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Book Review: Celebrating Motherhood:
A Comforting Companion for Every Expecting Mother

by Andrea Alban Gosline and Lisa Burnett Bossi

Reviewed by Shana Brown
Auburn CA USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 6, November-December 2007, p. 281

Science has finally caught up with what mothers have long known -- breastmilk is best. Study after study tell us that human milk is good for babies from head to toe. Many studies suggest the benefits of human milk are dose related: the more a baby gets, the greater the benefits. All the benefits are quantified. But what cannot be quantified, and is often overlooked, is the emotional side of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding does more than reduce ear infections, seal the gut, or improve hand-eye coordination. The emotional side of breastfeeding is often reduced to a simple definition: bonding. The emotional and physical closeness between mother and child, however, is the very thing that keeps many mothers breastfeeding well past any arbitrary dates prescribed by doctors or society.

Similarly, the birthing process has been documented and studied and quantified. A woman who discovers she is newly pregnant immediately drives to the bookstore or the library to stock up on books that detail how the baby is growing or how to write a birth plan. While these books may be interesting, books that focus on the emotional side of pregnancy and birth are often lacking.

Celebrating Motherhood: A Comforting Companion for Every Expecting Mother, by Andrea Alban Gosline and Lisa Burnett Bossi, belongs on every expectant mother's nightstand. It is unique, pairing quotations from an enormous range of histories, beliefs, religions, and authors with beautiful pictures of all types of mothers. The authors draw from a vast range of sources to focus on different affirmations for pregnant women, such as, "I Imagine," "I Am Perfection," "I Let Go." Quotations support these affirmations. You can read several sections at one time, or read only one a day. This book emotionally feeds the mother as she is changing from an individual to a mother.

Almost every quotation is special. Consider, "I often feel spiritual communion with all the other mothers who are feeding their babies in the still of the night. Having a baby makes me feel a general closeness with humanity," by Simone Bloom (263). A recurring theme, the importance of mother-to-mother support, will resonate with La Leche League members. Quotations connect new mothers to all the mothers who come before her:

After giving birth to a child, a woman of the Baganda tribe of Uganda is attended by friends and relatives (for an entire month) who help her in almost every aspect of her postpartum life....The relatives prepare meals for the family, bathe the newborn, wash the laundry, and prepare soups for the mother to stimulate milk production (278).
The authors believe that strength comes from this connection between mothers.

In the United States, cesarean rates are slowing inching up to 25 percent of all births. Increasingly, more and more interventions are leading to a medicalized view of childbirth. Celebrating Motherhood empowers women to trust the birthing process; it portrays breastfeeding as the final step in the fertility cycle of gestation, birth, and breastfeeding. This book finds and celebrates the transformative power of childbirth and of mothering. It's a wonderful resource for every mother, reminding us of our connection to other mothers and the wonder of women birthing and raising children.

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