‘Milk: A Story of Breastfeeding in a Society That’s Forgotten How’ (Review)

Emma Rosen’s self-published Milk: A Story of Breastfeeding in a Society that’s Forgotten How is part autobiography, part factual analysis of the social, historical and ethical obstacles to establishing breastfeeding and the factors that threaten each woman’s journey, at every turn. Where you may expect to find a self-indulgent foray into one woman’s mothering journey, you will actually discover an advocate for every woman who would like to breastfeed her child, and a champion for the right of every woman to feed her child in the manner she wishes.

Milk is an honest and compelling account that will resonate with almost anyone who has breastfed for any length of time. Indeed, there were times when I couldn’t differentiate between Emma’s words and those which make up my own experience – the sudden cluelessness that accompanies giving birth and being handed a tiny human whose life you need to sustain, battles with medical professionals, the apprehension about nursing in public for the first time, the relief at finding a helpful soul; someone who understands, the relentlessness of cluster feeding, the craziness of hormones and the realisation that the human body is a marvel. There isn’t much about breastfeeding that isn’t covered here, and the blending of personal anecdote and science is an original idea, executed brilliantly.

Emma tackles topics such as mammalian biology, maternal instinct, the socio-historical aspects of breastfeeding, and the politics which undermine the work of breastfeeding supporters the world over. She does so with tact and, where appropriate, empathy, making it an approachable book and an invaluable read for those who make up a mother and baby’s breastfeeding ‘team’: partners and grandparents, as well as midwives and health visitors. It is easy to forget the emotions that accompany the early days of having a new baby; exhaustion and rose-tinted specs make everything a bit of a blur, in hindsight. Reading this reminded me of how tough it was, and anyone involved in caring for a new mother and baby can only benefit from having this reminder too.

In short, whether you’re pregnant, a new parent, working with mothers and babies, or if somebody close to you is breastfeeding their baby, this book is your opportunity to understand more about it, in order to succeed in a journey that is so often sabotaged via societal pressure, unethical marketing and misinformation.

Thank you, Emma, for sending us your book baby to review – it was a true pleasure.

Jo, The Mother Side x

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