Top 10 Books for New Parents



You want to be prepared for birth and newborn care, and there are so many books on pregnancy and parenting! If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or just want to know where to start, here are our favorites. It’s a curated list that is midwife and lactation consultant approved!

For pregnancy and birth:

Pregnancy, Birth and Breastfeeding by Penny Simpkins. Your go-to guide for all the basics. It's a great cover to cover read or to use as an answer book for those questions you'd rather not google. Step away from google parents...we repeat step away from scary place of unending possibilities of what could go wrong and just look it up in this book. 

The Birth Partner by Penny Simpkins - seriously we can tell when partners read this book. They are more comfortable in the birth room and some even become very doula-ish. You're welcome!

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin - Full of birth stories and a very countercultural approach to birth, this is a captivating read. Our favorite recommendation for 1st time moms to help increase confidence and reduce stress. This book is written by Tennessee midwife Ina May Gaskin who runs a birth center called The Farm in an intentional living community. Pro tip: read this while eating granola and wearing knitted socks or birkenstocks.

Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz - so many books talk about the physical aspects of preparing for labor, but Birthing From Within also discusses the emotional transitions. Birthing Form Within helps you explore your "tigers" or fears going into labor and more importantly parenthood. Be ready to dig deep. PS - there are art and journalling projects involved...we challenge our right brained parents to step outside their comfort zone and break out the crayons. Also, Birthing From Within is a childbirth education method - several classes are taught in San Diego.

nutrition in pregnancy

Real Food for Gestational Diabetes by Lily Nicols. While this book is a must have for women with gestational diabetes, this is also an amazing resource for just eating healthy in pregnancy - and life! Must of us could benefit from reducing sugar and simple carbs. Most midwives and doulas agree that women grow appropriately sized babies for their bodies. However, poor nutrition with excess carbs and sugar regardless of a gestational diabetes diagnosis can throw that off. Eat well mamas!

PC: Organic Bebe Photography

PC: Organic Bebe Photography

Newborn Care:

The Baby Book by Dr. Sears. This is the BABY ENCYCLOPEDIA. It's a thick book full of knowledge to help you feel more confident taking care of your little one. As a new doula, I used to refer to this book all the time and would carry it my doula bag. How much weight does a newborn gain each day/week? What color should my baby poop be? It's all in there. Dr. William Sears (pediatrician) and his wife Martha Sears (registered nurse) wrote this book after parenting 8 kiddos. The revised edition is authored alongside 2 of their sons who became pediatricians Dr. Robert and Dr. Jim. Pretty fantastic team.  

The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears - the vaccine issue can be very polarized. The feedback we have had from clients who read this book is that they felt it was a helpful resource for them to make their own choices based on their family's risk factors and philosophies. 


The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Jack Newman. You will have breastfeeding questions- Jack Newman has answers. Very easy to read guide to get more info on common (and even the less common!) breastfeeding concerns.  

The Womanly Art to Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessenger. Comprehensive information, but easy to read. This is Rachael Oeffner’s (our IBCLC) top-pick. “It’s no secret that breastfeeding is the normal, healthy way to nourish and nurture your baby. Dedicated to supporting nursing and expectant mothers, the internationally respected La Leche League has set the standard for educating and empowering mothers in this natural art for generations.” - Diane Wiessenger

Postpartum Mood Disorders:

This Isn't What I Expected by Karen R. Kleiman. While for most parents parenthood brings some unexpected turns, this is especially true for parents experiencing postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD). At least 1 in 8 parents (moms, dads or partners) struggle with depression or anxiety. Whether it’s you or a loved one most, of us will be effected by PMADs and benefit from this information. This reassuring guide helps to:

Identify the symptoms of postpartum depression and distinguish it from "baby blues"
Deal with panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive urges, and stress overload
Break the cycle of shame and negative thoughts
Mobilize support from your husband or partner, family, and friends
Seek and evaluate treatment options
Cope with the disappointment and loss of self-esteem

Happy reading! Tell us - what was your favorite book to prepare for birth and postpartum life?

a family affair - children at birth



Deciding who to have in your birth space is such a special and important decision. Who do you envision with you as you labor and birth? If you are considering having your older child(ren) at your birth this post is for you! We are excited to share some tips we've learned during our experience as doulas and midwives supporting birth as a family.

Tiffany, a mom who had her 4.5 year old son and 6.5 year old daughter present for her home birth spoke to us about her choice:

"Honestly, I feel that if anyone wants to play a small role in changing what society has told us birth should look like, have your kids in the room. It normals natural birth and lifts the taboo that surrounds home birth. Plus, it's one of the most amazing moments in your life! Why wouldn't you want to share it with them. Having them outside really only makes them more anxious and sends the message that there is something to hide. Besides, it shows how tough mom really truly is. Don't mess with me!"

Tiffany's favorite memory of having her kids at her births was her kindergarten daughter exclaiming. "Mom! I can see her head! She has a lot of hair! Will she have teeth?!" 

If you are considering having your toddler or big kids with you during your birth here are some of our best tips! 



1. Take your kid(s) to at least a few of your prenatal appointments (consider asking for the option to have some in-home prenatal visits if you're having a home birth). Let them get more familiar with your care provider. Talk to them about what's happening - that your growing belly is home to their little sibling, that you’re listening to their brother or sister’s heartbeat. Listen to the big kids heart beat next. Help them make the connections. Keep them involved hands-on. This prepares them not only for birth, but helps them build a more tangible relationship with their sibling. They are never to young! 

2. Watch (prescreened) birth videos and make birth noises together. I think one of the biggest concerns parents have is that their children may be frightened of birth. That hasn't been my experience, but preparing kids for the noises of birth can help guide their expectations. Really, most kid's have no expectations of birth unlike us adults. For them it's normal unless you tell them otherwise.   

How to: "Moo" together! A really deep cow "Mooooo" is a silly way to practice. Talk to kids about how making noises helps mom feel better and is a normal.

Tiffany remembers " I remember looking over at Taylor who was 4.5years old, completely passed out asleep. I figured I must be doing this whole birth thing right because he clearly wasn't scared or stressed out at ALL!"

3. Designate a person for the kids for the day of. This is a must. No one wants to be laboring in their birth tub and also have a little person in their face demanding their afternoon cheddar bunnies. This designated grown up may or may not be in the room to witness the birth, and is not the birthing person's support person. Their sole responsibility is to take care of the older siblings. 

4. Have fun activities prepared - most often children go in and out of the birth space. Whether you are planning a home birth or a hospital birth, it's a good idea to pack a little bag of new or favorite activity books and toys. 

5. Think about your kid's personality and general approach to life. You know your child better than anyone else. Does he or she take a pretty cautious approach to new experiences? Or are they excited to learn new things and try new things? Do you have a nurturing kiddo who would relish the opportunity to participate? Or the kid who cries when you get your blood pressure taken? There’s no right or wrong. There are many adults who would love to see a baby being born…and probably just as many who wouldn’t! It’s okay!

6. Know yourself and be flexible. There's a huge emotional aspect of giving birth. Often we see that labor really "kicks into gear" when older kids are asleep or are taken care of. I've also seen the birth tub surrounded by adorable older siblings (some reminiscing about the other births they seen).

There's no way to predict exactly what you or your little ones will need while you are in labor. Just take that off your plate. You cannot plan all the details. Deep breath...Toddlers are unpredictable. It's okay to not KNOW.

Create a plan if you want your older children to be at your birth and then let the chips fall where they may. If you follow these tips (including having a designated person for your older child), you and your birth team should be able to adapt and accommodate to your needs and your child's in the moment. 

Did you have your older kids at your birth? Tell us how it went! What tips would you give other moms? 


I’ve never seen a big brother fall in love so quickly. He was a bit sleepy and crying during the labor, but as soon as he saw his baby brother, it was love at first sight. PC:

I’ve never seen a big brother fall in love so quickly. He was a bit sleepy and crying during the labor, but as soon as he saw his baby brother, it was love at first sight. PC:

Exciting News!

Hi there! Welcome to the Night & Day blog. It’s a brand new adventure for us prompted by some really big and exciting happenings we wanted to share! You may have noticed we are no longer Night & Day Doula. We are now simply Night & Day - because we are offering more than doula care. I’m happy to announce that I’m a licensed midwife and my sister is a certified lactation educator on her way to becoming a lactation consultant. This has been a dream in the works for many years, and we are over the moon!

A little about our us - I’ve been a doula since 2008 providing San Diego families with solo doula care for most of that time. I loved it! I love the connection you create with moms and their partners during the pregnancy. It’s so SO special to have the honor of being there during such beautiful, raw, and intense moments of transition. Being a birth worker is my dream job.

With such a privilege comes along with it a lot of responsibility. Parents deserve exceptional care during this time, and they are trusting that their doula will be there for them.  I would think as I sniffled in bed with a cold “what if I get called in today? I hope I don’t miss the birth!” I RARELY had to use a back-up, but of course occasionally it would happen. I started to long for a way to offer families more support, and also to allow myself a little freedom as well (a happy rested doula provides the best care).  

I'm happy to announce Night & Day now has a small team - we are 4 doulas, midwives and a lactation educator working together to give families more support than any one of us ever could on our own.

All 4 of us are DONA trained postpartum doulas. Along with postpartum care Brittany and I offer birth care for both homebirth and hospital births, and Rachael is a certified lactation educator.

- Sarah Burns, Owner of Night and Day San Diego