The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

date Nov 2, 2019
authors La Leche League
reading time 10 mins

I did not agree with many things in this book. Unmedicated normal birth and 100% breastfeeding are not always possible to do. But love the baby and a healthy baby will turn out all fine eventually. Formula feeding to topup the breastmilk is fine too!

There is no such thing as spoiling a baby!

Dr. White gave me the best mothering advice I ever received: “A baby’s wants are a baby’s needs.” Gone were the confusion and worries about spoiling my baby, holding him too much or too little, following the clock, or nursing on demand. It was wonderful, blessed freedom!

Every woman is different… it is ok!

wasn’t always perfect or easy—we’ve struggled through mastitis, plugged ducts, thrush, and sore nipples. We’ve had babies who came early and babies who came late, babies who wanted to nurse constantly and babies who refused the breast altogether. We’ve had too much milk and not enough milk. We’ve worked in the home and outside. And when breastfeeding didn’t work out, there was still a heart full of love and a parenting style that was as close to human biology as we could make it.

Breastmilk good for the baby

Breast milk is the best and it is always changing

There’s no formula that comes even close to the milk your body creates. Your milk has every vitamin, mineral, and other nutritional element that your baby’s body needs, including many that haven’t been discovered or named yet, and it changes subtly through the meal, day, and year, to match subtle changes in his requirements.

Colostrum is the first milk for the baby

Colostrum, the milk you produce in small amounts in the first couple of days after your baby is born (and which you started producing during your pregnancy), has concentrated immunological properties that are your baby’s first protection against all the germs he is suddenly exposed to.

Muscles in jaws are exercised and massaged

When your baby breastfeeds, the muscles in his jaws are exercised and massaged in a way that causes the bones in his face and jaw to develop more fully. The jaw that results from bottle-feeding and pacifiers is narrower, with a higher palate that’s more likely to restrict nose breathing.

Aim to breastfeed for at least 1 year

The child who breastfeeds for less than a year is much more likely to need orthodontia later on. Snoring and related breathing problems are more common as well.

Milk supply will change accordingly

Going through a growth spurt? If your baby takes more milk than usual, he’ll have more milk available the very next time he nurses. If he drinks less than usual, your milk production scales back. Is he moving into toddlerhood and nursing less often? There will be more immune factors in your milk to keep him covered.

Normal good health + IQ

Breastfeeding doesn’t reduce the risk of infection, illness, and disease. It doesn’t add IQ points. Breastfeeding results in normal good health and normal IQ. When babies aren’t breastfed—and this is using the same information from the same studies, just shifting the focus to the true experimental group—they are at increased risk for all those short-term and long-term illnesses and diseases.

Breastfeeding is good for the mother

Natural contraception

If you breastfeed exclusively (without giving water, solids, or formula) and your baby nurses often, including at least once during the night, then your periods most likely won’t come back for at least six months.

Lose weight naturally

Breastfeeding helps many (not all) women lose weight readily. Nature gave you some of that pregnancy weight just for the purpose of making milk in the first few months. The natural design is for it to melt away by the time your baby is well started on solids.

Less risk to cancer

Breastfeeding is also an insurance policy against breast, uterine, and cervical cancer. It may be that the lower estrogen level of lactation provides the protection; the longer you breastfeed, the stronger your insurance. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to get these cancers if you breastfeed, but you are less susceptible to them.


No cans of formula or bottles, no washing, sterilizing, or storing. No measuring, spilling, or heating. No planning, leftovers, or spoilage. Most likely a lot fewer trips to the doctor. Your milk is always available, always the right temperature, and never spoiled, no matter how hot or cold it is outside. The money that you don’t spend on formula in a year could pay for a high-end appliance.

Nipple hurts initially

Nipple sensitivity is common in the early days. But if breastfeeding actually hurts, that’s your body’s signal to change something. As Christina Smillie, a physician specializing in breastfeeding, says, “Pain is the body’s way of guiding us to find a more comfortable position.”

At least for 6 months

Based on research, the World Health Organization and many national pediatric associations around the world advise exclusive breastfeeding (no other drinks or solid foods) for about six months, with solid foods gradually added and breastfeeding continuing for at least two years.

10 days for full production, so keep breast feeding early!

By about ten days, you’re near full production, and your supply won’t increase much from about one month on… > Milk removal is especially important during the first two to three weeks because that’s when your milk production capability is established. It’s like “calibrating” your milk supply, and it happens all over again with each new baby… The more milk you remove during the early weeks, the more milk you’ll be able to make for this baby. If you don’t remove much milk in the first few weeks, it will be harder (but not impossible) to make more milk later on.


Her colostrum (early milk) moves through her breasts in a small gush, reinforcing Abe’s sucking efforts. Thick and small in quantity, it’s just the thing for practicing sucking, swallowing, and breathing. It provides a protective, anti-infective coating for his brand-new intestinal tract19 and stimulates his first bowel movements.

Unique birth story

If absolutely everything you didn’t want happens to you, or even if your birth just isn’t what you hoped, this was still your story and nobody else’s. It’s a story that you will probably want to tell in detail someday to a caring friend or maybe even to your child. At some point—even years later—it can help to write it down. The good parts and the bad parts, what you saw and did, and how you felt. Your story will become precious to you for exactly what it is—the beginning of your life with your child. There

Natural position of feeding

What hit me smack in the face was the realization that in this position, with baby on his/her tummy on TOP of a slightly reclining mom, the earth’s magical gravity does most of the work. When I have the mother sitting more straight up, the mother needs to help the baby much more. What a difference!”


It’s helpful to express for about fifteen minutes on each side every two to three hours, using breast massage to encourage more milk.

First few days

Even if he was nursing beautifully, he wouldn’t be getting huge amounts at first. In fact, there’s some evidence that giving lots of food at first may rev up his metabolism and cause him to require more. A little colostrum goes a long way.

Leaking everywhere

You start leaking from everywhere. We’ve already mentioned lochia. Some women also find they have temporary bladder issues—leaking a little urine if they cough or sneeze. As your milk comes in, you may find that you can’t keep a shirt dry. Also temporary.

Baby’s weight

Conventional wisdom these days says that babies shouldn’t lose more than 7 percent of their body weight before they start gaining, absolutely shouldn’t lose any more than 10 percent, and should be back at birth weight by two weeks. But there are some problems with these guidelines. The mother who’s had a lot of IV fluids may deliver a baby who has also had a lot of IV fluids. He’ll be born at an artificially high weight and seem to lose more than he really does.

Don’t breastfees only when it feels full

Our milk supplies are designed for the same system. If we wait until our breasts feel really full, they’ve already started to slow down production. Our milk production stays highest when we nurse before we need to.

First 10 days, keep feeding

These early weeks are a time for getting your milk supply and your baby’s growth well established. Life will get simpler. For now, expect newborn inefficiency, follow your baby’s lead, and take another look to see if he’s actually more content than you thought.

Stabilised supply

By six weeks, though, many women find that their breasts don’t feel full anymore. Their breasts feel fairly soft most of the time,2 and feel full only if the baby goes longer than usual between nursings. If you used to leak a lot, you may not be leaking as much anymore, either. Supply and demand have balanced.

Attend and love the baby always

No, you can’t spoil your baby by responding to his needs. It’s not possible at this age. What you can do by responding quickly and reliably is to help develop the neural pathways in his brain that make him a secure, resilient person for the rest of his life.

There’s no sleeping for a breastfeeding mummy

Sleeping through the night may result in a reduced milk supply and slowed weight gain. And sleeping for shorter periods and waking more frequently will keep your baby from spending too much time in deep sleep states, reducing his risk of SIDS.

Love this tip! Plan things one after another, but not my the clock

As one mother said, “We have a routine, but we don’t have a schedule. A schedule would mean he naps at three. A routine means we usually have a bath after supper.”

Breastfeed for at least a year

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages nursing for at least a year, not weaning at a year; the Canadian Paediatric Society, the United Kingdom’s Department of Health, and the World Health Organization all encourage nursing for two or more years. A child who’s nearly one year old still doesn’t have a very effective digestive or immune system. While he can manage without human milk, he isn’t really designed to.