World Breastfeeding Week 2012, I'm offering the chance to win a free copy of a wonderful new book on breastfeeding: Breastfeeding - Stories to Inspire and Inform, edited by Susan Last and published by Lonely Scribe. To enter all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post - more details at the end of this review.
Susan Last is a breastfeeding peer supporter and the mother of three breastfed children. The book begins with her informed and thoughtful introduction, in which she writes very cleverly and concisely about the politics of breastfeeding, it's value, and the main myths that surround it in our current society.
The rest of the book is filled with over twenty women's stories of their breastfeeding experiences, and offers a wide and fascinating variety, from nursing a premature baby, to twins, to tandem feeding, and many more. In every tale, the women write passionately of both struggles and triumphs, of what helped, and what didn't, and of the unique bond that makes it all worth while. The stories are interspersed with photos and some really lovely quotes about breastfeeding, all of which gives the book a warm feel that would make it a perfect gift for an expectant mother.
But the book goes deeper: as I read I could not help but feel what a vivid picture it paints of the reality of breastfeeding in the 21st century Western world, and how it should also be read by midwives, health visitors, politicians, and anyone else whose work might impact on the success or otherwise of a new mother and baby's breastfeeding experience. Shining through the stories comes love, strength and perseverance...but there is also a great deal of doubt, and a worrying amount of bad advice, so much so that editor Susan Last took the decision to 'asterisk' what she calls 'potentially unhelpful myths' when they occur in each story, and refer the reader back to her introduction.
In many of the stories women are undermined and misinformed by the very people who are charged with their care. These unhelpful comments range from the infamous UK Health Visitors - obsessed with outdated charts and determined to recommend Formula top-ups, to the disgraceful words of one US Midwife who told a new mother, vomiting during nursing due to post-operative drugs, that 'something Freudian' was going on. In all cases, the women's stories show just how powerful and damaging negative comments can be in a world where women are already unsure of how to breastfeed and often very isolated.
Well informed support, sheer determination to do what feels right, and positive encouragement emerge as essential to successful breastfeeding - as Susan Last points out: "...for mothers who are struggling, it's just one person, saying one thing at just the right time, that can make all the difference". This book could well fulfil that role. I hope it is widely read, not just by new mothers, but by those who profess to wish to help them.
This giveaway is now closed. The winner, picked at random using random.org, is Muslim Mummy. From her comment she seems a very fitting winner and I hope the book helps her to enjoy successful breastfeeding the second time around.
If you were not lucky enough to win, readers of The Mule can buy a copy at the reduced price of £11 by sending a cheque, made payable to Lonely Scribe, with details of their name and address, to:
Lonely Scribe, Welwyn, Bermuda Avenue, Little Eaton, Derby, England UK, DE21 5DG.
Alternatively the book is available on Amazon UK and USA.