After writing My Reading List: 7 Years of God & Relationships, I was asked to also publish which books I found helpful during my pregnancy and newborn baby stage.
I started reading early on in my pregnancy because I’m big on being prepared. I like to do the work up front and then sit back and enjoy the ride. If you’re not this type of person, I highly recommend making an effort to do this during your pregnancy because when it comes to having a baby, trying to cram in reading or too much preparation in your last couple months of pregnancy can be stressful and you’re likely to end up at the hospital a little clueless when you run out of time.
Disclaimer: My reading list is simply based on what I personally read and I don’t claim to have THEE best reading list. If you’re pregnant, its always good to ask around to other people who have young kids and ask them what resources they found helpful. As a mom, you’ll find that other moms you know will be some of your greatest resources.
Introduction: Currently, there are so many black and white opposing schools of thought when it comes to pregnancy, giving birth and newborns. No alcohol vs. limited alcohol, hospitals vs. home birth, natural delivery vs. epidurals and interventions, co-sleeping and attachment theory vs. crying it out and sleep training, circumcision vs. in-tact, vaccinations vs. no vaccinations…honestly it’s enough to make your head spin around three times. I think mine did. However, while these overwhelming choices sometimes make us want to just not think about it, as parents we will not always have clear cut answers on what is best for our children. The best thing we can do for them is to learn what we can, follow our hearts and then stand by our decisions.
Reading List: (in the order that I read them)
The Birth Book, Sears and Sears- This book blew my mind. It provides the history of how birth has evolved over time and helps you understand that birth is a natural process, not a medical event (most of the time). It also answers almost any question you may have about what giving birth will actually be like.k
The Breastfeeding Book, Sears and Sears- Some of the best advice I ever got while pregnant was from my friend Kristen. She told me that so many people forget to really think about breastfeeding until the baby is actually in their arms. However, once you’re holding your baby, most of your time is spent breastfeeding. Therefore, if you want it to be an enjoyable, smooth process it’s really important to know what to expect.
The Happiest Baby on the Block, Harvey Karp, M.D. -You have to read this book (or at least skim it). It’s all about how to sooth newborns and it gives you an understanding of what newborn babies experience in their first few months of life. I used these soothing techniques all the time. l
The Vaccine Book, Sears- Vaccines are so controversial right now. The Vaccine Book takes a look at each vaccine available and explores the pros and cons to each one. Dr Robert Sears does not tell parents whether they should vaccinate or not, but shares the information available. After reading this book, we personally decided to give Cameron most of the vaccines, but on Dr. Sears’ Alternative Vaccine Schedule which spaces out the vaccines and delays some until later into childhood. But as Dr. Sears says, there really isn’t enough research on vaccines so decisions are difficult. Here is another post I wrote about vaccines if you’re interested. k
The Baby Book, Sears and Sears -This book was SO helpful during the first few months of Cameron’s life. I never read this book from front to back (it’s huge!), but I used it as more of a reference book when we had questions. In the first few weeks of having a baby at home, you’re likely to have a bazillion questions and want a reliable source of information instead of Googling your questions and reading opinions on message boards. This book saved us from calling the pediatrician everyday with a list of questions. k
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Marc Weissbluth, M.D. -This book was a must read after reading a lot from Sears and Sears who are big proponents of co-sleeping and attachment theory. I respected their take on the issue and gleaned a lot from their experience, however, once Cameron was actually here, my desires changed a bit. When I was pregnant I imagined keeping Cameron in my bed for at least a year. For a lot of my friends, this was a good choice for them. Yet, by the time Cameron was two months old he was sleeping a crib in his own room. Since every baby is unique, you may not know what to do about sleep arrangements until they’re here and you feel it out. This book provided a lot of scientific perspective on sleep, sleep cycles and how to approach sleep training. When I was pregnant and a new mom, the term ‘crying it out’ made me cringe. Once Cameron was four-ish months old I began to realize that a few nights of crying it out could help him develop long term healthy sleep habits, so I turned to this book and found a lot of helpful advice. k
Bringing Up BeBe, Pamela Druckerman- An interesting perspective on the differences between French and American parenting styles. This book is entertaining and helped me understand the importance of teaching children to wait, be patient and avoid instant gratification. I actually listed to this book on tape from my local library, which was great because with a newborn it’s nice to just kick back and listen to something. Feels like less work than reading. k
What To Expect When You’re Expecting – I honestly almost never used this book because I usually found myself on BabyCenter.com looking up things, but I think almost everyone who is pregnant has a copy of this book. k
The Business of Being Born (documentary) This documentary is controversial because it dives into the hospitals vs. home birth/birthing center discussion. I found it interesting even though it is largely biased.
Babies (documentary) This is a super cute documentary. It shows four different babies growing up in four different countries. There are no words, just adorable babies. If you’re pregnant this documentary will make you want to hold your little one so bad! k
Conslusion: For me personally, during my pregnancy I was very much set on having a completely natural birth. At first, I considered a home birth, but eventually changed my mind when I realized that if I did end up in the hospital afterall that I would be paying two bills: the home birth bill AND the hospital bill. That scared me. So I decided to go with midwives and deliver at the hospital in my town that was less known for surgical procedures and more focused on helping women have whatever kind of birth experience they wanted. I hired a doula as well to ease my mind.
My labor was very intense from the beginning. After a long while of intensifying pain I reached my breaking point and decided to get two rounds of pain meds followed by an epidural. That decision was also shared by my husband, midwife and doula. After receiving the epidural, I went from a 4 to a 10 in fifteen minutes and delivered Cameron soon after. In my case, an epidural at that time relaxed my body and allowed the labor to progress very quickly.
Labor is a crazy and you honestly never know what kind of experience you’re going to get. For me, I was glad that I had gone into the experience with the mindset that I could do it naturally. It helped me feel confident and secure. I didn’t go in saying, “give me drugs right now.” If you have that mindset you are actually much more likely to end up with some kind of stalled labor, tons of pitocin, and a higher risk of intervention and c-section.
In my personal, non-doctoral opinion, it’s best to approach labor with the mindset that you and your body are capable of birthing your child. Then if you find that labor is not turning out as you expected and you feel you need an epidural or meds, it’s best to be honest with yourself, not feel guilty, and just get on with birthing your baby as best you can. It’s better not to need medical intervention, but if you do need it, it’s better to have it than to deny it.
One of the greatest lessons I learned through my pregnancy and birthing experience was to reject mommy guilt. As a mom, you will always know moms who are more social, more productive, better dressed, more together, have more money, cleaner and seemingly happier than you. It doesn’t matter. As a mom, your job is to do the best you can personally do for your family. And if you find yourself envious of another mom you know, instead of judging her because of her strengths, decide to befriend her in hopes of having some of her awesomeness in a certain area rub off on you.
Being a mom is not a competition amongst other moms, it’s a labor of love to sweet, innocent, amazing little people that we’ve been entrusted with.
The Birth Book, Sears and Sears
The Breastfeeding Book, Sears and Sears
The Vaccine Book, Sears
The Happiest Baby on the Block, Harvey Karp, M.D.
The Baby Book, Sears and Sears
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Marc Weissbluth
Bringing Up BeBe, Pamela Druckerman
What To Expect When You’re Expecting
*Tip- Don’t buy any of these books new if you can help it. Check Amazon used books.