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Book Review

by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC
Spiral bound, 262 pages
Available from the LLLI Online Store

reviewed by Ann Calandro, RNC, IBCLC
Waxhaw NC USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 42 No. 1, February-March 2006, p. 16.

Leaders and others who counsel breastfeeding mothers rejoiced when La Leche League International originally published THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK by Nancy Mohrbacher and Julie Stock in 1994. No longer did we have to search through files of information sheets and other references for information and answers to frequently or infrequently asked questions. In one glorious book, we suddenly had answers to most counseling questions. THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK revolutionized breastfeeding counseling. Today many Leaders are familiar with THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK and find it invaluable for helping breastfeeding mothers.

In 2005, LLLI published a concise pocket guide version of THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK titled POCKET GUIDE TO THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK by Nancy Mohrbacher. Now our most frequently used resource has been condensed! The references have been removed, but much of the relevant information remains. This new pocket guide is spiral-bound and only four inches wide and seven inches high; it will easily fit into a purse or bag to take along to meetings. It can easily be stored in a drawer near your telephone for easy reference during helping calls. It is a handy addition to THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK. In fact, it has been updated with some new information, illustrations, and clarifications since the 2003 edition. In the introduction, the author explains that new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding newborn jaundice are now included, as well as new information about hydrogel products.

The table of contents is easy to use and very similar to THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK. Divided into 20 sections, the information is easy to access, especially because it is alphabetized by subject. On the top right hand side of each of the odd numbered pages, the subject is listed to make it easy to locate needed information. After the first 20 sections, there is additional information in the appendices that discusses alternative feeding methods, breast compression, manual expression, nipple shields, and reverse pressure softening. The resources at the end of the book offer a wealth of information about finding breastfeeding products. There are also resources listed for additional information about special needs. For instance, you might be talking to a mother who has a baby with Down syndrome or a cleft defect. After sharing breastfeeding information, you will have easy access to information to guide her to additional help through another organization's 800 phone number and their Web site address.

While the full-size edition of THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK has columns on the side of each page that summarize the main points of the information, the pocket guide does not. There is no need for summaries because the wording is concise, clear, and to the point. There are no lengthy explanations. In fact, reading the pocket guide version is rather like going through THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK and reading just the summary notes on each page. For instance, if a Leader needs information about engorgement, it is found alphabetically and condensed onto two pages. In the larger BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK, engorgement information is covered in five pages, with engorgement mentioned on many other pages in the book. However, information about counseling techniques has been eliminated. The explanations in the full-size book are necessary for the basics of understanding breastfeeding, how it works, and how to help mothers with problems. For those two main reasons, if a Leader wanted to purchase only one book, it should be the original BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK. The POCKET GUIDE TO THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK is excellent, but very different from the full-size edition. However, the pocket guide has its place and would be a valuable reference for Leaders as well. Its value is in its conciseness, its ease of use, and the speed with which a Leader, mother, or health care provider can use this shortcut to access the information they are seeking. Let's face it, THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK is a large, heavy book; it has to be because it is so full of detailed information and references.

The POCKET GUIDE TO THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK could be read cover-to-cover in a few hours for a basic overview of breastfeeding, but the beauty of it is its usefulness as a reference book. Remember reading the shortened version of a book sometimes when you were in high school, to get an overview of the book? This is the shortened version, with the facts and only the facts. I like it a lot. I have enjoyed reading it. I sure wish I could have had it 28 years ago when I first became a Leader! As a "seasoned" Leader, I believe I will find my POCKET GUIDE TO THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK a useful resource.

The POCKET GUIDE TO THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK would be useful for Leaders, lactation consultants, nurses, midwives, family practice physicians, pediatricians, obstetricians, and doctor's office staff.

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