Friday, September 25, 2009

The Nursing Mother's Companion - Kathleen Huggins

Summary: Breastfeeding may be natural, but it is not always instinctive. The 20th Anniversary Edition of this classic guide to breastfeeding, beloved by a generation of women, has been completely revised and updated to provide even more practical, reassuring advice and support for today's expectant and nursing mothers. Easy-reference survival guides help identify and resolve problems at each stage. An appendix on drug safety is a unique feature among breastfeeding books. (Summary and image from

My Review: I reread this book right before having my second daughter. I read it the first time as I was struggling to get my first baby girl to latch. That never happened. And I'm sure many of you are thinking that this book would then become obsolete for a mother whose baby didn't latch. On the contrary. Thankfully this book includes more than just your run of the mill nursing mother situations.

With my first daughter she had an injury at birth and after 4 months of trying to get her to latch, I realized I had to throw in the towel on my hopes of breastfeeding. There was a big problem with this though. I had started pumping in the hospital, built up a milk supply for triplets (because of some bad info from a well-intentioned nurse), and was then fighting off mastitis. Add to this that my first baby had problems digesting food, specifically breastmilk, which is the easiest form of food for babies to digest. Giving her formula was out of the question--she couldn't even digest breastmilk! I was trapped. Too much milk, infection after infection, and a baby who could only digest breastmilk. This book came to my rescue. It isn't a long section, but it does contain a section for the pumping mother. Everyone I ever talked to said pumping couldn't be done, especially for an entire year. This book testified differently. It gave me tips and helps on how to be a working mom and pump for my child.

With my second daughter this book was more of your typical breastfeeding go-to manual. And I was grateful for it. Truthfully, I don't think you can ever replace the one-on-one help of a lactation consultant. But when you're at home, struggling through learning a process that's supposed to be so 'natural,' this book was extremely helpful.

There are sections that are, to say the least, surprising. I learned a lot of about nursing that I had never had the interest to know. Still, it was informative and helpful. It really does empower a mother with all the facts of nursing, how to build up your milk supply, how to deal with extenuating circumstances, and pumping for your baby.

An aspect of this book that I really liked was how easy it is to navigate. If you have a problem, a special situation, you can find the help you need quickly and easily. It goes month to month with what to expect while nursing. For a mom in hormonal crisis after giving birth, scared you won't be able to feed your tiny baby, you cannot be more thankful for quick help when you're sleep deprived and not thinking straight.

My only regret with this book is that I didn't read it sooner with my first baby. If you're interested in nursing your baby, this is a wonderful resource to have on hand.

Rating: 4.5 Stars. I didn't give it 5 stars because it felt wrong to say it is the perfect guide: nothing compares to hands on help when learning to nurse a baby.

In a phrase: For a new-to-nursing-mom: a great reference book.


MindySue said...

This is an excellent review! I have always had issues nursing my two kids and I actually got the phrase "if you're doing it RIGHT, it shouldn't be an issue". RRRRRRRRrrrgh. Anyway, I'll definitely be referring to this book for my next one.

Sweet Em said...

How interesting, I've been contimplating reviewing the LLLI book "the womanly art of breastfeeding." I have a hand me down copy so it is a decade or more old - and to be honest, is really terrible. It has the "this is so easy and wonderful" attitude. I use the book as a factual reference (what meds I can take) but it always rubs me the wrong way.

This book sounds much better.

P.S. Kari - you pumped for a year!? I'm totally impressed!

Another P.S. Although I can't guarentee this statement I too have found nursing the 2nd baby so much more "natural" than the first. So if you had problems with #1, there is still hope...

Kari said...

Emily: Yes, I did pump for a year. I seem to be the anomaly: I over-produce. It was a torturous year. You do what you have to do when the circumstance requires it. I'm just glad it's over! And yes, the second time around has been MUCH easier! Not a cake-walk, but so much easier.

Amy said...

I am so glad you reviewed this, this is the ONE nursing book I took to and recommend highly. It seems like every other nursing book wants to guilt you into nursing; makes you feel like you are failure if it isn't automatically this earth-shaking spiritual experience. This book prepared me for and helped me to nurse successfully. Helped me through an infection. All with no guilt. Loved it.


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