When I worked in a busy breastfeeding clinic a few years back my bible was The Breastfeeding Answer Book, written by Nancy Mohrbacher and Julie Stock and published by La Leche League.
I tabbed the sections which got frequent reading (thrush, blebs, oversupply). I photocopied pages for moms. If for some reason I didn't have it with me, I felt naked. After a few years the sturdy binding could barely hold the pages together. I felt as if that book was an external hard drive for my brain.
But (oddly, if you think about it) things change in the world of breastfeeding, and I have a new Bible: Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple, also by Nancy Mohrbacher (Hale Publishing, 2010). Here's why.
Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple is:
Comprehensive. If it's at all related to breastfeeding, it's in here. It's hard to imagine fielding a question that couldn't be answered with the information in this nearly 1,000 page tome.
Up-to-date. There's a lot of new research to share, and it's all there, beautifully referenced - Biological Nurturing, Baby-Led Breastfeeding, Baby-led solids (aka Baby Led Weaning), new insights on breastfeeding and depression. There are new sections on milk supply,helping premature babies to the breast earlier, the four types of tongue tie, breastfeeding after gastric bypass surgery, and more. The importance of this update really can't be understated - it's the research which drives a lot of changes in policy and practice, from you and your baby to your pediatrician up to federal health agencies. Having clear and accessible access to it is critical.
New counseling perspective. Last year a local La Leche League leader told me about how she was trying to do a lot less teaching in her interactions with new moms. Now I know where some of that it coming from. The Breastfeeding Answer Book had plenty of content on counseling, but Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple explicity advocates a "less is more" approach to working with new moms. It's discussed in terms of the right-brained, oxytocin-flushed perspective of the new mom and the dangers of disrupting this state by triggering her left brain with unnecessary information. This is based on Suzanne Colson's observations of new moms, and I think it reflects a significant change.
Easy to use format. Like The Breastfeeding Answer Book, this book is formatted in two columns, with a "main idea" summary on one side for quick reference.
If you're a mom looking for an reference book for personal use, this is most likely far more than you need. Breastfeeding Made Simple or The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding should provide all the information you're looking for, and those books are written for a 'mom' audience. If you're in a breastfeeding support role, you couldn't make a better investment than purchasing this book. I've also found it a wonderful reference for the writing "Booby Traps" series I write for Best for Babes.
Nancy Mohrbacher's "baby" (which at 6.3 pounds she notes is about the same weight as a real baby) was born right around the time my (human) baby was born, and as a result I'm late in singing this book's praises. But I'm singing them to the rooftops. The breastfeeding world's hard drive has had a huge upgrade, and we should all feel very grateful for it.