Book Review: The Positive Breastfeeding Book

This book has been recently published and is a fast favourite in my Doula Library. I highly recommend it and lend it to clients who are looking for some reading around breastfeeding and general information on postnatal support. This blog is a more expanded review of why I like it so much!

Positive Breastfeeding Book Sydney Doula

ABOUT THE BOOK
TITLE:  The Positive Breastfeeding Book: Everything you need to feed your baby with confidence

AUTHOR:  Amy Brown

DETAILS:  2018, ISBN 9781780664606

FORMAT: 486 pages, paperback - also available on Kindle and iBooks


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Professor Amy Brown is an academic working in the UK where she heads up the Masters Program in Child Public Health at Swansea University. She has a background in psychology and has a special interest in the cultural, psychological and societal barriers to breastfeeding. Amy Brown has published over 60 papers exploring the barriers women face in feeding their baby during the first year. In 2016 she published her first book 'Breastfeeding Uncovered: Who really decides how we feed our babies', followed by her second 'Why Starting Solids Matters' in 2017. She is a regular Huffington Post blogger, aiming to change the way we think about breastfeeding, mothering and caring for our babies.

Front Cover

Front Cover

WHY DO I LIKE IT?

This is definitely something that I would lend to a client - it is easy to read, supportive and educational. Pregnant women / new mothers are often tired and have limited time / inclination to take in new information. At first glance this book looks bright, approachable and encouraging - it literally says ‘You Can Do It!’ on the front cover. It’s this light and supportive tone that makes me want to share it with clients, if it looks too heavy they simply won’t read it, and then what’s the point? 

It is themed/branded in a similar way to the Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill. The two books are published by the same company but are separate bodies of work and so are not connected at all. A new mum may have read Milli Hill’s book while pregnant and so may approach the book with trust and enthusiasm.  

Back Cover

Back Cover

THE BOOK ITSELF

The Positive Breastfeeding Book is exactly what it says on the cover, and a very useful manual both for breastfeeding mothers and anyone supporting them - and more importantly, something that they are likely to pick up and read. 

Uniquely, the book opens (even before the Chapters pages) with a list of organisations to contact for breastfeeding support and information in various countries, including Australia. This is both practical in terms of being immediately found in the weary postpartum haze and also signals that getting help is a central theme of the book.  

The 29 chapters are then listed in the Contents and they cover a comprehensive range of topics from the immediate postpartum through to ending a breastfeeding journey, broader issues such as sourcing support and normal baby behaviour, as well as specific situations such as feeding multiples, tandem feeding, feeding premature babies etc. So some of this book is universally applicable and some of it can be dipped into if the reader is in those situations. 

The book is fairly long but so well structured and well broken up so that it doesn’t feel like an endless sea of works to get through. Unlike many other books on this topic it isn’t laid out in an ‘ages and stages’ format, instead focusing more on different areas that a breastfeeding mum needs to be aware of. This gives the feeling of a more causal read, more like a dialogue with a friend rather than a specific ‘at this stage expect this’.

It is well written, well structured and well researched. The text reads easily and has some humour which helps to keep the reader engaged. It also doesn’t complicate things - “If in doubt, get them out” is something of a popular mantra in the book.

The writing style is warm, encouraging and friendly and the content is packed with evidence based, practical, up to date and well referenced information. Brown obviously understands breastfeeding and breastfeeding mothers, she doesn’t approach the book from ‘here is all the knowledge I must impart’ but rather ‘what do breastfeeding mums need to know and how do they feel?’. She isn’t so much an instructor on this journey, as she’s a friend on it - and it’s her humour and warmth that makes the book so readable. 

The chapters are interspersed with stories and anecdotes from other mums and professionals and the final chapter is entirely devoted to tips from other mums to the reader - I love this chapter as I imagine mums dipping into it when they’re finding things hard and drawing support and encouragement from these short stories. 

The real mother’s comments and stories that are scattered throughout the book maintain that human as opposed to professional experience. The real life stories shows some of the amazing journeys that women, families and babies can go through, some of them are quite touching and emotional which I think connects the reader to the experience which is both relatable and motivating.  

Excerpts from different health professionals give the feeling that there’s a large community of support to be accessed and that the parents aren’t alone at this important time of their lives. .

Many important areas are covered that are sometimes neglected in breastfeeding books, areas such as baby’s sleep, attachment, carrying etc.These are areas that go hand in hand with breastfeeding bit they are often separated out from this topic.

Following the main body of the book there is a  a further listing of reading and resources - books, websites and organisations. Further reading is then broken down by chapter (and so by topic). This book really stresses additional support and, as I’ve already noted, it is regularly referred to from beginning to end. 

There’s a space for notes at the back, always signposting for more support so that parents know that they are not alone. 


CONCLUSION

While there’s not always a lot of practical information in the book, it is not really a ‘how to’ guide to breastfeeding, more a book that will arm the reader with confidence and knowledge to find the support they may need for themselves. Since it takes a different approach to many texts on the topic of breastfeeding I would likely lend it to a client and then follow it up with a longer held, more traditional favourite such as The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding which is published by the La Leche League. My hope is that once my client has read the Positive Breastfeeding Book she’ll be feeling inspired, confident and open to more information rather than just lending one of the more traditional and (possibly drier?) texts.

Overall, I am very impressed by this book. It’s approachable, factual and encouraging. It covers a variety of specific issues as well as more universal themes and refers the reader to other books, websites and organisations. Encouraging mums to source more support and information is a central theme of the book and one that I believe is hugely important and empowering for new parents.