19 July 2008
Review--The Breastfeeding Cafe
THE BREASTFEEDING CAFE by Barbara L. Behrmann
May be enjoyed by nursing moms, moms-to-be and anyone interested in cultural issues surrounding breastfeeding and motherhood.
This is one title I picked up with birthday money (thanks Gram!), and it was hard to choose, with dozens of books on my "save for later" space in my Amazon.com checkout cart. What an enjoyable read! With a structure intended to reflect a conversation among mothers, Behrmann skillfully weaves together a myriad of voices from a wide range of cultural, economic and educational backgrounds, from women who have nursed children through age five and beyond and others who were unable to breastfeed due to medical issues or lack of information and support. She describes her intention with this format: "Telling our stories is an act of power, of taking control of our own life, of helping other women in theirs. It is, above all, a starting point. My hope is that the stories in The Breastfeeding Cafe will give women the courage and permission to dispel myths, reveal secrets, and be honest." (292) There is both vibrant emotional connection and thought-provoking academic perspective. Pretty much every conceivable aspect of the topic is touched upon. The last chapter, "Where Do We Go From Here?" will rouse your inner lactivist: she clearly outlines specific societal changes needed to improve breastfeeding success in America--things like mother/baby friendly care for birth and the postpartum, better education for health care providers (whose ignorance is frequently responsible for sabotaging nursing relationships), truly family-friendly labor policies, including an actual paid maternity leave, and other actions the need for which is well documented within her collection of narratives. Inspiring.