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Book Review: The Maternity Leave Breastfeeding Plan

PhotobucketTo be honest, I didn’t really pay much attention to the title of this book before I started reading it. I kind of thought it had more to do with transitioning from maternity leave back to work and continuing to breastfeed, but supposedly the point of this book is exactly the opposite: enjoy three blissful months of breastfeeding then wean when you return to work.

That isn’t my plan but for some reason I stuck with the book anyway. The thesis of the book pretty much seems to be: give breastfeeding your all while you’re on leave, then don’t feel so bad about yourself if you have to stop when you go back to work. Dr. Wilkoff reminds the reader over and over again that weaning at three months is in no way failing. He believes that taking the pressure off to breastfeed for the recommended year will result in a more relaxed and productive career of breastfeeding during leave.

I’m torn between appreciating his desire to make the reader feel successful, no matter how long her breastfeeding career lasts, and feeling really talked down to and patronized. Like I’m not strong enough to come to grips with my situation of not being able to breastfeed past a certain point. With Kiddo1 I only made it five months but I, like the vast majority of mothers who have to stop short of their goal, realized that my situation couldn’t be changed and my breastfeeding termination was inevitable. Maybe I’m just too/more stubborn than some women and refuse to feel bad about myself.

Needless to say, there are some things I didn’t pay much attention to, like the whole stopping after three months thing. Luckily, Dr. Wilkoff does give a short chapter about continuing to breastfeed after returning to work (he is quick to point out that pumping and working and the energy drain that ensues is a challenge). It’s funny that he’s so intent on not making the reader feel like a failure if she decides to wean upon her return to work, yet he isn’t so encouraging if the reader decides she’d like to continue.

An additional tid-bit I didn’t really like is that Dr. Wilkoff doesn’t give much credit to collostrum (the pre-milk of the first few postpartum days). The Everything Breastfeeding Book and the book I just started, Nursing Mother, Working Mother, seem to think more highly of this substance.

These dislikes aside, the middle of this book contains fantastic tips on getting started and confronting challenges with breastfeeding from the start. Dr. Wilkoff walks through the first few hours, days and weeks of breastfeeding with so much detail that I’ve never received before! Even when I was breastfeeding the last time!

I wanted to jot down a few of my favorite tips. These are more notes for myself to look back on and remember because I’m sure I will forget most of the valuable information from this book over the next few weeks!

  • Accept the uncertainty of nursing.
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Try a variety of positions (this not only enables you to find a few that work but helps empty your breasts and increase production from all ducts).
  • It’s okay if baby wants to sleep a bit more than eat for those first few days (but make sure it isn’t a sign of infection). Wake baby up every few hours to attempt a feeding.
  • If you have to supplement with sugar water until your milk comes in, always offer it after a feeding and offer with a syringe/tube combo rather than an artificial nipple.
  • Nurse on demand for the first couple weeks, don’t worry about any sort of schedule (I was totally obsessed with establishing a schedule ASAP with Kiddo1). The more often you nurse, the sooner your milk will come in and your baby will start gaining weight.
  • Don’t become a pacifier. In other words, don’t let baby associate nursing with sleeping time, otherwise she’ll believe that the only way to fall asleep is to nurse. Allow baby to learn to fall asleep on her own. (This is one of my main baby strategies. I used it with Kiddo1 and he learned to fall asleep on his own very quickly and slept “through the night” ie skipped one night feeding by five weeks old. He’s always been an awesome sleeper.)
  • Growth spurts will shake up the feeding schedule. Go with it.
  • Introduce the bottle at around one month, after breastfeeding has been firmly establish but before baby is so used to the breast that she may stubbornly refuse to take the bottle. Introduce it gradually; eventually she will take it.

Some good stuff in there – so much to remember! Who’d have thought such a natural act could be so complicated?!

Bottom line, the middle of this book is great! But the other parts, eh, I could do without someone telling me how I should feel about myself.

Next review: Nursing Mother, Working Mother: The Essential Guide to Breastfeeding Your Baby Before and After You Return to Work by Gale Pryor and Kathleen Huggins

2 responses »

  1. I think setting realistic goals is one of the most important points! It is hard to do as a newcomer to breast feeding but some important.

    • That’s good for me to keep in mind. I’m such a goal-setter in most aspects of my life (especially at work and with my projects at home). I’ll have to make sure I keep that up! After all, breastfeeding is like the ultimate project, right?


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