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by Judy Antell


When Andi Silverman was a new mom and had questions about breastfeeding, she couldn’t find a ‘user-friendly’ book.  The reference manuals she consulted didn’t offer her the tips and information she wanted to have right at hand. So, as a journalist, she set about finding the answers. The result is the new book, Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner's Guide to Breastfeeding (Quirk Books, $14.95).

   The Upper West Side mother of two boys, 18 months and 3, says she started the book, “when I realized that I knew more about my baby’s car seat, stroller and crib than I did about breastfeeding.” Her research uncovered many more women who knew what they needed to buy for baby, but not how to intimately care for a newborn.  Silverman, who has both a law degree and a graduate degree in journalism, took a course in breastfeeding before she became a mom, but says the information didn’t penetrate.  Her book offers quick tips in a way that’s easy to process; she envisions new moms thumbing through it with one hand while nursing their baby with the other. Manhattan pediatrician Dr. Stephanie Freilach, who wrote the forward, has four young children.
   Silverman says she wishes she’d “had a better sense of how feeding evolves over the months.”  Initially overwhelmed by round-the-clock nursing, and shell-shocked by the relentless schedule feeding-on-demand entailed, she recalls it was hard to imagine that it really gets easier.
   She also quickly figured out on her own “how not to be shy” when breastfeeding. “Nothing was going to stop me,” she recalls, adding that she nursed everywhere. Even when she felt uncomfortable, she says she “projected an aura of nonchalance,” not wanting to deny her baby nourishment because she was embarrassed.  In a chapter on breastfeeding etiquette, she offers a series of answers to nosy questions. When a relative asks how long you’re going to breastfeed, you can give a polite answer, a flip answer (“when he goes to college”), or a reverse-the-tables answer, such as,  “What do you recommend?”
   Silverman stresses that her book is non-judgmental, and that she feels breastfeeding is a matter of personal choice.  “We’re really lucky to live in a developed country where we can use formula, where we have access to clean water and the ability to sterilize bottles,” she says.  Silverman compares the decision to breastfeed to the decision to go back to work or stay at home.  “You don’t have to decide ahead of time, but you do need to educate yourself so you can make an informed decision,” she believes.  “I naively thought I could work and take care of my son.” She made the choice to trade sleep for work time when the boys are in bed at night.  

    Silverman is planning a series of Mama Knows books, carving a niche in the saturated parenting book market. She already reaches tens of thousands of new moms who read her blog, www.mamaknowsbreast.com, and says she finds that mothers are constantly online and want their information fast.  The blog’s subtitle, Adventures in Breastfeeding, reflects Silverman’s status:  Neophyte no longer, she offers breastfeeding and parenting advice to new moms worldwide.

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