This week I am pleased to be reviewing Why Breastfeeding Matters, by Charlotte Young. I have been a fan of Charlotte's website The Analytical Armadillo for years, and I'm a big fan of this concise series of guides, but I have read so many books on breastfeeding that I was initially skeptical that this would have anything new to offer this market.
I'm sure it won't come as a surprise to you that I was completely won over by this book. What Charlotte really conveys is not just why we should care about breastfeeding, but also why we should talk about breastfeeding. She points out that we lie in a society where midwives trained thirty years ago are featured as "experts" in the media, where misinformation is rife, where GPs are the first port of call for new mothers but aren't interested in understanding breastfeeding, and where formula companies have managed to flip the dialogue so that we talk about the "benefits" of breastfeeding rather than the risks of feeding artificial milks. As a result many people genuinely don't understand that formula can be harmful, that it has negative long term health implications, and that nearly all women can breastfeed, if they get the appropriate information and support. We have no general understanding of normal infant behaviour, and so many mothers look to artificial milk to solve their "problems." When obesity is in the news as a public health crisis, nobody mentions that breastfeeding rates have a strong negative correlation. The gut microbiome is also emerging as a public health concern, but few know that the gut of a breastfed baby is more acidic than that of an artificially fed baby, and as a result cannot sustain the same microbiome even if it received the same seeding. Not breastfeeding is also a major risk factor for SIDS. At the same time the NHS, local and national government are cutting breastfeeding support funding.
This short book manages to provide great information on why we should care and talk about breastfeeding, as well as how we can support breastfeeding mothers, and ends with a handy guide to where mothers can find more information and support, because those are the true factors determining breastfeeding rates and longevity. This is a great little guide for expectant parents looking to make informed choices, and for those supporting them, especially those in a position of trust and responsibility. Yet another great guide from the Why It Matters series.