I was first introduced to "Mommy Breastfeeds Our Baby" by Teresa P. Carroll, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, at my daughter's Sibling Class at our local hospital. They had several books available for them to look at during the break, and this one caught my eye. I've been on the lookout for it since, and finally got a copy in my hot little hands – looking through it with a more critical eye, I have to say I like it even more than when I saw it the first time. Here's what makes this book so great as well as a couple things worth noting that gave me slight pause…
The book is very short and simple enough for any age. An older child in the early stages of reading could even read it on their own (I'd say it's a stage 2 or 3 book in the colloquial of easy reader books). The illustrations, by Linda Gray, are all hand drawn and really lovely.
The benefits of breastfeeding are presented to a child in a way that is easy to understand. It addresses milk being the perfect food for a baby, always being ready and the right temperature and even that because mommy is nursing, the family can buy other things for the baby. The book presents a really supportive dad, as well as a pediatrician who weighs the baby and tells them how great the baby is doing by nursing. It also mentions the ease of nursing at night vs. having to go and fix a bottle. There's a mention of babies all over the world all nursing, and some drawings of animals nursing as well.
Pumping is addressed, as something the mom does, so that she and the older daughter can do special things together (the example is grocery shopping together). There is no indication that she is a working mom, and pumping for work is not addressed. The family goes on a drive to grandma's house, and mentions they make a stop so mommy can nurse – there is a sweet picture of the mom in the front nursing while the dad and daughter stretch their legs).
Something I really liked that I didn't notice the first time I had read it is that they show the mom nursing using different holds – cradle, sidelying and football hold (with the baby on a pillow) are all represented. The pictures also include different dress for the mom – a button-down where you can see part of the nursing bra, a shirt pulled up to nurse from the bottom, and even a nursing nightgown are shown. There is a mention of going out to the "big mall" and the mom nursing in a dressing room. This struck me as anti-nursing-in-public, but the reason given is that the dressing room is "nice and quiet," which is fair. I'd prefer it showed the mom nursing out and about.
I like that there is no mention of whether the older sister in the story was nursed – so it is appropriate for a sibling whether the mom is a veteran or a new nurser. I know several women who didn't or couldn't nurse the first time, but had more support or an easier time the second. In the book's sweetest moment (I can't get through it without tearing up), on the final page, the older sister declares that when she's a mommy, she's going to nurse her baby too.
A couple reservations. The book is not that old (1990), but there are a couple ways it is dated. The first, as I mentioned is leaving out any indication that it is ok to nurse in public – the car and dressing room is as close as it gets. The breastpump pictured (it shows the mom using it from the back) is the old tube style kind which bears little resemblance to what most women use today. It also depicts the baby sleeping on it's tummy in the bassinet. The family in the book is definitely white. The closest it comes to any multiculturalism is different color and ethnicity babies on the page that mentions about nursing around the world. Finally, the book is unmistakably more for older sisters than for brothers. The narrator is a sister and the book's final sentiment is definitely female. A clever parent can certainly help a big brother relate to the story, and even the ending, but the message is clearly not as obvious for a little boy.
All and all, I think this is an excellent book. Even moms can benefit from the examples of nursing holds and how to navigate nursing clothing. I'd recommend it especially for a gift for an older sister, and a good book for lactation and childbirth education libraries.
There is also a more recent (2005) edition of this book available, with a different illustrator, so it's possible some of my reservations above are addressed. I have not read this version yet…if anyone has, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the breastfeeding forum.
Here is the 1990 edition described in this review –
Here is the 2005 edition –