I had originally planned for this post to be a list of ALL the things I recommend for preparing yourself for birth. But, well, if you know me, you know how much I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE books, so this list got away from me. So this is part one, and its all about books. There will be a part 2, and possibly part 3, with a list of other things I think you should have or do to prepare yourself for labor and birth. But for today - BOOKS!
Here is the list of books that I generally recommend to my patients during pregnancy:
1. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (Ina May Gaskin)
If you only read one book to prepare for child birth, make it this one. The first half of the book is just a bunch of really positive birth stories (and since we live in a world where people like to tell you their scary, terrible birth stories, I think its important that you know birth can be beautiful and, dare I say it, FUN!). In the second half of the book, Ina May talks about the practical side of birth - inductions, c-section, episiotomies, epidurals - and the research supporting more natural options. She also gives advice on ways to prepare your mind and body for natural childbirth. This book is an invaluable resource.
2. The Birth Partner (Penny Simkin)
I recommend this book to anyone who will be a support person for mom during labor - dad, grandma, best friend, etc - because it gives great information on helping a laboring woman navigate the childbirth process. (I promise you, your doula has read this book!) I find that dads especially like the very practical useful knowledge this book provides. It helps lower their anxiety about what their "job" is during labor. And lower anxiety for your partner probably means lower anxiety for you!
3. Real Food for Pregnancy (Lily Nichols)
Lily Nichols is a registered dietician who wrote the book "Real Food for Gestational Diabetes" after doing a ton of research and realizing that the current recommended diet for GD was actually doing more harm than good to pregnant mamas. Her book was so well received that she wrote a second book, for all mamas, not just ones with gestational diabetes. This book is AMAZING and gives cutting edge information on what you should be eating to grow a healthy baby and to stay strong and healthy yourself. She backs up her recommendations with a ton of research. I think every pregnant woman should read this book.
4. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (La Leche League International)
I would be remiss if I didn't include a breastfeeding book as well. Ina May Gaskin wrote a breastfeeding book too (appropriately titled "Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding") and while I like it, THIS book from La Leche League is considered gospel when it comes to books on breastfeeding. If you have a question about breastfeeding, the answer is probably in this book. Read it while you are pregnant, and then keep it handy for when baby gets here and you forget everything you read and you have a question at 2am.
5. The Fourth Trimester (Kimberly Ann Johnson)
This book is an important one. We spend so much of our pregnancies prepare for labor and birth, that, if you're like me, you find yourself with a baby in your arms and straight panic in your mind because you have no idea what comes next. Kimberly Ann Johnson does a great job of preparing you for the first 12 weeks after baby arrives, what has been dubbed "The Fourth Trimester". Its important to prepare for the post-partum period so that you can care for yourself and your new baby without having to panic.
I'm going to stop here with my official list. There are literally thousands of books written about pregnancy and childbirth, but these are the 5 that I think are essential. Other books that you might consider reading, once you've read the ones above include:
The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland
Birthing From Within by Pam England
The First Forty Days by Heng Ou
I could go on forever. But pregnancy is only 9 months, so I'll stop here. I'd love to hear from you though - what books did you read during pregnancy that helped you prepare? Or what books would you recommend NOT reading? Let me know what you read to prepare, and next week we'll talk about my favorite apps, podcasts, movies, and other media for preparing for childbirth.