This book is unlike any other breastfeeding book I've read. It is primarily a visual guide to breastfeeding, rather than a textual guide with the occasional picture or illustration. Laura Keegan's photographs are stunning in their beauty, detail, and ability to capture the essence of proper positioning and latch. There is at least one full-size photograph at every page turn. The book's text supplements and clarifies the photographs, often with a very poetic quality.
A main theme interwoven throughout the book is that women in our culture have been imprinted with bottlefeeding behaviors, and this affects how they hold their newborn babies and how they bring them to the breast. Unless we have had extensive exposure to breastfeeding, we unconsciously hold babies in a manner appropriate for bottlefeeding: cradled deep in the crook of our elbow, body and head facing upwards. When brought to the breast in this position, babies (and their mothers) often experience difficulty attaining a deep, comfortable latch, which affects milk supply, brings pain to the mother, and frustrates both parties. Keegan's book illustrates the postures and positioning, done unconsciously by women in breastfeeding cultures, that facilitate proper positioning and a painless latch. She comments about her book:
You will learn ways of holding your baby and bringing your baby to the breast that are imprinted early in life in women in other societies where breastfeeding is the norm. The steps are simple but may take a little time to learn because women automatically hold their babies and their breasts in ways that work for bottle-feeding since that is what most of us have imprinted in our minds.For example, Keegan points out how the natural shape of our unclothed breasts facilitates comfortable and effective nursing. Our cultural norms of what breasts should look like, especially breasts contained in bras, can mask the function of a breast's normal shape:
It is interesting to note that when most women look down at their unclothed breasts, the nipples point outward, instead of straight ahead. We unconsciously push our breasts to the center of our bodies to make our nipples point straight ahead as they do in bras. We don't want to push our breasts in this way when we breastfeed.Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy focuses on the basics of positioning and latch that solve or prevent most breastfeeding difficulties. She writes:
The natural position of the nipple pointing outward allows for the nipple to point to the roof of the baby's mouth when bringing the baby to the breast. Indeed, nature has an ingenious design to ensure painless, efficient feeding at the breast, when holding the baby in a way that is not affected by bottle-feeding imprinting.
There are usually simple reasons for the problems mothers have encountered that lead to varying difficulties, such as sore nipples, babies fussy at the breast, sleepy babies, frequent feeds, babies not being satisfied, and colic. The purpose of this book is to emphasize certain key points that provide for an enjoyable breastfeeding experience for both mother and baby.Although there is much less written text than in most of the other breastfeeding books I have read, Breastfeeding in Comfort and Joy covers a remarkable range of information, from achieving a proper latch to nursing twins and working with sleepy or premature babies. Keegan accomplishes this by relying on photographs to communicate the bulk of her message, while the text clarifies and emphasizes the photographs' key points. This certainly makes sense with how many of us learn--it is much easier to understand what a proper asymmetrical latch looks like by seeing multiple pictures of it, rather than just reading about it.
The book is wider than it is tall, so it stays open easily--a plus for moms who are holding one or more nursing babies! The pages are all high-quality glossy paper with either color or black-and-white photographs.
I highly recommend Laura Keegan's book. It would make a vital addition to a nursing mother's personal collection, as well as to hospital maternity wards, NICUs, pediatrician/OB/midwife/family physician offices, and public libraries. If you are involved with a birth- or breastfeeding-related organization, you may also place a bulk order for a reduced price. In addition to buying a copy for yourself or a pregnant friend or family member, I suggest you contact your public library and request that they order a copy. I did this yesterday; it only took 30 seconds to fill out a purchase request slip at the circulation desk.
Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy is available for sale only at www.TheBreastfeedingBook.com. You can read testimonials and book reviews on that website, as well as view excerpts from the book. Laura Keegan has also created a blog with more information about and reviews of her book.