This book is just like a great big hug and pat on the back from your best friend at the time you most need it !
I almost didn't read this book. I breastfed my two daughters for 6 months and 8 months respectively so I thought, ah, been there, done that, got the (milk-stained) Tshirt - it's like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs ! But then baby bundle of joy number 3 burst into my life last week and along with him, all the old self-doubts and minor panic attacks on a daily basis, not helped at all when the staff at the hospital put the pressure on.
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, and when it works with no effort, it's fantastic. It's got so many benefits for mothers and babies, not to mention, in these credit-crunch times, it's a real money-saver. It is so rewarding to feel that you are giving your baby the best possible start in life and you get a real sense of pride when you see him getting big and strong and knowing that it's all down to you and your very own milk. But the downside is, when it doesn't work first time, or when people start making you doubt yourself, you suddenly start realising what a huge responsibility it all is and thinking eeek, I'm the only thing standing between me and my baby dying of starvation ! It sounds extreme but don't forget you've just given birth and your hormones have gone ballistic !!
Having twice succeeded relatively long stints at breastfeeding, I'm pretty chilled out and know I can do it, so I was luckily quite well armed against the "attacks" of the midwives. I know they only had the best interests of my baby at heart, but they really know how to put the pressure on and make you doubt your capabilities to be a good mother ! I was told we'd be going home 4 days after the birth, but because my milk took 2 days to start flowing (which is perfectly normal) and his (perfectly normal) weight loss ever so slightly exceeded the 10% "allowance", I was given the ultimatum, get his weight back up or you'll have to stay in longer. Talk about emotional blackmail !! So the last day in hospital was endless visits from the midwives "reminding me to feed him" (duh), weighing him morning and night, forcing me to wake him up every 2 hours for a feed, waking me up at 5am to find out when I'd last fed him (1/2 hour before, thanks for asking). It worked, he put on 70g in 24 hours and we came home as planned but all that stress was for nothing ! So I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read that baby would lose "about" 10% of his birth weight and take up to 10 days to get back to his birth weight - but I did know that this was exactly the kind of reassurance I wanted to hear right now and that for first time mums, it must be even more beneficial.
Sharon Trotter has more than 20 years experience as a midwife and 7 years in total as a breastfeeding mum, so she knows what she's talking about. But she doesn't put herself up on a pedestal, telling us how it all works in a perfect world and setting high standards or norms to aspire to. She talks to you like a friend, sharing the good and bad bits, telling you about the mistakes she made, encouraging and reassuring at every page. I love the little personal anecdotes and family photos. There are links for further reading or information online. The text is divided up into two columns of writing on each page, like a magazine article, so it's easy and quick to read (when trying to fit a few pages in in between feeds and with little sleep, it makes all the difference !) I read the book from cover to cover and it was a real confidence boost. It would make a great gift for a new mum or mum-to-be, especially for a first timer but even us "old hands" can still learn a thing or two. Thanks Sharon, you're a Godsend !!