Reading Books About Nursing: Part 1

Maybe my nesting instinct has gone into overdrive, but I realized that after all my deciding on breastfeeding I hadn’t bought any books to teach me the basics of nursing. I saw a video on my pregnancy app, and I admit I was completely repulsed and ready to stock up on formula saying “no effing way I’m doing that”. After weeks of nightmares of watching this woman “hand express” her milk, I shook it off like any other nightmare and reasserted myself back into the idea of breastfeeding. I bought some bras and pads, a pump, and I was ready for this. Then I realized I needed to buy books to read up about it, hoping to feel more knowledgeable and ready for this.

Normally, I’d just go on my Kindle and download whatever I wanted. But I was at the mall anyways, and I decided why not just stop in at Barnes and Noble. There, I stood with a few options on which book to pick. My phone’s internet wasn’t working and I was lost staring at titles. Instinctively, the first one I grabbed was the La Leche League International’s book, The Womanly Art of Breast Feeding. This is the book today’s post will be about. The other book I eventually picked, because I like second opinions, was entitled The Essential Guide to Breastfeeding. Obviously the title gives away the fact this is part of a 2 part series about books on breastfeeding. I might be inspired to get another book or 2 and if I do, I’ll share my thoughts on them as well. I might not though, because after only reading one, I might not want to read about female anatomy anymore.

I picked the La Leche League book to read first, because in every app or online site they mention this organization with breastfeeding. I figured if there was ever an informative book, those lovely women would’ve written it. However, I realized shortly after starting the book that this book wasn’t what I was hoping for. For every bit of useful information I read, I read a bunch of propaganda and patronization. For the good majority of the first part of the book, I read about how breastfeeding is the way to go and if you fail at it it’s because you didn’t try hard enough. I felt guilty after reading parts of it as if I was doing something completely wrong for questioning if I really wanted to do this or not. After the guilt, which I’ll admit passed quickly, I couldn’t help but to read the rest of the book as judgmentally as it read me.

As if that wasn’t enough, I ended up raising my eyebrows at this book. It seemed to romanticize the ideal of nursing your child. When I’m thinking about my kids, I’m not thinking of a romantic situation. The way some of the parts were written made me question if I was reading an informative how-to or pedo porn. They made it seem like the only reason someone should nurse, (and nurse for what seems like until you put your child on a bus to grade school) was to create a bond only you and your child can have. It seemed more like a sick power trip than being actually useful to your child. I’m choosing to do it because it’s the financially smartest approach and the healthiest one, not because I want a biting toddler chewing at my boobs forever. I even read parts of the story they tell in the book about a woman breastfeeding her son aloud to my husband, as if I were reciting lines from a cheesy romance novel. He thought I had exaggerated what the book said until he read it himself. Another problem I had involved the fact I was considering exclusively pumping, as the idea of a baby actually suckling from my chest and the idea my husband couldn’t bond with our child. This book gave useful information about pumping exclusively and storage, but I felt like they attacked that idea. They constantly enforced that breastfeeding is about mother/child bonding and pumping ruins this attachment and you’re an awful person for denying your child that magical love boob juice.

For every bit of good this book did informing me about different positions to feed or pumping, I felt awful after reading the book. It was like visiting an ever critical relative that made you feel like dirt afterwards because you aren’t good enough. I doubt I’m the only one who’s opting for this method of feeding for logical and financial reasons, and I doubt I’m the only one who would love to share the responsibility of feeding and would be annoyed for being made to feel like an awful mother for that. I hope the next book is less judgmental or preachy, or I may end up stock piling formula now.

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