Monday, March 21, 2016

A Comparison Review - The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding & Babywise

On Becoming Babywise

By: Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam

Published: September 28th 2006 by Hawksflight & Assoc Inc (first published February 1993)

252 pages

Genre: Non-fiction, Parenting, Self-Help

Source: Personal Kindle Library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--The infant management concepts presented in this book have found favor with over two million parents and twice as many contented babies. On Becoming Babywise brings hope to the tired and bewildered parents looking for an alternative to sleepless nights and fussy babies. The Babywise Parent Directed Feeding concept has enough structure to bring security and order to your baby's world, yet enough flexibility to give mom freedom to respond to any need at any time. It teaches parents how to lovingly guide their baby's day rather than be guided or enslaved to the infant's unknown needs.

The information contained within On Becoming Babywise is loaded with success. Comprehensive breast-feeding follow-up surveys spanning three countries, of mothers using the PDF method verify that as a result of the PDF concepts, 88% breast-feed, compared to the national average of only 54% (from the National Center for Health Statistics). Of these breast-feeding mothers, 80% of them breast-feed exclusively without a formula complement. And while 70% of our mothers are still breast-feeding after six months, the national average encourage to follow demand feeding without any guidelines is only 20%. The mean average time of breast-feeding for PDF moms is 33 1/2 weeks, well above the national average. Over 50% of PDF mothers extend their breast-feeding toward and well into the first year. Added to these statistics is another critical factor. The average breast-fed PDF baby sleeps continuously through night seven to eight hours between weeks seven and nine. Healthy sleep in infants is analogous to healthy growth and development. Find out for yourself why a world of parents and pediatricians utilize the concepts found in On Becoming Babywise.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

By: La Leche League International

Published: July 13th 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published September 1958)

576 pages

Genre: Non-fiction, Parenting, Self-Help

Source: Personal Kindle Library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--The long-awaited revised edition!

It’s no secret that breastfeeding is the normal, healthy way to nourish and nurture your baby. Dedicated to supporting nursing and expectant mothers, the internationally respected La Leche League has set the standard for educating and empowering mothers in this natural art for generations. Now their classic bestselling guide has been retooled, refocused, and updated for today’s mothers and lifestyles. Working mothers, stay-at-home moms, single moms, and mothers of multiples will all benefit from the book’s range of nursing advice, stories, and information—from preparing for breastfeeding during pregnancy to feeding cues, from nursing positions to expressing and storing breast milk. With all-new photos and illustrations, this ultimate support bible offers

  • real-mom wisdom on breastfeeding comfortably—from avoiding sore nipples to simply enjoying the amazing bonding experience
  • new insights into old approaches toward latching and attaching, ages and stages, and answers to the most-asked questions
  • strategies for moms who choose to breastfeed for a short time or who plan to nurse for a year or more
  • reassuring information on nursing after a C-section or delivery complications
  • recent scientific data that highlight the many lifelong health benefits of breastfeeding
  • helpful tips for building your support network—at home or when back at work
  • nursing special-needs infants, premies, multiples, and how to thrive no matter what curveball life throws
  • guidance on breast health issues, weight gain, day care, colic, postpartum depression, food allergies, and medications
  • Plus—Internet references for further information, including La Leche League support sites and groups.

    Mothers bringing babies into a new world want sustainable, healthy, positive ways to help their children blossom and thrive. There is no better beginning for your baby than the womanly art of breastfeeding.

    I've never done a review/post like this before. I was intending to read both of these books and review them separately. But as I was reading them at the same time, I just couldn't figure out how to review them comprehensively without continually referencing the other. They overlap so much. So this review/compare and contrast will include a good bit of my personal motherhood story as well as a review of both books and a comparison and contrasting of the parenting philosophies of both books. This will be more lengthy than normal. Sorry, but I hope you stick with me here.

    Also, let me say up front that parenting is an extremely personal experience full of difficult decisions that often don't have right or wrong answers. We often see "mom shaming" because as mothers we all (for the most part) are seeking the best things for our children. But the trouble is that we often disagree on what's best. It is not my intention to imply that any parenting philosophy discussed in this review is better than any other but to only state what philosophies work for me and my family and what doesn't.

    I remember asking a cousin when we were both pregnant (her about 30 weeks and me about 18) if she'd read any books on pregnancy/parenting etc. She said the only one she'd read was Babywise because it had been highly recommended to her by a couple of her friends. For some reason the idea of reading about pregnancy and parenting was difficult for me while pregnant. My doctor's office had given me a book to read about pregnancy and I was having a hard enough time getting through that one. So birth came. Baby was born. And boy was I not prepared for the sleepless nights that came with a newborn. I mean you can't really prepare for that. But I feel like I was really unprepared for this aspect of parenting. I knew that I would love my baby--I already did while pregnant. I figured breastfeeding would come natural (it didn't) and sleep training was really the last thing on my mind. At our 2 week visit to the pediatrician, he recommended that I stick to an "aggressive 3 hour feeding schedule" during the day to hopefully get myself 3 or 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. So I started that and I also started nursing in the dark in the bedroom when Baby Girl would wake up in the middle of the night to feed. And by week 3, she did start sleeping 3 or 4 hours at night. I realized that she was just as overtired as I was. And an overtired baby is harder to get to sleep than one that's sleeping well.

    Unfortunately, getting her to nap was so difficult because as soon as I laid her down she'd pop right back awake. In order to get her some much needed rest and rest myself, I held her during naps in the recliner where I could nap too. This was great for catching up on some sleep for both of us, but unfortunately it created a horrible habit that we've yet to break (at the time of writing this review). (Update: Baby Girl is both napping during the day and sleeping through the night in her crib at 4 months old.)

    Another really important piece of my mothering a newborn story involves breastfeeding. Every single source for breastfeeding information (lactation consultant, websites, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and other breastfeeding mothers) advised me from the very beginning of my breastfeeding journey to "feed on demand". This means that if your baby shows any signs of hunger (rooting, sucking on their hands, or really a desire to suck period, turning their heads from side to side, etc) then this meant that you needed to nurse. And nursing on demand was said to be the only way to maintain an adequate milk supply. Well the first night in the hospital after my little one was born, she wanted to nurse for an entire hour. After we got home, she would have spouts of nursing for 10 minutes, falling asleep, and then waking up in an hour screaming to eat again. Or if I got up from nursing, she would wake up and protest. It seemed that my baby wanted to nurse ALL THE TIME. But don't offer a pacifier the experts say, because this might cause "nipple confusion" which can cause baby to reject the breast. After one particularly rough night where baby nursed so much that she projectile vomited what her little stomach couldn't hold, I knew that "nursing on demand" was not for me. And if that was the only way to maintain my breastfeeding journey with my little one, then surely we wouldn't make it.

    Again, the same appointment with our pediatrician that I mentioned above saved my breastfeeding experience. With the same advice to do an "aggressive 3 hour feeding schedule" in order to promote longer sleep stretches at night, he also suggested only nursing 15 minutes on each side for a total of 30 minutes. He told me that nursing for an hour at a time was not necessary. And thank God he did. I had already been struggling with the idea of maintaining breastfeeding, but if my little one needed to eat every hour for an hour at a time...well that's just not something that you can keep up. (It should be said that not only had Baby Girl regained back to her birth weight by this appointment, but she had also exceeded her birth weight. I do advise nursing on demand until Baby regains his/her birth weight.)

    While visiting with one of husband's friends from high school who has a baby 2 months older than Baby Girl, she asked me if I always wanted to put Baby Girl on a schedule and I shared with her my story about my visit to our pediatrician. She gave me a look that I wasn't quite sure how to interpret and suggested that I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

    I purchased The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding shortly after that visit. Feeding frequency wasn't my only breastfeeding issue, so I hoped the book would be a great source for troubleshooting for me. I will say that up front the authors tell you to take what advice you can from them, and disregard what you don't agree with. They tell you that not everything they discuss will be in alignment with your own thoughts. And almost immediately I realized this to be true for me. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding promotes several ideas that I knew up front that I didn't agree with. For example, co-sleeping, nursing past two years old, and nursing on demand.

    I've already said why nursing on demand wasn't for me. Aside from the mental fatigue associated with nursing constantly, I ended up dealing with an oversupply issue. You see, breastfeeding is a supply and demand thing. The more you nurse (demand) the more supply you end up with. And oversupply has issues that are unique but just as challenging as a low supply. (Truthfully, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding almost acts like low supply is the worst and most likely problem a woman can be face with in the breastfeeding journey.) One of the biggest reasons why The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding suggests co-sleeping is so that baby has constant access to nurse during the night. The book even goes so far as to encourage night waking. Every person that I know that allowed their children to co-sleep ended up doing so a really long time. And personally, I would like for my bed to remain a zone for my husband and I only. This isn't a judgment on those who decide to co-sleep. It's just what we've decided is right for us.

    At this point, I'm celebrating how far we've come in our breastfeeding journey already. I have no idea how long we'll make it. I have a rough goal of making it to one year, but I will consider anything between six months to a year as a success. But the idea of nursing a two year old is just not something that I've ever entertained. Again, this is not a judgment on those moms who do choose to nurse past a year old. I'm just pointing out that this was another aspect The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding promoted that I knew wasn't for me.

    Back to my story, I reached out to a Mommy Support group that I'm a member of on Facebook out of curiosity to see how long other babies slept at 3 months of age, and Babywise was again recommended to me. So I purchased it immediately and finished reading it in like three days--which is a record for a non-fiction book for me I think.

    Almost immediately, I began regretting my decision to put off reading Babywise when my cousin originally mentioned it to me. I've learned that I was very unprepared for breastfeeding or for handling a newborn's sleep schedule. And Babywise offers up some great advice that is fairly easy to implement. Babywise fell in line with what I was already doing--enforcing an eat, wake, sleep cycle and sticking to a 3-hour feeding schedule unless Baby Girl showed signs that she truly was hungry and not just wanting to suck for comfort. (Babywise supports a combination of scheduled feedings and feeding on demand when true signs of hunger are shown before time for the next scheduled feeding.)

    I was reassured to find that my parenting methods were actually naturally similar to the Babywise strategy. Of my own accord, I'd learned how to merge my baby's feedings from 9 feedings a day to 8 and from 8 to 7 and Baby Girl was already sleeping between 4 and 6 hours a night regularly. But according to the Babywise method, we were slightly behind where we should be (6 feedings a day with 1 dream feeding and 8 hours of sleep a night). I didn't stress about that too much. But Babywise did give me some ideas on how to adjust our schedules moving forward. (Update: I will say that even still, we do not follow the Babywise advised schedule exactly.)

    Babywise also reinforced what I already knew--that holding Baby Girl while she naps is not healthy for her or me. I had become a sleep prop for her, and she needed to learn not only how to sleep without me, but also how to go to sleep without being rocked or bounced. Gary Ezzo, co-author and creator of the Babywise strategy, was a father of triplets. He and his wife quickly learned that there is no rocking three babies to sleep at each nap and bedtime. If their babies could survive and thrive without rocking to sleep, so can mine. With renewed determination, I determined to get Baby Girl to nap in her crib with minimal help from me to get to sleep. She already slept pretty good through the night in a cradle beside our bed. Granted, getting her to sleep initially has always been a struggle, but we'd already worked her up to the point of sleeping by herself for the longest stretches of time. So I knew she was capable of it and capable of soothing herself back to sleep if she woke up. I'd just not been enforcing this behavior during the day for naps. Babywise gave me the inspiration, motivation, and confidence to tackle this feat. I will say that I wish there were a few more specific tools explored on how to correct these sleep prop problems. I ended up implementing a strategy of laying Baby Girl down for her nap awake but when I knew she was getting tired/drowsy. If she cried, I waited 2 minutes and then returned to her room to comfort her by patting or rubbing her stomach or head or holding her hand. After calming her, I would leave her room again. If she cried again, I waited 5 minutes and then returned to comfort her and left again. If she cried a third time, I waited 7 minutes (where originally advised to wait 10 minutes) and returned again. I didn't have to go more than 7 minutes with Baby Girl crying. This 2, 5, 7/10 idea didn't originate with me, but it was something I'd seen in the Mommy Support group that I mentioned earlier.

    Don't be confused though, Babywise doesn't just cover sleeping and feeding tips. I loved how the very first chapter was spent covering the importance of the parental marriage relationship. I was so impressed as this isn't the direction that most books take. I know that not all parents are married and they address that as well. But this was such a pro for me.

    At the same time, I can't say that I 100% agree or support everything that Babywise says. You can tell that maybe some information is either slightly out of date or misinformation, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. Things that specifically come to mind is when "shaking" breast milk to mix the foremilk and hindmilk when preparing a bottle. Breast milk should not be shaken as doing so begins to break it down. There were a few other small things like this, but that's where I'm glad that I've read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

    While I don't agree with co-sleeping, toddler nursing, or "feeding on demand", The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is filled with information about breastfeeding that can be invaluable. While all of the information is available online should you need to search for a specific topic or question you might have, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a great source to give you all the information you might need prior to breastfeeding or even early in your breastfeeding journey. And beyond really as the book has tips for feeding each age range. I'm so glad that I read it and I took away a lot of useful information even if there were aspects that I didn't agree with.

    Where I was impressed with Babywise's mention of the marriage relationship which is in-line with my Christian beliefs, I felt the opposite with The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. TWAoB had a more politically correct feeling by alluding to the many different shapes of the family unit these days and also referencing "nature's design" rather than God's. This wasn't a big deal as I don't expect all books to support my beliefs, but it was something I noted. Obviously some readers will love this and others will not. As The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a book that has been around in some form or other since 1958 yet has been constantly revised and updated, I'd be interested to know what stance previous versions of this book took on "nature" or "design".

    I will say that reading the kindle edition of both of these books was great because I could read while I nursed and only had to use one hand to flip pages while my other hand was holding baby. However, the kindle editions for both of these books do not make for easy "quick references" for finding a specific topic or section of the book you might want to reference or re-read. Either the kindle edition or a physical copy would work. Both have pros and cons.

    In the end, I found myself almost completely in line with Babywise when it comes to my parenting philosophies as opposed to The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Neither one is wrong, but Babywise fit me better. They both cover breastfeeding and sleeping topics and more. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding has more information surrounding breastfeeding problems, troubleshooting, and solutions. While Babywise focused more on organizing your baby's day. What I found was that if I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding for advice on breastfeeding troubleshooting and how-tos then I came away with a lot of positive information. And when I read Babywise for information on parenting philosophy and organizing my child's day, I receivved a lot of positive information. When I got pregnant my mother gave me a piece of advice that her mother had given her. She said, "When you're pregnant everyone wants to give you advice. Some of it you'll agree with and some of it you won't. Take what you think you can use and throw out the rest."

    The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding gets 4 Stars from me. It's a great breastfeeding resource, but don't think you have to take every piece of advice in that book. And Babywise gets 4.5 Stars from me. When you're sleep deprived and looking for any way to get your child to sleep longer this book is a wealth of information. I highly recommend reading them both (if you choose to breastfeed, and just Babywise if you choose to formula feed) BEFORE you give birth. Have you read Babywise or The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding? If so, what did you think? Let me know!


    1. Hello! I'm very grateful to have come across this post. I am 33 weeks pregnant and had been feeling really confused about Babywise vs. TWAoB. I read Babywise, but my birthing center classes follows the Le Leche League guidelines, so I felt conflicted. Your post does an excellent job reminding parents to do what works for their own babies. I will purchase TWAoB after reading your review as a breastfeeding resource though I am sure that my husband and I agree with many of Babywise's methods. Thank you for sharing!

    2. Hi Takisha! Thank you so much for your comment. I'm so glad that I could offer some help to someone out there over these topics. My first time breastfeeding I felt so pressured to follow the Le Leche League's advice about feeding on demand and other issues that I didn't feel supported when those things weren't working for me. I felt like others were telling me I'd fail at breastfeeding if I didn't follow their methods. But I learned that there isn't just one right way. I ended up breastfeeding my daughter for 14 months (my goal was a year), and I'm 1 1/2 weeks in to breastfeeding # 2. I started the three hour feeding schedule from day 1, and he exceeded birth weight by 1 week old.

      Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding journey. I'm by no means an expert, but if you struggle to find support that aligns with your parenting philosophies, feel free to contact me. Best wishes!

      Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know