book review: how my breasts saved the world: misadventures of a nursing mother

by Lisa Wood Shapiro

I ran across this book at our bookstore and took a chance on it. Baby books can be hit or miss. One I read was so bad I did not even want to review it. I liked how the book started: with this idealized version of how her mother and other female family members discussed breastfeeding as though they had all done it for years and it was so easy...

Years ago, I asked Linda if she had breastfed all of us. “Yes, all of you were breastfed.” Well, ok. Then later I thought to ask more.

“How long did you breastfeed Mt?”

“Oh, almost a year I suppose.”


“Eight months.”


“I quit work with John, so 6 months I think.”


“You were breast fed.”

“For how long?”

“You were breastfed.”

I finally got out of her that I was breastfed for almost a month before she went back to work.

This book turned out to be just wonderful and full of all kinds of interesting tidbits. The author wrote the story basically as an extension of her quest to explain to new mothers how difficult breastfeeding is and how important getting help is to your success. She walks all over Brooklyn telling new moms about her nursing group and breastfeeding pillows, and leaking boobs, and on and on. Her husband tries to shut her down a few times, but to no avail.

Her tips, scattered throughout, are lovely.

• Re-load the diaper bag as soon as you get home so it is ready to go when you are ready to leave again. Getting out of the house is 100% of the battle.
• When making homemade cupcakes, use the food processor and just put the batter into the cupcake papers directly on a cookie sheet rather than using a muffin tin.
• Get a lactation consultant early and often. It is worth the expense.
• The latch is the hardest part.

I keep thinking about the book and telling my friends who are expecting what Lisa said: it is hard, so get help. I haven’t even tried it yet...but I am leaking. (Is that TMI?)


janincolorado said...

I loved your review and the notes about Linda. My experience was the opposite -- each child breastfed longer.
I agree -- it is harder than it appears, especially since our culture is no longer family-centered and we don't have support around us. Therefore, the advent of La Leche League, mother-to-mother breastfeeding support.

Erin said...

You are probably leaking colostrum. With the first pregnancy, the milk doesn't usually come in until 72 hours after the baby is born, though your book probably told you that.

You should consider yourself lucky. After Ada was born, I was diligently "nursing" her like I was supposed to, but if there was any colostrum at all (I'm still not convinced there was...), there wasn't very much, and so Ada was miserable, and I was raw and in pain. Not looking forward to doing that again...