As a mom of four children, I’ve breastfed for a combined total of 5 years and 9 months over the last 11+ years of motherhood. I’ve learned that there are as many breastfeeding experiences as there are shapes and sizes of breasts, and that, unfortunately, many women experience a lack of breastfeeding support. Many women don’t know anyone who breastfeeds, don’t know where to access good information about breastfeeding, and don’t know where to seek help when things become hard. This was my experience when my first child was born 11 ½ years ago. Though she grew and gained weight well, I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding at all. It was excruciating those first 3 weeks and I wanted to give up every single day. My husband encouraged me to keep trying and after a couple months we got into a good rhythm and things were less painful. But throughout that time I didn’t have the support I needed. I felt alone in my breastfeeding journey, and I think that contributed to the intense postpartum depression I suffered from.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I learned that breastfeeding is never supposed to be painful and that there are a wide variety of resources and support out there for breastfeeding women. While studying to become a doula and eventually a childbirth educator (initially through a different organization) I read countless books about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and babies. I read books like “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” and “The Nursing Mother’s Companion” and while they were super helpful, leading to better breastfeeding experiences with my subsequent children, it wasn’t until this year that I found my favorite breastfeeding book ever, Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett.
There are two main reasons why this book is my favorite breastfeeding book:
The book is thorough, but easy to understand.
Breastfeeding Made Simple covers everything you could want to know, and though that can often be overwhelming for some people, the information is broken up into small segments with titles and subtitles making it much easier to internalize and retain. That same information is then quickly summarized at the end of each chapter, and then consistently referred to throughout the text to help you make important connections while you read. There are lots of helpful pictures and diagrams so that even if you don’t have access to an in person lactation consultant, you have great information to refer back to. I really appreciated this format because it gave me time to pause between ideas and think about my own breastfeeding experiences and the experiences of other women I know. (It also made it easier to read with my kids around interrupting me every 3-5 minutes!)
The reference section is extensive, showing the great lengths the authors went to to provide the most recent, evidence-based information to their readers which is something I greatly value, and the index is incredibly detailed making this book easy to use as a reference guide. So often in books of this nature, it can feel like “word vomit” and you’re left searching page after page looking for that one piece of information you only half remember but felt was really important. You never have to do that with this book! The authors explain concepts simply, but with all the information you need to help you in your breastfeeding journey.
Though detailed, the book is incredibly relatable!
As I mentioned before I’ve read plenty of books about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and babies, and many of them are hard for me to read because they’re either too clinical or too casual. Breastfeeding Made Simple marries the clinical and the casual perfectly! It’s a book I could read over and over again as a refresher and still be as engaged as the first time I read it. At least once a chapter my family could hear me vocalize things like, “That makes SO much sense!” or, “I wish someone would have explained it like that to me when I was breastfeeding!” while I was reading.
Some of the things that seemed so difficult to understand or explain to others were broken down and explained simply, but powerfully, in such a way that it stuck in my mind. For example, they describe the way to latch a baby the same way that you bite a sandwich that is just a little too big for your mouth. You start by opening your mouth wide, setting the sandwich on your bottom teeth, and then rolling the top of the sandwich into your mouth to get a good bite. Getting as much of the breast in baby’s mouth as possible is done the same way. Such a simple analogy, and something most everybody can relate to!
As both a mother and a birth worker, I can emphatically say that Breastfeeding Made Simple is one of the best breastfeeding books out there! This is one of those books that I would buy a case of and gift to couples at every baby shower I’m invited to because it’s that good. Just about every question a breastfeeding mom could have is answered in this book from the history and culture of breastfeeding, to the clinical and emotional aspects of breastfeeding and everything in between. This book is a must-read for every expectant couple and every couple who plans to breastfeed their baby.