Posted by: Admin | July 17, 2011

The Week-End Blog – Breastfeeding in Books – Part One

I am an avid reader! I have been reading novels for as long as I can remember. Books do a lot for me: they transport me into another world, they teach me about things, they make me discover faraway countries and they give me a view of how other cultures live and love. I especially like novels that have sequels. One of the many books I read during my teenage years was The Clan of the Cave Bear, which is the first book of Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children book series. The books are historical novels about prehistoric times. One aspect of her books that I have always appreciated is the importance she gives to nature and the people’s fundamental link to it.

Breastfeeding is always portrayed in a positive manner by Auel.  Mind you, she does not have much choice as there were no other feeding modes in prehistoric times! Not being breastfed led to death, and that is why her novels talk a lot about adoptive breastfeeding, milk brothers, etc. Here is an excerpt from her most recent book, The Land of Painted Caves, published this year:

When she offered her breast, the baby went for it eagerly. Since her own mother’s milk had dried up more than a year before, many other women had taken turns feeding her and she was used to taking milk from any woman who offered. She also ate different kinds of solid food that Ayla had taught Lanoga to make for her. Considering her difficult beginning, Lorala was a remarkably healthy, happy, gregarious, though somewhat undersized child. The women who fed her took a certain pride in her good health and good nature, knowing that they had contributed to it. Ayla knew that they had kept the baby alive, but Provela knew it was Ayla’s idea originally, after she discovered that Tremeda’s milk had dried up.” Auel, J.M. 2011, The Land of the Painted Caves in Earth’s Children, Crown Publishers, New York (E-Book, Chapter 6, page 4).

Ms Auel researched the prehistoric times well and, at the time her first books were published, she received many good reviews on the exactitude of the chronology and depiction of that era. Nowadays, as anthropology has seen a few recent discoveries, some point out discrepancies.

In her books, the author shows an interest in all things woman-related and approaches delicate subject such as domestic violence, rape and incest in a blunt but respectful manner. Her strong interest in pregnancy, labor and delivery is what I prefer most about the Earth’s Children series, and I am sure many of you will be interested when she writes about traditional healing.

I can already see myself reading this book by the beach while the wind is playing in my hair…Oops, what is wrong with this picture? Oh yes…I forgot for a minute that I have a six-year-old… I will more likely be knee-deep in the water being splashed and yelling endlessly to my daughter to come back closer to the shore… Ah, the joy of motherhood! But seriously, I would never wish for anything different.

I will read when she falls asleep…if I can keep my eyes open, that is.


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