August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and there are also two awareness weeks in the month: August 1–7 is World Breastfeeding Week, and August 25–31 is Black Breastfeeding Week. These awareness events highlight the benefits of breastfeeding for moms and infants, as well as raising awareness of the right to breastfeed in public without being harassed, and the rights of women to pump in the workplace. Black Breastfeeding Week raises awareness about racial disparities and why inclusivity is so important.
As a maternal-child health public health person, I have feelings about breastfeeding—but I also know that it can be a personal choice for people, and there are threads of privilege woven throughout. I am also of the thinking that #fedisbest—breastfeeding isn’t right for everyone, and choosing not to nurse or not being able to is in no way a reflection of your mothering. There’s a lot to unpack with this, and that would be a very different post.
For now, I’ll just say this: I never thought I’d breastfeed for more than a few months, and yet here we are, two years later. Although breastfeeding might be a natural thing, that doesn’t mean it always comes naturally. I struggled with it, especially in the beginning, and found books about breastfeeding to be super helpful, both in preparing for nursing and when I ran into problems.
In celebration of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, here are some of the best books about breastfeeding.
Free to Breastfeed: Voices of Black Mothers by Jeanine Valrie Logan and Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka
This book contains personal stories from a variety of women and mothers about their breastfeeding experiences. You can get statistics and how-tos from any breastfeeding book, but this book is for those times when you want to hear stories about what it was really like for someone. A perfect gift for a new mom, especially if you know she’s planning to breastfeed.
Work. Pump. Repeat.: The New Mom’s Survival Guide to Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work by Jessica Shortall
The reality is that most women have to return to work after having a baby, whether it’s two weeks, six weeks, or 12 weeks after, or whenever. If you’re breastfeeding, this can present some tricky dilemmas. Even though there are workplace protections and laws, many people don’t know their rights, and some workplaces will do the bare minimum. This book has stories, hacks, and tips on how to juggle pumping and working.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (8th edition) by Diane Wiessinger, Diana West, and Teresa Pitman
This is the book put out by La Leche League International, and I admit, it can be a bit…much at times. That being said, it has some wonderful information in it and it’s a great resource to have on hand. The information covers nearly everything you could possibly want to know.
Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk: A Guide to Providing Expressed Breast Milk for Your Baby by Stephanie Casemore
Some women don’t breastfeed OR formula-feed, but instead, exclusively pump. These women are often overlooked in traditional breastfeeding books, or get a small section in a chapter. This book is full of great advice on keeping supply up, information on pumps and pumping, and the challenges (and how to deal with them) of exclusively pumping.
Looking for more books about breastfeeding and other aspects of parenting? Check out 100 Must-Read Books on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenthood.