Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers is by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC. This is the first breastfeeding book I’ve read by actual lactation consultants and, let me tell you, I can tell the difference! So much of what I thought I knew or what I have been told about breastfeeding was clarified or even dispelled by this book.
The authors explain information they’ve gathered into seven natural laws: things that are inherent in every breastfeeding baby, mother and, thus, the breastfeeding couple. What’s so great about this book is all the information about the baby’s perspective. Babies are hard-wired to breastfeed (that’s one of the “seven laws”) so they come with a whole set of instinctual movements and behaviors to facilitate breastfeeding. A touch on the chin will cause their mouth to open wide, a touch on their feet will cause them to push themselves up to the breast, etc. I’ve never read about these things in any other breastfeeding book, and they really can make or break some of those first sessions together! For example, if you’ve got baby’s feet pushed up against something and he or she keeps pushing out of position, that could get very frustrating if you didn’t know why!
Based on some of the baby instincts I read about, I started making just a small change to the way I held Baby2 when feeding her. Suddenly she went from eating five minutes at a time to at least 10, sometimes 15 minutes. I’m not sure if she’s getting more milk (hopefully she’s not just being less efficient!) but I feel better that she’s eating in longer stretches. All I changed was just to pull her belly in tighter to my chest. Her belly was always facing me but we weren’t really smushed together. Now if she slows down or stops eating, I just pull her close again and she gets back to business!
There were only a couple things I didn’t like; one, there were numerous mentions of babies needing to make several “stools” a day. That freaked me out because, at the time, I was in the midst of Baby’s first dry spell (she went five days without a poop!). It is unusual yet completely normal for breastfed babies to go longer between bowel movements (my pediatrician keeps reassuring me). I wish the authors would say that several stools a day is normal but as long as your baby is gaining weight and all other healthy indicators are present, breastfed babies can go up to two weeks without a poop. Baby2 now poops about once every other day (and it’s a whole lotta poop when she goes!).
Also, I think that, while each of the laws are explained in good detail, to a mother who is really struggling with breastfeeding it may seem like an over-simplification of sorts. The authors have an underlying theme that anyone can breastfeed, no matter what, which isn’t always the case. There are a couple ladies in my moms group who have seen half a dozen lactation consultants and nothing is working. So the authors’ assertion that simply obeying the natural laws will solve all their problems may be a little off the mark. I think these two moms I know would find this very frustrating.
But it is great that some of the standard mantras that doctors give nursing mothers are explained and usually clarified as untrue. For example, feeding every two to three hours doesn’t make sense, at least in the first few weeks because milk production is at its peak in the morning and slows at night (which is why so many babies cluster feed in the evenings). That sort of schedule also does nothing to help build supply in the first month, when baby should be eating as often as possible so that the breasts know how much milk they should make. Did you know that supply is generally set as of baby’s one-month birthday? And that babies will eat about the same amount of breast milk at six months of age that they ate at one month of age? I had no idea!
I only wish I had read this book while I was still pregnant, but it’s never too late to learn more about breastfeeding. I feel like I’ve been able to apply the knowledge I’ve taken in order to strengthen Baby2 and my breastfeeding relationship. I’ve been searching for the go-to breastfeeding book and I really feel like this one is it. Highly recommended!
Next review: Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin