The Complete Book of Breastfeeding by Marvin S. Eiger MD and Sally Wendkos Olds (Workman: paperback, $7.95).
A good 60% of the babies of today's baby-boomers will be breast-fed. Their mothers, better educated and aware of the many benefits nursing confers, will choose this immemorial method, as compared to a mere 20% in 1970.
In its big comeback, mother's milk, as is generally known, contains all nutrients necessary for the baby. It also transmits antibodies and other protective substances through special cells that kill a host of viruses and bacteria, thereby encouraging the production of the baby's own antibodies. Breast-fed babies suffer fewer infant disorders and are thriving babies when compared to their bottle-fed counterparts. And they certainly smell sweeter.
The mother benefits as well. She can dispense with sterilized bottles and not worry about a supply of formula. Nursing provides a strong link in the maternal bond, returns her figure to normal quickly and serves as a natural contraceptive, though authors suggest caution on this.
With all these bonuses, why do women choose to bottle-feed? Some must return to jobs that conflict with breast-feeding; others are embarrassed or worry they'll put on weight, ruin their breasts and be stuck with a special, unappetizing diet.
None of these objections hold up, maintain the authors in this revised guide that has sold more than a million copies.
Wonderfully supportive, they make the following suggestions: Don't accept the six-pack of formula many hospitals dispense. Choose "rooming-in" at the hospital; relax and pamper yourself at home. Hire help, if at all feasible; enlist the father's aid and/or that of friends and relatives. Finally, join a support group like La Leche League or International Childbirth Education Assn. (locations in the Yellow Pages).
In urging mothers to breast-feed, if only for the first month, the authors point out that if you're not successful, the vast resources of the infant-formula industry are at the ready.