Judging by the vast array of parenting books which are available these days, I’m guessing I might be in the minority having only read two books of this genre. Both of these books relate specifically to breastfeeding and I’d like to recommend one of those books to you in particular…
‘Breastfeeding made Easy’ by Carlos Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is a rather elusive fellow on the internet. I suspect the websites with the most information are spanish which is why I was only able to find the same few lines about him on a number of english speaking websites.
A father of three and paediatrician, he also founded and is President of the Catalan Breastfeeding Association (ACPAM), he currently gives courses on breastfeeding for medical professionals.
This quote from Annalisa Barbieri’s article in The Guardian perfectly sums up his way of thinking with regards to breastfeeding and parenting in general…
“I think the problem is that things like how to feed your baby, and child rearing and co-sleeping are not part of the science of medicine. We don’t learn that at [medical] school. Mothers in Spain go to doctors to ask how to raise their child. But we we study diseases and treatments. What doctors know about baby raising is what they’ve learned as people, from their mothers, or their own professors – sometimes the advice can be 40 years old!”
It was after becoming a father that he realised that there is more to parenting than what he had previously learned at Medical School and wrote “My Child Won’t Eat!’ and later, ‘Kiss Me!’.
So, what did I think of his book on breastfeeding?
It was really interesting reading the book from the point of view of a breastfeeding peer supporter and even though my knowledge of the breastfeeding basics is pretty good, I learnt much more about how everything works in a way I am now able to explain clearly to the Mums I support without blinding them with science at a time when they have complete information overload.
Throughout the book, Gonzalez dispels all the myths surrounding breastfeeding and I am so enthusiastic about this book and breastfeeding in general, I could happily go through them all for you here but that would mean you wouldn’t be tempted to buy the book and it would be a rather long blog post too!
Gonzalez explains the complexities of how the breast works in ways which are easy to understand and once you understand these few principles, it really helps in getting breastfeeding established. It is also a good gauge of how much the health professionals you meet know about breastfeeding too. If they are suggesting a path which interrupts the way breastfeeding works, you can assume that they don’t know enough about breastfeeding to treat you and you should find support elsewhere. If they are suggesting a path which compliments breastfeeding, then you can trust in their judgement and the support they offer.
Anyway, I digress a little but here is how Gonzalez explains the age old worry women have about not producing enough milk…
“A system that adapts constantly to the baby’s needs, producing more milk when the baby wants more, and less when the baby wants less. A system that goes on producing milk for as long as baby needs it and then stops producing it when baby stops nursing, that produces enough milk for one if there is only one baby, and for three if the mother has triplets”
“The amount of milk a woman produces doesn’t depend on her race, or how much time has elapsed since she gave birth, but rather on how much her baby feeds”
On breast size…
“the varying amount of fatty tissue that produces different-sized breasts; the glands are always more or less the same size, and size has nothing to do with the breast’s ability to produce milk”
On the worry your milk will run out after frequent feeds…
“The breast doesn’t work like a toilet cistern that has to fill up again before it can be flushed. It is more like a tap: when you want more water you open the tap more.”
On Breastfeeding in Public…
“Few things are more boring than a breast seen from the outside. If you have seen one you have seen them all” Wouldn’t it be fabulous if this attitude were taken by those who see breastfeeding in public as offensive.”
I found his section on ‘Prolactin’ really enlightening as I knew the levels of prolactin were higher at night and they affect milk supply but didn’t really know why exactly. He explains why trying to increase the length of feeds won’t up your supply but that more frequent feeds will.
He clears up why making a baby wait for feeds and restricting night feeds, especially during growth spurts, is so detrimental to milk supply. So many women are told by health professionals and well meaning friends and family to make baby go longer between feeds then wonder why their milk supply drops forcing them to supplement when they wouldn’t otherwise need to.
Using little scenarios, Gonzalez simply explains complex biological functions which makes for an enjoyable but educational read.
The way he describes the mythical ‘foremilk’ and ‘hindmilk’ is excellent…
“there is no moment at which the skimmed milk is finished and the whole milk begins. The amount of fat (and therefore calories) increases gradually”
“To start with, the baby takes fewer calories from more milk; at the end, more calories from less milk…The time depends on the speed at which the baby feeds: he may take two or three minutes to get as much milk as he needs, or more than twenty minutes.”
His thoughts on feeding schedules (which I think is particularly genius!)…
“ An expert sitting at home and writing a book a year ago or a hundred years ago, or the doctor who saw your baby last Thursday and recommended you stick to a schedule, can’t possibly know whether your baby will be hungry today at 2.25pm.”
There are far too many points I could discuss with you from the first two chapters never mind the whole book which discusses an extensive range of breastfeeding topics. I found it a really easy and enjoyable read too and found myself loving Gonzalez by the end of it.
I (and Gonzalez) recommend checking the up-to-date recommendations on which drugs are considered safe to take whilst breastfeeding. Gonzalez mentions LactMed and The Breastfeeding Network (my first choice for UK based info) which are great online resources for information on what you can take for a range of illnesses and they are constantly updating their websites in line with the latest research. It is also worth checking your rights with regards to returning to work in the UK with Maternity Action as Gonzalez writes from a Spanish point of view.
As a ‘parenting’ book, I absolutely love it and can honestly say I would definitely buy it myself having now read it. It is based on scientific fact by a professional who really knows the field they are discussing. I think it is a brilliant buy for anyone interested in breastfeeding from a professional or peer supporter point of view to a new mum or mum to be. It would also be a brilliant resource for anyone wanting to support a mum and I definitely think that Dad’s would benefit from reading this book too. I would be really interested to know what I would have thought about it if I had read it five years ago when I was pregnant with Spud and knew nothing about breastfeeding so I asked my sister to read a few chapters to see what she thought.
“ It is really easy to understand and once I’ve read it, I can now explain to others how things work. I would find this book really helpful if and when I have children”
So all in all, a brilliant and informative read and you could win yourself a copy if you hop over to my facebook page and like this photo.
You also need to like the Pinter and Martin facebook page and in the event that you don’t win, Pinter and Martin have offered my readers 30% off the purchase of ‘Breastfeeding Made Easy’ with the checkout code bmeblog30 and you will also get free P&P!
The giveaway will end at midnight on Thursday 8th May 2014. Please refer to my Giveaway T&Cs and the facebook post before entering.
I should mention a bit about Pinter and Martin Publishers. They are exactly the kind of publishers I would be if I were a a Publishing house. Only publishing around 12 books each year, they specialise in books which are based on sound evidence and which are thoroughly researched, enabling the reader to have the freedom to think. You can find titles from Ina May Gaskin, La Leche League and Gabrielle Palmer to name a few. You might like to sign up to their newsletter from the main home page here to hear about new books first.
****Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the book ‘Breastfeeding Made Easy’ by Carlos Gonzalez in order to write this review and another will be sent out to the winner of the giveaway from Pinter and Martin. As usual, opinions and thoughts are honest and fair***