In a society where only 3% of babies are exclusively breastfed at five months, (Unicef 2005), breastfeeding can seem like a political act. Certainly where I live, it’s so unusual to see a woman breastfeeding that I can’t help doing a double take when I see it. Kate Evans – better known for her excellent cartoon books on climate change and the ‘war on terror’ – has produced a funny, subversive, supremely helpful and reassuring book for those who want to breastfeed but don’t necessarily find it all plain sailing (or sucking). Feeding a baby should be easy, Kate points out: when it’s hungry, feed it. It’ll stop when it’s had enough. It’s that simple; we don’t need to time it or measure anything or do it according to the clock, as many ‘experts’ would have us believe. She assures us that we can all do it (with very, very few exceptions), which gladdened my heart as I remembered attending an antenatal class where the breastfeeding counsellor advised that it was worth ‘trying’ to breastfeed, as if it were somehow only a possibility that one would be able to do it.
I loved this book because it was empowering and funny whilst not glossing over the trials of life with a small baby, which as every parent knows can be enough to send the sanest person over the edge. It’s well researched and beautifully illustrated, and includes information on post-natal depression, attachment theory, sleeping with your baby and various other topics, as well as an extremely useful bit on making and using a baby sling (worth the price of the book on its own). Having struggled with breastfeeding in the early days myself, I would have welcomed this book and it would make a wonderful present for new parents, and a valuable resource for antenatal teachers. Buy it now!
The Food of Love: Your Formula for Successful Breastfeeding Kate Evans. Myriad Editions 2009, 208pp, £12.99
Books review by Andrea Needham