Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers.
I’ve written about The Best Gifts by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch before but when I read that the theme for this month’s Breastfeeding Carnival was a review of a book or video related to breastfeeding, parenting, or giving birth, it was the first that sprang to my mind. If I had to choose an advice book to take to a deserted island, I would take Dr Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding. It was the book that I opened in the dead of the night or whenever I had a question but the questions are all the more pressing in the middle of the night. I’m sure that someone else will cover Newman’s work, though, and I wanted to write about a book that simply presents breastfeeding as a normal part of childhood. The images and story in this book are those that are sorely lacking in most children’s story books.
Like many mothers, I am careful to choose books that depict people of different races and family situations, those in rural and urban neighbourhoods, kids with disabilities and those that live far away or near to us. What I was unable to find in the first two years of my daughter’s life was a book that depicted our nursing relationship. And then one day, I discovered The Best Gifts in the parenting section of my local library.
The Best Gifts tells the story of the life of a baby/girl/woman as she grows from a nursling to a nursing mother. The book describes a number of occasions for celebration and how presents received are cause for joy and gratitude but that the best gifts can’t be purchased. In the first example, visitors bring gifts for the newborn baby but it is as the baby is “wrapped in love and a light scent of lavender as the warmth of her mother’s milk swirled in her mouth and filled her tiny stomach…” that happiness deepens. As the girl grows older, her parents give gifts of time and history. The story ends with the main character now a nursing mother in her own right providing her own son with mother’s milk and love. On both occasions when breastfeeding is featured, the father is shown as an involved member of the family, cuddling the mother and child while the baby nurses.
The illustrator of The Best Gifts, Halina Below, uses watercolours and watercolour pencils to create soft images that convey a gentle love. They match well with the soft tone of the story and draw a child into a discussion of what is contained in the image.
A list of resources is provided at the end of the book, providing contact information for Canadian and international organizations that support breastfeeding.
Mothers-to-be and those in the midst of nursing a child need access to books that will answer their questions about the mechanics of nursing and provide solutions to the challenges that some will face. The Best Gifts should be on their bookshelves as well in celebration of the nursing relationship itself.
Children should have access to this and other books that depict breastfeeding relationships as part of childhood to instill a sense of the normalcy of nursing. The baby bottle has been the symbol of infancy for too long. Our children should not automatically reach for a bottle when they play with their dollies, they should reach for the hem of their shirts. And in the future books such as this one will be on the shelves with all of the other picture books and not segregated to the parenting section.
Does anyone have other stories for children that depict breastfeeding?
Check out the other participants’ reviews in the November Carnival of Breastfeeding. I’ll be updating this list throughout Monday and Tuesday as the entries are posted.
- Mama Knows Breast reviews bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls;
- Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog reviews The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, Mama Knows Breast, What Mothers Do: Especially When it Looks Like Nothing, The Milk Memos, The Nursing Mothers Herbal, Mama’s Milk, Baby-Led Breastfeeding, Supporting Sucking Skills in Breastfeeding Infants and Hatched: The Big Push from Pregnancy to Motherhood;
- The International Breastfeeding Symbol reviews The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two and Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason;
- Hobomama reviews Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent ;
- On School Street reviews Blindsided by a Diaper: Over 30 Men and Women Reveal How Parenthood Changes a Relationship;
- Breastfeeding Mum reviews A Child is Born, The Fat Ladies’ Club , Facing the First Five Years, NCT’s Breastfeeding for Beginners, Mama Knows Breast, The Breastfeeding Cafe, The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers and Mum’s the Word;
- James and the Giant Moose reviews Having Faith;
- The True Face of Birth reviews Mama Knows Breast;
- Breastfeeding 1-2-3 reviews Baby Matters, Revised 2nd Edition: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Caring for Your Baby; and
- Crunchy Domestic Goddess reviews What Babies Want: An exploration of the consciousness of infants.