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!
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?