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I can't give this book 5 stars because it annoyed me so many times, for valid reasons I will explain.
Despite that, I must give it 4 stars because it educated me so well on breastfeeding.
To explain the positive: this book is a wealth of information about breastfeeding. I know many women who stopped breastfeeding due to reasons cited in this book. Had they read this book they may well have found solutions to their problems and continued breastfeeding.
I feel well-prepared to breastfeed our baby, reading this book was like doing my homework, I feel like I studied the subject well and will know what to do if any problems arise. I also feel I will know how to prevent problems from happening. After reading this book, I even feel more confident that I will succeed in my goal of breastfeeding for a year (or a year and a half) thanks to the tips and techniques in this book.
The book is EXTREMELY informative, useful, my copy is dogeared and I'm sure I'll revisit it for information as I begin breastfeeding.
I cannot reiterate enough times HOW MUCH I LEARNED from this book. I deeply appreciate that. So, I give 4 stars. I would have given 5 except for the following things which I disliked:
1) The authors continuously make cases for breastfeeding, in defense of breastfeeding, & reiterate (ad naseum) how bad formula is. I KNOW this. My mom breastfed me and my 4 siblings. I come from a family of breastfeeding women. I wholeheartedly believe in the extraordinary benefits of breastfeeding and plan to give our baby breast milk for health reasons. I don't like the idea of formula unless absolutely necessary, (but to you formula feeders out there, don't be offended as those are simply MY feelings, for MY self. I don't push my beliefs on others at dinner parties or on the street lol).
2) They are CLEARLY proponents of "attachment parenting" which I do not agree with. I am NOT baby wearing round the clock. PLUS, our baby is blessed with an affectionate, loving, sweet, gentle man of a father anyone could ask for and he will also feed our little one pumped breast milk from bottles. They really leave fathers out of the equation and clearly don't like the idea of sometimes bottle feeding the breast milk so mom can get a break (and so Dad can bond with his little one!) also, if the dad sometimes feeds the baby, the baby will more likely accept milk from the father, bedtime with father, if father sometimes handles night feedings, and also baby sitters. There is very little support or mention on others bonding with baby. Dad may as well not exist. But there are a lot of amazing fathers out there!
3) They don't believe in mom taking breaks. They clearly think you must get up to breastfeed for years on end. They do not care if mom ever sleeps through the night ever again, they actually talk about you waking up for night feedings way down the line (two years) when your baby can certainly sleep through the night without a feeding.
4) They are not into bottles at all. They seem to think bottles and breast pumps are so inferior to your breast because your baby has to be glued to your body day and night, because they need skin on skin contact blah blah blah. I know that the longer breast milk is stored in the fridge or freezer, the more it loses antibodies, but sometimes a bottle of breast milk is a help!
5) They repeatedly advise cosleeping, which is not feasible for everyone.
6) They seriously try to argue that babies should be breastfed for YEARS, until they decide to wean. I kid you not. They talk about nursing up to five and seven years. I found that kind of gross, and I personally was breastfed by my mom until I weaned quite late (almost 2 years old). Still, the concept of a child in kindergarten breastfeeding is strange to me.
They even cite a research study that children who aren't breastfed until age 3 have a much higher death rate. It's not referring to American children who have good food and water. I'm sure if you live in a third world country with contaminated water and poor food supply, breastfeeding would make your child healthier. But to say that we should breastfeed for 3 years or risk compromising our children's immune systems is pretty far fetched. I aim to give our child two years of breastfeeding, and perhaps continue to pump milk for the sake of the antibodies and nurtients. I don't see why giving cow's milk would be better than human mama's milk in a sippy cup.
7) As some other reviewers noted, there is an underlying, not-so-subtle, continuous pounding away at the need to constantly breastfeed, to constantly give give give to your baby, to be always attached, to sleep with, etc. It is rather overkill.
So, you ask, why do I give 4 stars to a book that clearly bothered me and put me off so much? Because the information on breastfeeding was so excellent, I slogged through the muck in order to absorb all that information so I can put it to use for our baby's benefit.
If you edited out all that biased, repetitive, sometimes far-fetched material, you would be left with a fine compilation of comprehensive, detailed, useful, and obviously expert advice. I can imagine many a mother saved by reading a paragraph in the book. There are countless gems of advice.
It was well worth the read.
I have now been exclusively breastfeeding our baby since she was born, over 6 months ago. We started introducing solids at 6 months (as recommended by the World Health Organization) but she's not too interested in solids yet. Which is ok. Breastfeeding is going great and she's absolutely thriving, mentally, physically, and emotionally. The advice and knowledge from this book has been extremely helpful.
Again, the book did help me a few times when we were confused about quantities, supply changing, what was healthy, what was normal... tips and pointers, and also, holy COW! Cluster feeding, WOW, the book helped me stay steady during those crazy cluster-feeding times, when we called her a "milk-a-holic" so the book was a huge help, despite the nutty stuff in the book that I mentioned.
I also helped me avert problems when she had a bout with jaundice at birth and they tried to get us to give her formula, but I knew from the book that it could cause problems so I insisted on them giving me a hospital pump and I pumped and fed her colustrum with perfect success, so she was able to just breastfeed and I maintained my milk supply. My friend didn't know to do that, and the same thing happened to her in the hospital and it messed up the breastfeeding relationship and despite her devoted efforts, her supply was lowered and she has had to supplement breast milk with formula ever since, which was problematic as her little one didn't tolerate ANY formula well, had stomachaches and vomited up even the most expensive, organic stuff on the market, but she doesn't have enough breastmilk - would you believe, I was able to donate some of my extra milk to her baby - what an honor to be able to help out.
Also my baby had a minor surgery at age 3 weeks and was to be separated from us during the operation and unable to eat for 12 hours but thanks to this book, I knew to demand a pump to maintain supply and prevent engorgement.
This book also helped me prevent any clogged ducts, pain, chapped nipples (hint - use breast milk - no need for the fancy creams I was given, just dabbing some breast milk on after each nursing worked better).
So, 4 stars for immense value and dearth of information. 1 star deducted for annoying, far-fetched, extreme views, and repetition.
PS: be advised there is nothing "simple" in this book, other than the word "simple" in the title. It is like a text book on breast feeding, and it made me aware how much more complicated breast feeding is than I ever imagined! But it gets easier and easier and it makes our baby so happy and comforted!
So... Good luck to all you families out there, in feeding your sweet babies (: