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Book Reviews

Why Should I Nurse My Baby? And Other Questions Mothers Ask About Breastfeeding

by Pamela K. Wiggins, IBCLC
Available from LLLI
No. 74-7, English, $4.95
No. 599-29, Spanish, $4.95

Breastfeeding: Keep It Simple

by Amy Spangler, RN, IBCLC
Available from LLLI
No. 1649-7, English, $5.25
No. 1748-25, Spanish, $5.25

reviewed by Nancy Walters
Raleigh NC USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 23 No. 3, May-June 2006, pp. 126-127

Are you looking for quick answers to breastfeeding questions? I have two titles for you: Why Should I Nurse My Baby?, by Pamela K. Wiggins, and Breastfeeding: Keep It Simple, by Amy Spangler. Both books use a question and answer format to cover the basics of breastfeeding, from "How do I get my baby latched on?" to "Can I drink alcohol?"

These thin, light, manageable volumes are tailor-made for childbirth preparation classes and public health settings like the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, Children (WIC). Pregnant women and new mothers who have many questions and are not sure if breastfeeding is right for them also will benefit greatly from the straightforward answers found in these guides.

The compact size of these books implies that it doesn't take a thick textbook to feed one's baby naturally at the breast. The content is likewise matter-of-fact, reassuring, and positive. The introduction in Breastfeeding: Keep It Simple sets this upbeat tone. Spangler writes:

Be patient! Some babies know how to breastfeed right away, but most need to learn. Be persistent! It may take several days or several weeks before you and your baby know just what to do. Be proud! You are giving your baby a gift that lasts forever.

Readers will find ample encouragement throughout. Sounding like a trusted friend who is also a veteran mother, the author of Why Should I Nurse My Baby? shares information with new mothers in a gentle, reassuring voice. The overall tone is similar to that of a La Leche League meeting. For example, in response to the question, "How can I nurse discreetly or privately in public?" Pam Wiggins writes:

It takes a little practice to learn to nurse discreetly. Practice in front of a mirror before you first go out. Soon you will be nursing anywhere and everywhere and no one will ever guess when you are nursing.

Both paperbacks cover similar ground. Many new mothers experience engorgement, for example, and both authors address this common challenge. In Breastfeeding: Keep It Simple, Spangler phrases the question, "What should I do if my breasts are swollen and hard?" She then briefly explains what causes over-fullness and provides five bulleted hints for relieving swollen breasts. In Why Should I Nurse My Baby?, the question is "What is engorgement?" and the author gives an explanation and suggestions in three short paragraphs. In addition to these concise question and answer topics, both books employ visual cues to relay vital information. Why Should I Nurse My Baby? has full-page lists for several topics including increasing milk supply and storing human milk. Breastfeeding: Keep It Simple uses a friendly little elephant graphic in the margin; the author notes, "Elephants never forget and neither should you! Throughout this book an elephant is used to point out facts you need to know to help your baby grow and keep him safe."

These books focus on the essentials: reasons to breastfeed, positioning and latch-on, twins, signs that baby is getting enough milk, sleep, pacifiers, sore nipples, solids, weaning, sex, fertility, nursing and employment, and more. Especially helpful are the sections on finding breastfeeding help and support. Both books highlight La Leche League along with WIC (I was fascinated to learn that nearly 50 percent of babies born in the United States participate in WIC).

The concise, easy-to-read design of both books means that many topics are not covered in depth or detail. Starting solids, for example, is covered in one page in Breastfeeding: Keep It Simple and in three pages in Why Should I Nurse My Baby? Many mothers will want more information -- THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING is a wonderful place to turn for that in-depth knowledge, complete with references. For comparison, THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING takes 10 dense pages to cover the ins and outs of starting solids.

Readers also may want to turn to La Leche League for details on the necessity of vitamin D supplements. Breastfeeding: Keep It Simple oversimplifies this decision, stating, "Your baby needs...a daily dose of vitamin D" and supplying a dosage recommendation for infants. Mothers may wish to consider risk factors for vitamin D deficiency when determining if supplements are indicated for their babies (find this information at

Both basic guides are a great starting point for getting familiar with breastfeeding -- perfect for new mothers who need an easy and quick reference at their fingertips, or as a gift to a friend who is pregnant with her first child. Simple illustrations break up the text in each volume and add visual essentials for topics such as positions and latch-on. The black and white sketches in Breastfeeding: Keep It Simple are particularly warm and lifelike. Both authors, Wiggins and Spangler, are certified lactation consultants and their books show that they aim to demystify breastfeeding and help women and babies enjoy the loving closeness of nursing.

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