A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Dr. Jen’s Guide to Breastfeeding: A Book Review

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, breastfeeding her son.

In my opinion, Dr. Jennifer Thomas is often literally the final word in breastfeeding advocacy. In my group of Admins on my Facebook page, The Badass Breastfeeder, we have what we call a “Dr. Jen Smackdown.” This refers to responding to a question or comment with quotes or articles by Dr. Jen. This information generally brings the conversation/debate/argument to a complete stop, as there’s no way to deny the logic and scholarship of her work on breastfeeding. “Smackdown applied!” someone will message me when they just resorted to posting Dr. Jen’s material.

In a perfect world, her new book, Dr. Jen’s Guide to Breastfeeding, would at the very least be given to every woman upon becoming pregnant. Even better would be to make this book a part of middle school health class curriculums. I think the low breastfeeding rates in the United States can be attributed to many things, but one of the major factors is how women feel about their bodies. Women are taught to doubt the abilities of their bodies beyond a tool for sex. Body image issues in America have reached epidemic proportions. It affects all aspects of our lives including the relationship we have with our children. Many women simply feel uncomfortable breastfeeding because you need to use your breasts. We are taught to hide our breasts and “save” them for the use of men during sex. If women truly understood the awesome capabilities of their bodies we would have higher self-esteem and higher breastfeeding rates. What could be more empowering than learning the truth about how powerful our bodies are? As Dr. Jen points out, our bodies give life, sustain life, work even if we don’t want them to, and do nature’s work, and no one can take any of that away from us.

Dr. Jen covers everything from the dark secrets that doctors and hospitals are keeping from you to instructions on achieving the most effective latch. She reveals that her medical school training included nothing about breastfeeding. It’s no wonder why more women aren’t breastfeeding. I personally supplemented with formula on the second day of my son’s life because I was told I wasn’t making enough milk. Of course I believed the doctors. Dr. Jen critiques the unquestioning trust we have put in doctors, and how it has caused us to ignore our instincts. She exposes how The Three Bs (Bilirubin, Blood Sugar and Birthweight) are the most common reasons why women are told to supplement, and she proceeds to poke a series of holes in these theories based on science and common sense.

On my Facebook page I get asked questions all day and all night. Some problems I know the answers to, some problems I have heard of but don’t know the answers to and some problems I have never heard of. The latter half of Dr. Jen’s Guide to Breastfeeding goes through every problem a breastfeeding mother could possibly have. Every question I have ever been asked is addressed in this section and many more. I am confident that anyone could pick up this book and have all of their questions answered. Breastfeeding mothers, partners, supporters, veterans, potentials and even formula users would have a greater understanding of their bodies, their instincts and their baby’s needs after reading this book.

The book benefits from Dr. Jen’s personality, which comes through loud and clear. She is clearly competitive by nature and uses her hobby of running races as a metaphor throughout the book. She is also a bit of a Badass and shows her true colors with her quick wit and no bullshit attitude.

The conclusion of the book, a guide on how to advocate for women and our children, is particularly inspirational to me, as I dedicate my every day to this. Dr. Jen’s work has strengthened my belief that we can learn how to unite and change our culture for the well-being of our children. I think all women, even those who don’t breastfeed, should read this empowering book.

Abby Theuring, MSW