Books about breastfeeding always have a hard task ahead of them, because it is easier to demonstrate the skill in person than it is to explain in words. However, one of the problems facing many new mums is that, unlike our ancient ancestors, they do not have a sister or cousin on hand to give a first-hand demonstration. This book is the best on the market when it comes to describing the best techniques for problem-free feeding.
There is no political agenda behind this book – it is already taken as read that you have decided that breast is best. This means that the text does not have the evangelical air to it that some pro breastfeeding books adopt. It is more of a manual than a discussion, but the “baby-led” part of the title makes it clear that there is no pre-determined routine that you must seek to impose on your child.
Before you became pregnant, you might have wondered how on earth anyone could fill three hundred or so pages with information about breastfeeding. However, if you are a new mum who is keen to learn how to do it, you will be very glad that Rapley and Murkett have done so!
Rapley has a background as a midwife and health visitor, and Murkett is a writer by trade, so the book has the right balance between solid information and style. They take you through the science behind breastfeeding and then speak about what it will actually feel like, and most importantly of all, how to get yourself and your baby into the right position.
Perhaps the most valuable part of the book to any new mother is the centre section with photographs of babies rooting for the breast after birth, and step by step instructions about how a baby will latch on correctly if pointed in the right direction. It is lovely to see pictures of women of all backgrounds, shapes and sizes breastfeeding normally, because feeding rates are sadly so low in the United Kingdom it is still so rare to come across a nursing mother in a restaurant or café. Hopefully, books like this will give women the confidence to feed in public and make the sight a commonplace one.
Until you experience the steep learning curve that is involved in the first few days of your life as a parent, you may not perhaps appreciate the reasons that Rapley and Murkett have included photos and descriptions of what a newborn baby’s poo should look like! However, as a new parent, you will eventually become a connoisseur of poo, and at some point there will be a nappy that causes you concern and alarm when its contents seem to have an unusual colour. Readers of this book will be well informed, and know what to expect after reviewing this particular section!
Of course, breastfeeding does not always go smoothly, and problems with latching on or infections like mastitis can cause intense pain and discomfort. If your baby is ill, this can also interfere with their feeding, and this is something that a breastfeeding mother needs to be alert to. Rapley and Murkett go through potential problems in detail, but also have quick reference sections at the end of the book for ease, when sleep deprived parents need a quick answer in the middle of the night.
Whether you want an in depth guide or a quick flick through, this book tells you everything you need to know about breastfeeding.