Before those life changing blue lines appear on your pregnancy test, you may not have considered the political and highly emotive issue of how you will feed your baby. Maternity wards give you the “hard sell” on breastfeeding, but due to resourcing issues there is very little support available to help you learn this essential parenting skill. This book gives you the kind of realistic, sympathetic and practical advice and support that your midwife would, if she were able to stay in your life for longer than a few days.
The title: The Food of Love (and the cheeky subtitle the formula for successful breastfeeding) gives the reader a flavour of what is to come. It’s a humorous book, on an important subject, that doesn’t take itself seriously. There are many books in this genre that focus on telling women what to do, and try to act as an instruction manual. It’s true that some mums want this, but Kate Evans makes the point that as every child is unique, no one book can tell you what your child thinks or feels or needs: as his or her mother, you know best.
At the start of the book, Evans confronts exactly why we as a society are squeamish about breastfeeding. Our culture sexualises women’s breasts to such an extent that getting them out in public for their primary function – to feed a baby – is seen as weird. Looking at other cultures, Evans highlights how strange this attitude is, and invites the reader to challenge her assumptions about her body.
Given that most of the other pictures that breastfeeding mothers have at their disposal are rather sterile, medical diagrams, Kate Evans’ humorous pictures are a breath of fresh air and clearly show suggested breastfeeding positions that look achievable to the first time mother.
However, what also makes the pictures (and the general attitude) in this book so great is the unapologetic portrayal of what women’s bodies look like post partum. Yes, the breasts in the pictures are a little saggy. The women are not stick thin. The new parents in the cartoons are exhausted, sitting in rooms that are not immaculate. Evans is determined not to peddle the myth that breastfeeding takes no time at all and is a miracle cure for baby weight. In fact, one of her main points is that there is nothing wrong with the shape or size of a woman’s body that requires a “cure”!
The book acts as a guide to breastfeeding positions and techniques through the use of funny cartoons and down to earth tales of her own and her friends’ experiences. Evans also tackles common problems breastfeeding mothers encounter, and practical issues like feeding in public and the effect it might have on your sex life.
If there is one problem with this book, it’s that when Evans strays off topic and into general advice about being a new parent, she does tend to ramble. The book can read like a newspaper article from a Sunday supplement rather than a book.
On the other hand, her light heartedness is what makes the book easy to read, especially when she deals with heavier topics like depression and stress. All in all, Evans gets the balance right between factual and fun.