Attached at the Heart is written by the co-founders of Attachment Parenting International (API),
who began their parenting with LLL and first learned about attachment parenting from the books
of William Sears. Thus the book is an excellent fit with LLL philosophy. It not only discusses
breastfeeding as the optimal feeding method for babies, but also talks about breastfeeding in the
context of developing healthy relationships and becoming attuned to our babies by responding to
feeding cues and being in close physical proximity. Weaning ‘gradually, with love’ is encouraged.
Starting solids is mentioned, along with LLL philosophy – almost word for word – of nutritious food
being in as close to its natural state as possible. The chapter on positive discipline fits with LLL
philosophy around loving guidance.
It covers API’s Eight Principles of Parenting:
1. Prepare yourself for pregnancy, birth and parenting
2. Feed with love and respect
3. Respond with sensitivity
4. Use nurturing touch
5. Ensure safe sleep – physically and emotionally
6. Provide consistent, loving care
7. Practice positive discipline
8. Strive for balance in your personal and family life.
One reviewer mentioned Chapters 7 and 8 in particular. In Chapter 7 the authors list their top 25
tips (pp 225-240) for practising positive discipline. This list is extensive, understandable and
practical. Many families will also appreciate Chapter 8, ‘Strive for Balance in your personal and
family life’. We know that many well meaning friends or family may recommend separation from
our babies as a healthy choice for ‘me time’. This chapter offers much support for our style of
parenting while respecting the needs of our children and again offers many practical ideas. There
is also a section on the myths and facts about attachment parenting and Appendix B is a list of 12
questions for parental self-reflection. This is a wonderful tool for assisting parents to really
understand themselves and their behaviours and is highly recommended to all parents-to-be.
The book is written in an easy-to-read style. It has extensive references and a long list of
recommended reading, including many familiar books from our Group Libraries. It is highly
recommended by both reviewers for inclusion in Group Libraries and could also be of interest to
health professionals. Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker have done a beautiful job of articulating
the philosophy, offering practical suggestions and encouraging us to connect with our own hearts
while trusting our instincts as parents.
Original review, printed in Aroha Volume 13 Number 6
Attached at the Heart – 8 Proven Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children
Barbara Nicolson and Lysa Parker
iUniverse.com, USA 2009
Reviewed by Donna Henderson and Connor Kelly
Combined review by Rosemary Gordon, LLLNZ Book Review Convenor
The author (a mother of three breastfed babies, LLL Leader and midwife) states this book is “a new
approach to breastfeeding”, and its approach is very different to the usual teaching breastfeeding
management styles that have been in practice for some years now. Contrary to complicated
instructions that some women find confusing (put this hand there, the other here, do this, do
that), Colson advocates suggesting women lie in a semi-reclining position, place their babies on
their abdomens and let the babies do the rest themselves.
This book arose from the author’s PhD thesis, when she identified what she termed “primitive
neonatal reflexes”, which are a wider array of newborn reflexes than those routinely recognised.
These both encourage and facilitate correct attachment (so avoiding the sore nipples that are
common in mother-directed breastfeeding positions that work against gravity).
Colson makes a convincing case, using both maternal and neonatal physiology to demonstrate the
advantages of this approach. Opening up the maternal torso by assuming a semi-reclining position
allows a greater surface area for a display of newborn behaviours that allows self-attachment to
occur and also has an effect on a mother’s behavioural state, which moves from “thinking,
concentrating or worrying to relaxation” (p. 99).
I appreciated her point that right after birth, the aim should not be having a ‘settled’ baby, but
having a baby that has made a successful transition from foetus to newborn. Colson maintains
that babies who cry when placed in a cot are not so often hungry as not in the right place to make
this transition, which is next to mum.
The author asserts that breastfeeding is not a skill like learning to ride a bike or drive a car (as it is
frequently compared to), as these are learned activities that are enhancements, not essentials to a
healthy life. Rather, it is an activity akin to breathing and communication, as these are essentials
for a healthy relationship and lifestyle. By equating breastfeeding to a learned activity, Colson
claims that new mothers are left feeling helpless and vulnerable without expert guidance on how
to do this ‘right’.
Colson summarises the biological nurturing (BN) approach as one which allows an environment
that is conducive to releasing the primary breastfeeding hormones (oxytocin and prolactin) and
trusts mothers’ innate maternal behaviours and instincts that release baby behaviours that lead to
As many women don’t come to Series Meetings until after their babies are born, Colson
underscores a couple of points relevant to those past the newborn stage.
The first is the author’s contention that skin to skin contact is not an essential component of
successful breastfeeding. She correctly identifies this as being problematic for some mothers (well,
all mothers in public!) and asserts that based on her extensive video evidence all the elements of
BN come together successfully even when mothers and babies are lightly clad.
The second is she argues that this is not an all or nothing opportunity. If you have missed out on
biological nurturing in the first few days after birth, you and your baby can reconnect further
down the track by putting the principles into practice at a later time.
Although it is obvious that this book has emerged from a thesis, which may make parts of it heavy
going for some readers, I can see it being a useful reference for Leaders as well as a good read for
many mothers. This is not a huge book to get through; the main text is only 118 smallish pages.
There are numerous photos and drawings that serve to illustrate her points, an extensive
reference list, and a reasonable index.
Original review, printed in Aroha Volume 13 Number 3
An Introduction to Biological Nurturing – New Angles on Breastfeeding
By Susanne Colson
Hale Publishing, 2010
Reviewed by Robin Jones Greif , LLLNZ
The ABCs of Breastfeeding is divided into four sections:
– things to consider before birth
– beginning to breastfeed your baby
– continuing to breastfeed comfortably into the future and
– developing your own happy ending
Each section is split into chapters and each chapter ends with an A, B and C of breastfeeding
which summarises what was covered in the chapter and provides easy-to-review points. The
book is also thoroughly referenced with each chapter covered in the notes at the back.
Stacey Rubin is a nurse and lactation consultant in private practice who has breastfed two
children. She has used her practice as the basis for this book, which gives its examples and case
studies a sense of reality. They cover all those questions that regularly come up during Series
Meetings, including sleep and returning to paid employment. The author has views which mirror
La Leche League’s and more than once, she recommends contacting La Leche League.
The US background of the author is obvious in the references to American obstetric practices, and the use of doulas, but the breastfeeding information is internationally relevant.
Original review, printed in Aroha Volume 13 Number 1
The ABCs of Breastfeeding
By Stacey H. Rubin
Published by AMACOM, 2008
Reviewed by Andie Collett and Donna Henderson
This combined review written by Jill Allan, LLLNZ Book Review Convenor.