfeed as often as she needs on your days off, before and after work and in the evenings.

- Older baby: 1 year plus
By this time you will probably have a routine so that your child has solids, water, expressed breastmilk or other milks while you are at work and breastfeeds when you are together.  There is no need to give her artificial baby milk after the age of 12 months.

The section also refers to accessing a copy of the ABA’s leaflet called A Caregiver’s Guide to the Breastfed Baby.  This could be a useful tool for any mother to share with a childcare worker, or even a family member that is helping to look after her baby so she returns to work, feeling reassured and confident in the knowledge that her baby is being fed in the way she prefers.

 

3. Impact on milk production, breastfeeding function and the family as a whole

The factual side of things are detailed well in this book specifically around:

- Milk production (eg quotes below from “supply and demand” page 44-45)
Follow your baby’s feeding cues and don’t limit her time at the breast: that’s all you have to do”  and “Your breasts are never actually empty… producing a constant supply.

- Breastfeeding function (including how to feed and latch, how to express, ways to work through challenges like engorgement and sore nipples, and how to wean… plus quote below from “what’s in a breastfeed?” page 46)
Every mother’s breastmilk is uniquely programmed to meet the particular needs of her own baby.  For example, the milk of mothers of premature babies differs from that of mothers of full-term babies.  If she and her baby are exposed to bacteria or viruses, the antibodies she makes quickly enter her breastmilk to protect her baby.

- There are sections such as “sex and breastfeeding” page 117, which obviously would impact the family as a whole.

 

4. Use of tone, positive reinforcement and topics that are important for new parents

This book uses a supportive tone, with conversational language, that encourages breastfeeding with a combined understanding that modern day factors often impact our lives (such as returning to work, lacking the village we once had and finding your new community), and provides a framework for mothers to do their best with their personal circumstances.  It puts the power of choice into the mother’s hand, and one line in particular from the introduction on page 9 really grabs me:
Only you are able to make the decisions that work for you and your baby.” 
I love this because it gives the mother permission to make a choice that is right for her, and having this book on hand means she will be informed in the best methods and options around breastfeeding, the reasons to do so, and the motivation to continue to breastfeed. 
A multitude of topics are covered that are important for new parents, including:

- Considering how long each feed should take and how many weeks/months/years to feed for

- How to manage tricky times or challenges around things such as sore nipples or mastitis, or if you have twins, or a child with a disability…

- Looking after yourself as a new mother that’s breastfeeding (including exercise, medication, drugs, alcohol, sex, sleep…)

- Baby-led attachment, how to express and starting solids

 

I’d like to finish this report with a beautiful quote from the introduction to the book on page 9.

We know that breastfeeding is important for babies, mothers and families.  Breastmilk provides a unique blend of ingredients that only the human body can produce, in the combination and quantity that your growing baby needs.

If you’re keen to purchase this book, it can be found here.

Amanda the Doula shares her book review of the ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association) book “Breastfeeding Naturally”. Essential Me offers birth doula, postpartum doula, ka huna massage and pilates services in Sydney. Based in Bondi Junction, services are offered across Sydney including Randwick RHW, Camperdown RPA, North Shore and Southern Sydney suburbs. Massage services and Pilates classes are also available, and Amanda specialises in VBAC support.
Amanda, a Sydney based Doula, shares her book review of the ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association) book “Breastfeeding Naturally”. Essential Me offers birth doula, postpartum doula, ka huna massage and pilates services. Originally in Bondi Junction, services are offered across Sydney for both home and hospital. Massage services and Pilates classes are also available, and Amanda specialises in VBAC support.
Amanda the Doula shares her book review of the ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association) book “Breastfeeding Naturally”.
Essential Me offers birth doula, postpartum doula, ka huna massage and pilates services in Sydney. Based in Bondi Junction, services are offered across Sydney including Randwick RHW, Camperdown RPA, North Shore and Southern Sydney suburbs.
Sydney Birth Doula Amanda also offers Massage services and Pilates classes. Amanda specialises in VBAC support and waterbirth.




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About Essential Me

Hi, I'm Amanda.  I support women and couples during their pregnancy, birth and postnatal journey as a Doula, Ka Huna massage therapist and Pilates instructor.  I'm Based in Sydney and would love to help you.  Please check out my Top 10 Tips for the best possible birth experience here.  I'd love to meet you for an obligation free interview to see if you feel we're the right fit.  Contact me here. Thanks, Amanda x