Hirkani’s Daughters- a Book Review

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The title of this wonderful collection of memoirs comes from an Indian folktale, in which a mother’s love for her child is so strong that she escapes a walled city at night and climbs down a cliff in order to feed her child.  Though modern mothers may not often encounter these same sorts of geographic barriers to breastfeeding, cultural and societal cliffs do interfere for so many mothers wishing to give their milk to their children.

The book divides mothers’ personal stories by continent, but the memories shared are universal.  Mothers all over the world long to provide the nutritional and emotional benefit of breastfeeding while still contributing financially to their family.   Jennifer Hicks points out in her introduction that women have always worked and cared for their children, and that many women continue to work in both paid and unpaid jobs while nurturing children  all over the world.  This book compiles compelling memoirs of those who work outside the home and express breastmilk in all sorts of jobs all over the globe.  Mothers share their stories in their own words.  Particularly compelling were those of a Mexican housemaid who was encouraged to breastfeed by her employer (after having switched to formula) and the story of the mother of four who breastfed her last child after chemo and mastectomy.  With only her heart on her left side, she still nursed her baby with her remaining breast!

A beautiful collection, which also highlights public policy surrounding breastfeeding!  Recommended for anyone who has lactivist leanings, interest in public health, or who just enjoys reading the stories of women and their nursing babies around the world.  The push for maternal leave and positive workplace policy surrounding breastfeeding and milk expression  must continue in the US.  There is more work to be done!

 

 

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