Read an Excerpt
If you were living at some other time or in some other place, you might not need this book. You might even wonder about its purpose, since you would be getting much of the information of these pages from your mother, your aunts, your older sister, and your neighbors. They would share with you their breastfeeding experiences and those of their mothers before them. As you saw them suckling their infants, you would pick up the "tricks of the trade" without even realizing it. It would never occur to you that you would not nurse your baby, because every baby that you had ever seen would have been fed at his mother's breast - except in the extremely rare case when a mother was too ill to nurse.
The paragraph that you have just read appeared as the introduction to the original edition of this book, published in 1972. It is one of the very few paragraphs that were carried over to the second edition, published in 1987, and once again into this edition.
Much has changed in the twenty-six years since The Complete Book of Breastfeeding was first conceived. The year 1971 (when the first edition of this book was being researched and written) marked the lowest rate of breastfeeding in the history of this country: Only one in four women even bean to breastfeed their babies. By 1987, well over half of all American mothers were nursing their newborn infants, and among well-educated middle-class women, the incidence was even higher. There was a slight dip in the prevalence of breastfeeding in the early 1990s, but that reversal has been righted, and the rates of breastfeeding are climbing again.
Over these years we, the authors (a pediatrician who has cared for hundreds of breastfed babies and a medical writer who nursed her own three children), have been delighted to see an explosion of research into the properties of breast milk, the value of nursing for both mothers and babies, and the practices that enhance or hinder the course of breastfeeding.
We have applauded professional organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, which in its December 1997 policy statement on breastfeeding acknowledged its great importance and urged doctors to help mothers and babies follow practices to ensure healthy nursing experiences. The Canadian Pediatric Society and the World Health Organization have also issued strong statements urging mothers to nurse and urging medical professionals to help mothers breastfeed their babies.
We've been happy to note that today's physicians learn more about breastfeeding in medical school and are less likely to believe that formula is "just as good" as breast milk, and that more hospitals are instituting more policies that promote breastfeeding rather than interfere with it.
Today, then, if you have questions about breastfeeding, you're more likely to have sources to go to - the doctors, nurses, and midwives who help you in childbirth, the friends and neighbors who are nursing or have nursed their