So, my little sister is expecting her first baby…I know! So exciting! I was in her living room the other day and noticed a book for new dads. One of those "Everything for New Dads" type of things. And I commented on it, saying something like, "awww, how cute! He has a New Dad book!"
"Yeah, I’ve read it," she replied.
It sounded so familiar. When I was pregnant — especially with my first child — I absolutely devoured books on pregnancy, birth and parenting. My husband? Not so much. I know most of my friends reported the same phenomenon.
So it would seem to be a somewhat universal trend, this insatiable thirst for information during pregnancy. And there is no shortage of books out there designed to fill the niche. But wading through what’s good, bad or maybe just not right for you is usually a hit-and-miss affair. You run out and buy a book that your best girlfriend recommended only to find that it a) terrifies you or b) doesn’t resonate with your personal parenting philosophy. As an midwife-using home-birther, dedicated breastfeeder and attachment-parenting devotee, I ran across this a lot when reading most mainstream pregnancy, childbirth and parenting books.
And so, when my lil’ sis’ asked me what baby book I’d recommend, I thought I’d put together a little list of my fave reads for pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting.
Pregnancy And Birth: A Month-by-month Guide To Making The Best Decisions For You And Your Baby, by Teresa Pitman and Joyce Barrett MD
I loved that this book is written by Canadian authors, because it’s so hard to find a non-American book in this category. Easy to read, reassuring and written from the perspective that pregnancy and birth are normal, natural experiences that usually don’t need much tampering with, I found this to be a great reference. Co-author Teresa Pitman is a renowned Canadian parenting and breastfeeding expert, and for those who are on the more traditional side, the fact that the other author is an MD is reassuring.
This book was my absolute Bible during both of my pregnancies, but most especially during the first, when every single sensation was new. Social Anthropologist Kitzinger reminds us that health (including pregnancy and childbirth) is not a medical artifact, rather our health is influenced by many different factors like "economics, politics, the social system in which we live, conditions in the work-place, poisons in the environment, and personal relationships". Taking all this into account, Kitzinger contrasts views of pregnancy birth from around the world and throughout the social history of our species, and examines the current Western medical model, the influence it has on our view of pregnancy and birth, and what we can do to achieve the individual birth experience we each hope for.
I couldn’t have lived through the first few years of both my children’s lives without the Sears’ wise and gentle advice. In a world of parent-centred baby books geared at teaching your baby (at a very early age) how to fit into your routine and lifestyle, I found it so refreshing and reassuring to find a book that encourages us as parents to support our children’s individual needs – even if it means changing our old habits a little bit. One of my favourite positions is about babies who wake a lot at night – instead of calling it "night waking" or "sleep problems", the Sears’ (parents of seven children themselves) gently remind us that our job as parents doesn’t stop when the lights go out by calling it "night-time parenting".