My little lady is only 6 months old (today!), so I’m not too far along in this whole motherhood thing. I am no where near an expert. But I thought I’d make a post about my top books at this time in my life pertaining to childbirth and babies.
Let’s get a few things out of the way first. I’m an advocate for natural childbirth, breastfeeding, and attachment parenting so obviously my choices will lean that way. Everyone has their biases. The good news is — there are so many ways to birth and raise a child and many of them produce happy, healthy kids. Just because I think this is what is best for my family, doesn’t mean I think it is best for your family. I understand that. Nothing makes me roll my eyes more than these Mommy Wars I read on the internet. Internet forums of any kind, not just birth/babies, are dark dark dark places.
Side bar: In my experience, these “wars” only exist on the internet. I’ve never personally experienced someone shaming me for deciding to have a natural birth and no one has ever said anything negative to me about nursing in public. I’m sure this is not the case in every part of the U.S./world so I consider myself lucky. In turn, I’ve not turned my nose up at friends that have chosen to have epidurals or formula feed. It works for them and I’m much more interested in snuggling their baby and getting a good whiff of that baby smell — DIVINE — than their choices concerning their well-cared-for children. Will any of this even matter to people when their child is 10? 18? 25? No!
I will say, now, that “advocate” is a choice word for me. Natural birth and breastfeeding were the norm for a long loooooooooong time. Recently, they have become the minority. These things need to have advocates now so women know all their options. I’m choosing to write this down at the risk of sounding preachy. Some women become “preachy” about these things because it is no longer common knowledge in the United States and we need to be more comfortable sharing our stories to pass on this knowledge. It takes a village to raise a child. I also understand medical interventions are sometimes necessary and thank God we have them — the same goes for formula, what a great thing we have at our disposal! I do not care if a woman decides from the get-go that she’s not even going to try breastfeeding and wants to do formula right away, that is her choice and I would never ever want to take that from her.
I also hate that I felt the need to type all of that out. Everyone should be able to write whatever the hell they want on their own blogs. But this is the internet where people stumble on random things and if they don’t know you, it’s helpful to have a disclaimer. I truly don’t want to offend anyone.
NOW! Without further ado… BOOKS.
Let’s start from the very beginning. A very good place to start… Interested in becoming pregnant? Taking Charge of Your Fertility is a book that has been recommended over and over again. I have never personally read it because I have always felt very in tune with my body and have used the Fertility Awareness Method which has always worked for me as far as avoidance goes. And we didn’t have any problems the moment we decided to start a family. This is very TMI now, isn’t it? Whatever, I’m not writing down anything that I wouldn’t say to anyone that asked me. But, let’s move on.
1. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin - this book is the bomb dot com. I know MANY women that are pregnant right now and a lot have asked advice on what to read to prepare. The first thing I say is “read birth stories.” There are so many birth stories on the internet of every kind of birth under the sun. Just google it. Read them all. Even if you know you want pitocin and an epi. Even if you know you are going to have an unassisted home birth. You do not know what will happen when you go into labor and it’s nice to read a variety of experiences. If you read one horror story, try and read 10 more happy ones — keep in mind that people love to share things that went wrong so don’t let that freak you out, you’re more likely to have an amazing experience! So, in keeping with the “read birth stories” thing, this book has tons of birth stories. Half the book is comprised of birth stories alone. The other half has great information for how to achieve a successful natural birth, including information on when to know that you might need some help (vital!). I would recommend this to any woman, even those happily going the medical route, because it explains the birthing process so well and I think everyone should be informed about that. In addition, I loved Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May as well. She is the best.
2. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger – This is a La Leche League book. And I think it gets a little judgey and really preachy about breastfeeding. I rolled my eyes a lot. BUT, it has so much good information and no one can deny that breast IS best. Breastfeeding is HARD and if you want to be successful you will have to be informed. Women used to learn from seeing their mothers and aunts and friends nurse their babies since it was the norm. This is not common practice anymore and if you breastfeed longer than the first few weeks you will be in the minority. Because we do not see it commonplace anymore, you need to research and seek help. (If you know you are going to formula feed, skip this book and opt to research all the ingredients in the different formulas available – or research how to make your own!) There is a rumor that is going around that says “if breastfeeding hurts, you’re not doing it right.” And this is false. Breastfeeding hurts at first. If you are in excruciating pain, then something IS wrong, but if you are in a little pain, you’ll have to power through the first week (for me, something clicked after the one week mark and it got so much easier) and seek help from nurses or lactation consultants. In order to be successful at breastfeeding you will need tools like this book and a supportive environment. And let it be said, some women try everything under the sun to make breastfeeding work and, sadly, it’s just not in the cards… once again, it’s awesome we have formula so readily available. I’m a big fan of people feeding their baby, however that food gets in — there are pros and cons to both formula feeding and breastfeeding. :)
3. The Baby Book by Dr. Sears – this is the Baby Bible as far as I’m concerned. I’ve already stated that I’m an attachment parenting advocate so keep that in mind. But this book is so comprehensive and such a great resource for every single thing that will happen to your baby from pregnancy to toddlerhood. It has tips and tricks for every stage and I’m so thankful it’s in my arsenal at the ready.
4. Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron – the previous book is the Baby Bible, but this is the Baby FOOD Bible. This book is everything you need to know about starting solids for your baby. I was toying with the idea of Baby Led Weaning as opposed to making our own baby food and what we are actually doing is kind of a hybrid. Letting L experiment with some foods on her own but mostly I am making her food. It’s working for us so far. This book covers first foods, when to introduce certain foods, how to make them, food schedules, just everything in general. It’s awesome and unless you are hardcore Baby Led Weaning, I would get this book.
5. Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand – If there were one book that I would say every parent absolutely positively NEEDS, this is the book. This book is the best resource for any kind of ailment or illness that may arise. It is easy to navigate and it breaks down everything symptom by symptom, letting you know how to properly proceed. It also breaks down each ailment/illness by homeopathy, supplements, acupressure, and conventional treatment. This is great for someone like me that swings towards the crunchy side of life. Modern medicine is often over used, but, like all things, there is a time and a place for it. If you feel comfortable trying some natural remedies first, this will break it down for you but will also tell you how to treat it conventionally so you can be completely informed. I love this. I try and research all points of view before making a decision and I love that this book does it for me — one stop shop. Thankfully, L has not gotten sick yet, but I know that there will come a time when we need this and I’m happy it’s in my library.