Parenting Book Of The Month: Dr Jack Newman’s Guide To Breastfeeding

A must-have book for every woman who plan on breastfeeding

In a culture like ours, where infant feeding choices are portrayed so sensationally in the media and used to fuel myths like the “mommy wars”, Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding is a breath of practical, down-to-earth, compassionate fresh air. I love almost everything about this book, whose latest edition (2014) is touted as “the definitive, up-to-date guide from Canada’s foremost expert” and I think every woman who hopes to breastfeed should read it.

Co-written with Baby Post contributor Teresa Pitman, an author and past executive director of La Leche League Canada, this book contains everything a new mom needs to know about how to get her breastfeeding relationship off to the best possible start, how to solve problems, and what is normal when it comes to breastfeeding.

Not many women set out breastfeeding while expecting that it will fail. I, personally, have had ups and downs in my own nursing experiences, and have witnessed many, many fellow moms struggle with similar challenges. What is so remarkable about this book is that it’s equal parts instruction manual, troubleshooting guide, and social commentary. This book offers something a lot of other breastfeeding titles don’t – it really gets into the “why” of modern breastfeeding and why it so often doesn’t work out.

It offers a frank, no-holds barred look at how present-day cultural attitudes and formula marketing affect breastfeeding -- compelling, critical information for any woman who plans to breastfeed. This book explains all the subtle and insidious – along with well-meaning but harmful – ways that women are set up to fail at breastfeeding, but makes a clear, evidence-based case for why breastfeeding is worth fighting for.

Some standout chapters for me:

Chapter 2: Finding Good Breastfeeding Help gives tips for determining whether your midwife or doctor is truly supportive of breastfeeding (something you’d think would be no-brainer, but is definitely not always the case).

Chapter 4: How Birth Affects Breastfeeding offers an eye-opening look at how many standard procedures and interventions can have a profound effect on breastfeeding.

Chapter 14: Breastfeeding While on Medication provides a helpful and nuanced explanation of how to decide whether certain drugs (including alcohol) are safe while nursing (sayonara, “pump and dump”—a term Newman calls “a horrible expression because it treats breastmilk as some sort of disgusting fluid”).

Dr. Newman’s advice on many breastfeeding issues is often the gold standard here in Canada, but not all breastfeeding experts agree with him on everything. I’m a huge proponent of breastfeeding, but this book contains certain protocols that, I, having lived through them or seen others live through them, have a hard time accepting as realistic or feasible for many women. And considering that compassionate, hands-on breastfeeding support is (unfortunately) so scarce for many women, I do wish that the book wasn’t so dismissive of the idea of exclusive pumping when nothing else works.

All in all, though, this is a terrific book that I read from cover-to-cover, and still consult regularly. It should be in every nursing mother’s bookshelf.

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