I often get asked for book recommendations from newly pregnant women – I can only assume it’s because they’ve already read every nook and cranny of Pregnant Chicken (cough).
I actually read quite a few books the first time around and I didn’t like many of them (I was lucky to read a cereal box the second time). I found they were either scary, patronizing or both, and none of them made me feel more prepared for the arrival of my son. Instead, they made me feel completely incompetent and overwhelmed at my inevitable failure as a mother.
So I decided to ask you guys what you thought and you came up with some great ones!
I’ve listed most of them here but feel free to check out the original link on Facebook for even more good reads.
“I Am Woman!” Books
One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t read more birth books. I was going to have a hospital birth and was going to get my epidural as soon as humanly possible so I figured that I didn’t need to read up on this hippy stuff. Well, if you run a pregnancy website for a while, you really get to see how fear based this industry is and many of the magazine headlines and website teasers are crafted to get your attention and often scare the shit out of you.
Books like these give you the big picture. These are the books that remind you that women have been giving birth for a long, damn time and our bodies are set up to deliver a baby. Regardless of what your birth plan is, they are a good read.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth: If you’ve never heard of Ina May Gaskin, she’s the Obi Wan of midwifery (I love that word). This lady knows her stuff and has been bringing babies into the world for over 30 years.
“Reading this book will make you feel confident about your body’s ability to give birth, as well as positive and excited about the birth experience.”
Birthing from Within: As a designer, the cover of this book gives me diarrhea. As a woman, this book gives me a feeling of real control and empowerment.
“I recommend this book to any expectant mother, no matter what type of birth she intends to have. “Birthing from Within” helps you get in touch with yourself and your expectations, fears, and hopes to allow you to make the birth of your child a very personal and soulful experience.”
“Nitty Gritty” Books
The majority of books I read when I was pregnant was this type. I wanted to know all the little details because I thought I would feel more prepared when I knew all the facts.
They are great for getting a crash course in birth without having to become an OBGYN, but a word of warning, these books become dated fast (that probably says something too) so if someone gives a book that is over five years old, chances are a portion of it is no longer applicable.
Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: The Mayo Clinic has always been a reliable source for information and this sounds like it’s a pretty good read and many women preferred this book to the “What to Expect” series.
The Baby Book, Revised Edition: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two: I’ve always been a big fan of Dr. Sears. Not just because of his hippy leanings, but because of his trust-your-gut philosophy.
“This is such a great reference, but the best advice in the whole book is that what works for you and your family is right for your child.”
This is another area where I wish I’d really knew my shit before giving birth. I just assumed that breastfeeding would be all easy peasy and I just needed to get the hang of it. Well, sort of. Breastfeeding can be tricky and to add to that pressure, you have a baby that has to eat NOW all the time.
Breastfeeding issues are one of the most popular questions on the Ask the Chicks forum, so going in armed with some knowledge is never a bad thing and can really help with a 2am crisis moment.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding: This book is written by the La Leche League so it’s going to be pretty pro-boob to say the least, but this is a community that has supported breastfeeding moms and babies for years so they know where the stumbling blocks might be.
Breastfeeding Made Simple: I like how supportive and encouraging this book sounds. Although, as with all breastfeeding books, it is, well, big on breastfeeding, and it’s pretty hard to argue for something without getting pretty heavy about the negative and that can come off as being judgemental to some. Take it with a grain of salt and just take in the info.
“I am a birth doula and refer to this book all the time. The chapters are organized in such a way that makes it very easy to find solutions to common concerns.”
Pregnant women are bombarded by lists of no-nos and “Top 10 Things a Pregnant Woman Should NEVER Do!” because click-bait sells, but if you really want to arm yourself with the facts and risks, these books are awesome.
The Panic-Free Pregnancy: I love that this doctor has actually stepped up rather than hiding behind all the “just to be on the safe side” crap. Some people criticize him for being too lax about certain topics, but you’re a big girl and know what you’re comfortable with doing and what you’re not. It’s refreshing to see the pendulum swing to the other side of the hysteria is all I can say.
“I’m about to be a second-time mommy and I learned an awful lot from this book and found that I avoided sushi for no reason during my last pregnancy! that will not be happening this time around!”
Expecting Better: Another book that’s backed up with facts rather than just-to-be-on-the-safe-side myths.
“A must-read for any pregnant (or trying to get pregnant) person who wants an advice book that’s devoid of preachy rules, but full of information that will enable you to make your own decisions.”
Debunking the Bump: This sucker is filled with practical, actionable recommendations and clear explanations of risks and trade-offs. I love that the author is a numbers freak. This book is truly fascinating.
“This book is necessary. She breaks down the real dangers and gives a realistic assessment of risk. I wish I had this before I was ever pregnant. Even now, it’s helping me live a healthier, less paranoid, life.”
Sometimes it just nice to read a book by someone who gets it and, while everyone’s birth is completely different, there is something comforting about reading about birth from someone who’s actually given birth. Obviously, I’ll sing a different tune when I launch my “Beauty of Being Kicked in the Balls” series.
From the Hips: This book features experiences from a whole collection of people (parents, doctors, midwives) so you’re not just getting one point of view. It’s praise for its non-judgement view on and friendly approach without sugar coating anything.
“The authors are clearly really funny, warm women who have BEEN THERE. They take their subject very seriously but are also capable of laughing at themselves and at this insane ride we call parenting.”
The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy: This is a fun tell-it-like-it-is book that gives you the down low on pregnancy in a friendly, non-scary way. Some people really pick on it for being too “west-coast-white-upper-middle-class” but I found many of those people missed the point of the book’s humour – plus, I’m always a little leery of people that say they have an excellent sense of humour yet didn’t find something funny – as if humour isn’t subjective – but maybe that’s just because I’m hysterical (snort).
It’s Really 10 Months: I love how this book is broken down into short stories. It’s a great, funny, informative read that makes you feel like you’re at a table chatting with your friends.
“This book skillfully takes on all the disgusting and disturbing things that no one tells you about pregnancy. Reading it is like having a conversation with your best friend…say anything and feel anything and it’s all good :)”
Speaking of humor, I know I just said humor is very subjective, but if you read this site, clearly you are a funny aficionado a have a finely tuned sense of wit and charm – I mean c’mon. So, I’m sure you’ll appreciate a little taste of humor in these pregnancy books because, as my accountant says, “If you can’t take a joke, don’t have kids.”