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Book Review
Nursing Mother, Working Mother

By Gale Pryor
Harvard Common Press, 1997
Available from the LLLI Online Store
Reviewed by Kathy Koch
Great Mills MD USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 15 No. 1, January - February 1998, p. 27-28

More and more women are interested in combining breastfeeding and employment, and they will find Nursing Mother, Working Mother to be a valuable reference guide. Many women will consider turning to this book during their pregnancy and planning stages for returning to work, and for continued guidance and reassurance once they have returned to work outside the home. Gale Pryor, co-author with her mother, Karen Pryor, of Nursing Your Baby, has drawn from her breastfeeding experiences while working full-time to produce a book that will prove extremely useful to women experiencing frequent separations from their breastfed babies.

Nursing Mother, Working Mother provides a wealth of knowledge on the practical aspects of breastfeeding and its relationship to maternal bonding and parental confidence. The author delves into the many emotional and physical benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby, with a special section on the benefits of breastfeeding for the working mother.

Pryor writes about "Instinctual Parenting Practices"-including cosleeping, breastfeeding without restriction, keeping the baby close from birth on, carrying or wearing the baby, and responding quickly to the baby's cues. These practices can help mothers who are apart from their babies regularly to maintain a close and attached bond with each other.

Pryor encourages mothers to keep their babies close during the hours they are together There is a good section on baby-wearing which includes directions and pictures on the basics of using a sling. Wearing the baby helps to decrease his crying and fussiness, and also helps to diminish the effects of earlier separation. Nighttime parenting is also discussed. The author encourages keeping baby close during the night, either in the parental bed or in a bassinet next to the bed. Co-sleeping is another way to maintain a plentiful milk supply and to allow mother and baby to catch up on some of the missed time together.

Choosing a caregiver is often the most difficult decision a working mother must make. Pryor describes different child care options-including in-home care, family day-care, and day-care centers-and discusses the pros and cons of each. She also offers a list of questions for interviewing a child-care provider that will help mothers find a caregiver who supports breastfeeding.

The section on alternative work arrangements is excellent. Compressed workweeks, telecommuting, part-time schedules, and job sharing are discussed, as well as suggestions for bringing up these options with an employer.

Pryor offers staying home as a viable option. She says, "Life is long, and childhood is brief. If you step out of your career path for a few years you can step back into it later and perhaps follow new directions that had not been considered before."

Pryor reminds readers to be aware that work-related expenses may combine to quickly consume a second income. She gives over 40 suggestions for freelance businesses for those who want an income, but want to stay at home. She also encourages mothers to look at the "creative pleasures and intellectual demands of mothering" and to acknowledge it as the rewarding and important job it is.

The author admits that there is no work option that will be perfect for every situation or every family, but that it is important to make an informed decision regarding plans to return to work. She emphasizes the importance of advance planning, enlisting support from family and friends, and taking care of yourself to help make the return to work a successful and rewarding experience.

Nursing Mother, Working Mother has a brief chapter on "Breastfeeding Basics." The chapter would not be enough basic breastfeeding information for the first-time mother. This chapter should not replace the need for a more comprehensive book on breastfeeding such as the new edition of THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING or BREASTFEEDING PURE AND SIMPLE.

An appendix provides a comprehensive list of resources for nursing working mothers. Besides the list of related books to read, it provides sources of breast pumps to rent or purchase; retail sources of breastfeedmg fashions, pumping supplies and storage supplies; and names of support groups for breastfeeding mothers and working mothers. Both postal mail addresses and addresses for web sites are given, when available. There is also a sample proposal for an office pumping space!

One satisfied reader sums up the book in this way. "This is just the book I really needed as I struggled to combine school with nursing my first daughter. Pryor talks about all of the practical advantages and how-to's of combining nursing with employment outside the home, but it is her understanding of mothering as a natural art that I most appreciate."

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