"The Homoeopathic Physician's Guide to Lactation"
Patricia Hatherly's book sets out to provide a complete understanding of all the issues surrounding breastfeeding, and it really does cover them all. Although titled The Homoeopathic Physician's Guide, it has something for pretty well everyone. There is enough anatomy and physiology to satisfy doctors, midwives and nutritionists. It contains some excellent practical advice for midwives, health visitors and new mums, and is written with a sensitivity and understanding which is rarely afforded to mothers these days.
An exhaustive amount of research has gone into the book, evident in the thorough referencing at the end of each chapter. She also tends to drop in some little gems of materia medica information, often from her own clinical experience, so if you try to skim-read, you will miss a lot; it is worth spending time on.
The first chapter covers the anatomical features of the breast, including breast development in puberty, changes in pregnancy and the action of hormones. She closes with a lovely reminder that the breasts lie over the mother's heart chakra, and the suckling baby learns to accept love as well as food, from this wonderful process.
The next three chapters contain detailed information about breast physiology and the composition of human milk, and offer a thorough and convincing argument for breastfeeding from both physiological and psychological points of view. She quotes research stating: "Infants who are fed artificially are biologically different from those who are breastfed".[and] are deprived of the various immune factors present in human milk". In her discussion of the psychological factors she makes references to such issues as low self-esteem and confidence, anxiety, poor concentration symptoms commonly found among the Lacs.
So what do you do for women who do not feel happy to breastfeed, or have problems? There are chapters covering the establishment and maintenance of feeding, including advice on technique, diet and of course many remedies, useful for all the common problems and some that are not so common.
Patricia Hatherly has many years' experience as a homoeopath and lactation consultant, and supervised the proving of Lac Maternum in 2002. She gives an interesting discussion of Lac caninum, Lac humanum and Lac maternum, focusing on the psychological states and archetypal themes, but also including symptom tables, which provide useful references for the consulting room. She closes with one of her own cases illustrating the complementary relationship between Lac humanum and Lac maternum.
One of the things I particularly liked about this book was that, although complex in some areas for those with a non-scientific background (I confess some of the chemistry went well over my head), she has not lost sight of the fact that the most important people to educate are ordinary mums. The book contains a great deal of useful advice, and the author has simplified and packaged it in a series of appendices, which she gives us permission to copy as handouts. For anyone working regularly with new mums, it is an invaluable reference book, written with precision, passion and enthusiasm.
The Hompath Autumn 2005, 24:2