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When a friend of mine gave me Kate Evan's The Food of Love: Your Formula for Successful Breastfeeding, I had already read a number of books about breastfeeding (including Gina Ford and Ina May Gaskin), but had not found any of them to be helpful in a pragmatic way. They left for charity shop bookshelves shortly after I had finished reading them. The Food of Love made the cut however, as I found that it presents crucial and well-researched information in a very accessible and concise way, and without being too wordy- which makes it an excellent reference book and one that I will probably draw on for years to come.
Although breastfeeding is a natural and ancient process which can be immensely rewarding, it can also be challenging, demanding, and exhausting. There is a plethora of advice out there on breastfeeding, but this only adds to the problem of trying to decipher and choose what is best for your little one, as much of this advice is contradictory, difficult to digest, incorrect, or even dangerous for baby. Just a few of the important questions that are addressed in The Food of Love are: how can you be sure that baby is latched on properly?, how long should you allow baby to feed from each breast?, which breast should you start a feed with?, should you allow baby to fall asleep while feeding?, is co-sleeping safe? All questions are addressed with a view to allowing the reader to make up her own mind about each topic.
One of the main things I like about the book is how personable and humorous it is throughout, while still being informative and well researched. Evans blends personal experience with the facts, giving the book a friendly but still professional feel to it. References are listed in the back of the book and are easily accessible. The book is fairly large, and a square shape which means that the pages stay open easily, so it is easy to consult during a feeding session- I did this many times myself when I was learning to ensure that my baby was latched on properly! The book is brilliantly illustrated with funny, and sometimes daring, cartoons. As a new mum I identified with almost all of the scenarios Evans presents, my favourite being the one of a woman holding tea strainers over her breasts (to air her nipples in a case of nipple trauma) with the caption `no, the humiliations of motherhood will never cease'..! Introduction to humour as a means of coping with the trials of early parenthood got me through a lot in the early days, and I can't thank Evans enough for this. Some things that might otherwise have got me down have been captured so well in the book that randomly remembering Evans' drawings at those times tended to leave me in peals of (somewhat hysterical) laughter - instead of tears!
The Food of Love is an empowering book. Although I was shown by the midwives in hospital how to get my baby latched on properly to my nipple when feeding, it was also a lot of information to take in at the time, much of which I had forgotten by the time I got home. Evans' funny and endearing diagrams of how to ensure a good latch meant that I mastered this within 24 hours of being home-something that many women tend to struggle with. I also used The Food of Love to treat blocked ducts in the early days following my baby's birth, as I found Evans' description of the symptoms easy to understand, and the instructions to alleviate the problem easy to follow.
This book is a practical necessity for any breastfeeding mother. I'm not exaggerating when I say that without this book I would have struggled with conflicting advice, worried a lot, and lacked confidence about breastfeeding generally. Whenever well-meaning persons gave me panic-worthy advice, as a new mother with little else to draw on, this book became my rock! My advice is, therefore, that you buy this book for any breastfeeding mother you know! - As it might make a real, positive difference in both mother and baby's life. It's a rare gift in that it ticks all the boxes - The Food of Love is practical, clear and informative, as well as funny and down-to-Earth. I found it to be life-changing, and I cannot thank my friend enough for giving it to me.