Normalizing the Natural

After Caroline was born, when nursing consumed much of my time and thoughts, (as if it doesn’t now!) I was surprised at how often nursing was mentioned in the fiction I was reading and on television. Was it always there and I just didn’t notice? A discussion came up recently on a listserv for breastfeeding counselors to which I subscribe, lamenting the lack of breastfeeding in fiction. The other list readers and I compiled this list of books that do have breastfeeding characters. When you put together a care package for a new mom, be sure to include oatmeal cookies and one of these novels. 🙂

Books I’ve read:
So, What do you do all day? by Amy Scheibe
Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
Life Studies by Susan Vreeland
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maquire
The Lucky Ones: A Novel by Rachel Cusk
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

Books others mentioned:
Ten Big Ones, Janet Evanovich
Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
The Wandering Hill, Larry McMurty
The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
Into the Forest, Jean Hegland
The Summer of my Amazing Luck, Miriam Toews
The Singer from the Sea, Sherri Tepper
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Lives touched by Breastfeeding ed by Boas, Hazell, and Casey
Strange Fits of Passion by Anita Shreve
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

Series that include breastfeeding as a given for their characters:
Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel
The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Skye O’Malley by Beatrice Small
Royal Diaries (young adult)
American Girl (young adult)

Authors who often included breastfeeding as the norm:
Nora Roberts
Danielle Steele
Catherine Asaro
Julian May
Teri Levitson
Susan Elizabeth Phillips

**I have not read all of these books myself. This list is a collaborative effort. If you have books to add, please email me or leave a comment. I’ll edit to add them!

2 thoughts on “Normalizing the Natural

  1. Don’t forget Susan Elizabeth Phillips. She manages to at least mention breastfeeding in each of her romance novels. Susan used to be either the Area Leader Administrator or Area conference Administrator I think it was the former)for LLL in the eastern US. She started writing the bookd with a neighbor after they said to each other that they bet they could write a romance novel as god as the ones they were reading. The neighbor dropped out, but Susan kept writing. I remember her at meetings with Judy Good when I was a Regional Administrator of Leaders many years ago.

  2. South American autors often mention breastfeeding in a very positive light and as something completely natural too.
    One of my favorite books is quite famous – “The house of the spirits” by Isabel Allende (there is a film based on the story, but no breastfeeding there).In the book Clara gives birth to twins (c-section on the kitchen table!) and to the horror of her familiy nurses both whenever they want, like little monkeys hanging on her breasts. She never accepts the idea to give them condensed milk, diluted with rice water (the fashion advice in her time), saying simply that if nature intended that babies be fed this mixture, it would be in the mother’s breasts.
    The other one is the novel “Like hot water for chocolate” by Laura Esquivel.Adoptive breastfeeding and induced lactation are mentioned there – a young virgin sister cares for the newborn of the other, offering the baby breast and sweet tees and eventually begins producing milk and fully nursing the little girl.
    Another book I read recently is a Malaysian story – The Rice mother by Rani Manicka, the story is at the time of WW2.The main character mentiones nursing on her mother’s breasts for full 8 years and living only on sweet mamma milk and sweet mango.Later in the story her own daughter is nursed by a friend – it begins right after the birth due to the illness of the mother and to her astonishment and blinding jealousy she discovers her daughter still nursing secretly on her friend’s breast by the time the little girl is 2 years old.

Comments are closed.