One of the first things I did after finding out that we were going to have a baby was run out and buy books. I was so excited when my doctor confirmed our pregnancy that on my way home from work I stopped and bought books without first reviewing them. Money down the drain. I bought three books that I have NEVER used. In fact, I recycled them. I then began researching pregnancy books (and if you know anything about me, you should know I LOVE researching things). Below are the books I have loved during my pregnancy. I can honestly say that I have read each of these books and have used them for every single week of my pregnancy. I think that is money well spent!
Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: We were fortunate enough to be able to take our home birth classes from Penny Simkin (who is a celebrity in the childbirth world) so while this may seem biased, it really isn’t. This book has more information than any of the other books I purchased. In fact, it answers everything so clearly and provides many options for many problems/issues. I have had this book next to our couch the entire pregnancy; whenever I have a question or want to know something, I just grab this book. It truly is amazing in covering not only the pregnancy, but labor and life after baby. Very clear and absolutely essential!
The Birth Partner: This was another book that was provided to us by Penny Simkin. This book is meant to be read by the birth partner, doula, labor coach…aka Manfriend. He has been reading this book at night and he has learned a lot. I haven’t actually read this book but I have referenced it a few times. It is very thorough and I notice that Manfriend will often mention things that he has read about, such as natural induction methods, my mood changes, comforting me etc. Both of Penny Simkin’s books are written so well that you never get bored reading them because they are so easy to follow. I feel that between our class with Penny Simkin and these two books, we are as prepared as we can be and that is a great feeling.
Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: I kept this book in my car during the first two trimesters. I like that there is a week by week analysis of the baby and your body so you know what is going on each week. This book is organized really well and has a section at the end with a wealth of information about specifics during pregnancy. The main reason I chose this book is for the week by week explanations; it was exciting each week to see how much bigger the baby was and the changes he was going through. It made me excited for the upcoming weeks. It specifically tells you how your body is changing (breasts, digestion, vagina, etc) and what to expect from these changes.
The Belly Book: This is a pregnancy journal for each week of pregnancy and it is fun to look back and see how much my belly grew each week. It also includes really fun little snipits, such as music you are listening to at the moment, foods you are repulsed by/cravings, when your belly button popped, when you first felt movement, when strangers began touching your belly, and the list goes on. I often look back through this book to see how dramatically I changed (and also because I forgot what I looked like before). This definitely a keepsake book that I am so grateful to own.
The Pregnancy Journal: This book is also a pregnancy journal, but it documents each and every day of your pregnancy. I like that this book focuses on being healthy during pregnancy and gives many bits of information on how to nourish your body and your baby. It also includes really fun information about different cultures such as how pregnant women and babies are treated in other cultures (this part is really interesting). While there is no room for you to take pictures, it does allow for you to track your moods, your appetite, how you are feeling and your own personal feelings. I liked using this book in tandem with the Belly Book.
Happiest Baby on the Block: This book was recommended in our childbirth class because it focuses on the 4th trimester of pregnancy. Yes, the fourth trimester. It explains how the first three months of life are actually the fourth trimester and how treating your baby as though it is still in the womb helps calm your baby and helps them sleep better. It covers the 5 S’s: Swaddling, Side/Stomach, Shhing, Swinging, and Suckling and how the combination of these things helps to soothe your baby and activate their calming reflex. We have yet to try out these methods but I can assure you, I have only heard positive things and if it is a success, we will certainly purchase The Happiest Toddler on the Block.
Life’s Greatest Miracle: This is a PBS Nova video and you can watch it for free online. I show this video each year in my Marriage and the Family course because it explains the biological process of making a baby and provides the most amazing camera footage of what is going on inside the womb as the baby grows. It is narrated by John Lithgow and it follows a couples’ pregnancy journey to add a real-life dimension. One of my favorite things about this video is watching people’s faces as they watch it; some of the things they learn/hear causes physical reactions. I’ve watched it about 10 times and it never gets old.
In the Womb: My sister told me about this video after watching it in her Anatomy class. This is a National Geographic film so going in, you know it will be really interesting. Though, it isn’t as good as the previous video (to me), it is still worth watching as it covers a lot of different material than the previous video. The most intriguing aspect is that you get to see what is going on inside of the body and how the baby is forming and developing. There were some interesting statistics presented that I had never heard before so those things were interesting to learn. Overall, it is eye-opening and a great film to watch.
As you can see, I have been reading a lot (and that is me excluding the 3 books that stunk!) I wonder if other pregnant women have done this much research…The thing with pregnancy is: there are a zillion books on the market and all claim to be “the best” but it seems like most end up being useless. It is up to each consumer to determine what the best is, but I have definitely found these to be the most concise, informative and easiest to follow. My test is this: if I continually reach for these books and waddle around searching for letters on pages over Dr. Google, then it is a good book.
Hopefully some of you will get use out of these books as we have!