Dr. Jen’s Guide to Breastfeeding

Dr Jen’s “notes” on her Lakeshore Medical Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic Facebook page 1 are usually refreshingly opinionated so I was looking forward to reading her book. The world of health care needs all the help it can get from knowledgable health professionals when it comes to breastfeeding so I’m delighted we can add Dr Jen alongside other great medically qualified authors such as Jack Newman, Carlos González, Thomas Hale, Nils Bergman, Frank Nice and Wendy Jones.

Dr Jen is refreshingly honest about some health providers’ lack of breastfeeding knowledge and frequent poor information. She reveals that some medics lose sight of the bigger picture so that test results may become “random numbers flying through the air”. She points out that results need to be interpreted within the context of each individual baby otherwise they are worthless and this doesn’t always happen. Dr Jen urges mothers to speak up if they feel they have had poor advice and to share good studies with their health providers so that the situation can slowly change.

if you have been told to wean because of a medication you are taking or because of an illness, pregnancy, or surgery, double check. There’s a bunch of bad information out there and lots of unnecessary weaning taking place. And if you are weaning because you’ve been told that breastmilk has no benefits after a certain time, just keep nursing. No formula has come close to breastmilk, and there is no cow out there making better milk for your child than you are.

Dr Jen’s Guide to Breastfeeding is quite easy to read thanks to Dr Jen’s easy chatty style and short chapters. Chapter headings such as “Birthweight: Or I’m Sure I Saw That Baby on a Treadmill” and “When Breastmilk Turns to Water And Everyone Says a Cow Makes Better Milk Than You Do” make for a lighthearted tone. It does have some heavier medical content however including a chapter on how to understand and interpret breastfeeding studies plus the sections on bilirubin, blood sugars and birthweight for example. It would be the perfect book to reach every GP, health visitor and medical student as essential reading, getting the message across that just because they don’t know the answers, there are answers out there and breastfeeding supporters (e.g. IBCLC lactation consultants) who can help. It isn’t all medical by any means though with an underlying sensible approach to childcare that dismisses baby training methods and brings empowerment and instinct back to today’s confused parents. An approach that I hope other health care providers can also take heed of.

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