Helpful Resources for Pregnancy
I’ve always loved to read. Since I was a kid, my nose has always been buried in a book.
And since the day I found out I was pregnant, I’ve had said nose stuck between the pages of one parenting, pregnancy and baby book or another. I didn’t plan to become pregnant, and when I found out I was, I felt totally unprepared to be pregnant, to give birth and to be a mother.
So, I started reading. Knowledge is power, right? I felt like, if I were going to be any good at this parenting thing at all, I’d better educate myself.
I started with Jenny McCarthy’s Belly Laughs , a sort of icebreaker to warm me up to the idea of having a baby. While only slightly informing, McCarthy’s book did make me chuckle, and I soon moved on to the other books new mothers typically find themselves reading: Vicki Iovine’s The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy and, of course, Heidi Murkoff’s What to Expect When You’re Expecting, for example.
These books did well to introduce me to the journey pregnancy and motherhood would take me on, but as I engaged in conversations with a few girlfriends who were going the natural route, I began to crave, not just general information regarding the wacky things happening to my body, but also ways in which I could best nourish and protect that body and the little life inside of it. And when I finally made the decision to have a natural birth, I was desperate for stories of other natural births – positive, encouraging stories of successful, stress-free deliveries. So much of what new mothers hear are terrifying stories of births gone horribly awry.
So, on the recommendation of a few friends, I began reading what I call the good parenting books – the ones not hell-bent on setting you up for the worst-case scenario. The ones offering a holistic perspective to pregnancy, birth and parenting.
If you’re at all interested in natural birth or holistic parenting, I suggest you forgo the common, mainstream reads and check out a few of the following. All advocate healthy, natural practices and encourage holistic choices. Best of all, they offer support to parents who, because of pressures from friends and family, may feel like their beliefs and choices are “crazy” or “weird.” (They’re not, by the way.)
You can Google any of these titles to find more information, check your local library or bookstore for the titles.
The Pregnancy Book, Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, R.N.: The Searses are medical professionals and parents who have largely forgone conventional medicine for natural, holistic and homeopathic remedies and practices instead. They advocate attachment parenting styles and offer encouragement, from a medical perspective as well as that of a fellow parent, for making positive, natural choices.
A Holistic Guide to Embracing Pregnancy, Childbirth and Motherhood, Karen Salt: Salt’s take on pregnancy, birth and motherhood are that they are not strange, scary things happening to you, but that they are exciting, natural processes through which your mind, body and spirit are going. She offers calming, reassuring advice on how to experience and enjoy the year-long journey you’re on.
The Birth Book, Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, R.N.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin: Ina May Gaskin is one of the country’s leading midwives, and this book offers wonderful, beautiful stories of successful natural births. While sometimes a bit graphic for conventional tastes, the stories are wonderfully uplifting for anyone considering natural birth.
Spiritual Midwifery, Ina May Gaskin
Childbirth Without Fear, Grantley Dick-Read: First published in 1933, at a time when most births were conducted while the mother was under anesthesia, Dick-Read challenged conventional thinking of his time – that childbirth was a painful, unnatural process requiring medication and forceps. By observing women in third-world countries naturally and painlessly birth their babies, and then reporting on it in the Western world, Dick-Read was able to challenge conventional wisdom and change popular thinking about childbirth. This is the book on which many modern natural birth proponents base their thinking.
Husband-Coached Childbirth: The Bradley Way Method of Natural Childbirth, Robert A. Bradley: The Bradley method of birthing is one of the most popular natural approaches to childbirth, combining whole body health with partner-coached relaxation techniques to achieve natural birth. Bradley classes are available in Tulsa and typically run 12 weeks.
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg
The Breastfeeding Book, Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, R.N.
The Nursing Mother’s Companion, Kathleen Huggins
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, La Leche League International
(All of these titles provide thorough, thought-out information and support for breastfeeding mothers.)
The Baby Book, Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, R.N.: Often referred to as the “Baby Bible,” this book provides answers to nearly every question you’ll have about your baby from birth until two. There are also wonderful chapters on baby wearing, co-sleeping and nighttime parenting. I refer to the index almost every time I’m curious or have a question about some aspect of my son’s development or behavior.
The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby, Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, R.N.
The Discipline Book, Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, R.N.
The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night, Elizabeth Pantley: Working off of the nighttime parenting solutions offered by the Searses, Pantley provides sleep suggestions for parents who refuse to “cry it out.” What I love is that she stresses the importance of having a sleeping routine designed for the preferences of your family and not what others think you should or should not do. There’s a toddler version of this book, too.
The Happiest Baby on the Block: New Ways to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer, Harvey Karp: By the time I read this, it was a little too late to implement any of the strategies Karp suggests, but I know parents of newborns who’ve had success with this book.