Breastfeeding Questions Answered - A Book Review
Doesn't the title say it all for this quirky tome on the breastfeeding experience? Fresh Milk: The Secret Life of Breasts by Fiona Giles offers an odd mixture of hope and despair for mothers struggling with this womanly art.
This book combines first person accounts of breastfeeding experiences with in-depth sociological and psychological exploration of the subject. It is not a book I recommend for new mothers, but one I feel should be required reading for every breastfeeding counsellor.
I first read Fresh Milk two years ago when training as a breastfeeding peer counsellor. I thought it was absolutely fabulous. Then a few months ago when I began my doula training I picked it up again as one of my required reading selections. This time though I was absolutely appalled. The difference was simple...the audience. For a midwife, doula, lactation consultant or breastfeeding peer counsellor, this book offers a diverse view of the breastfeeding experience including a thorough exploration of many of the difficulties experienced by new mothers. On the other hand those same stories may be frightening or discouraging for new mothers before or shortly after giving birth.
This book covers the myriad of emotions and unusual situations as well, including cross-feeding (breastfeeding another person's child), the sexual aspects, and even consumption of breast milk by adults. These stories can be shocking and offensive in Western cultures where it seems as times that breastfeeding itself is barely tolerated. But the book does rise evocative questions about those same perceptions especially the weaning of older children. In a culture where Little Britain openly mock breastfeeding with their bitty sketch, this is a valuable debate.
So if you have successfully breastfed your child and are perhaps a bit curious about the experiences of other women (men and children too) around the world, then Fresh Milk might just be your next step on the journey to self-discovery. And if you are a professional helping new mother's to discover the joys of breastfeeding and overcome the obstacles, then this book is a must read. But be prepared, the content can be shocking and at times offensive to Western sensibilities. In the end though, it is definitely a growth experience.
Who Wrote This Book Review?Terri is the mother of six; 3 caesareans, 2 VBACs and an adoption. She has over fifteen years breastfeeding experience as well as peer supporter training with two organisations. Terri has completed the Childbirth Educator, Birth & Post-partum Doula certificates with Childbirth International. In addition, she also holds a BS in health education from Texas A&M University.
To sign-up for her monthly e-newsletter featuring her latest articles on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting; visit her website: Special start Birth.
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