I remember that I had waited till my first trimester was almost over before I announced to my friends(although I guess they suspected). I started off announcing to my friends who already had friends and then to my other friends. The first thing that most of them bought us were pregnancy books and I ended up with a deluge of books, which I did take time to read through. I was completing my MBA at the same time and had become proficient at reading books very fast and that of course helped. So here is my advice for you if you are looking for the best pregnancy books to guide you through your pregnancy.
First of all there is this question – what should you look for in a book – what is it that you expect the book to do for you?
I would like to borrow from the blog – Mara’s World and identify the most important characteristics of a good pregnancy book.
- It should give me all the information necessary to make sure that I have a healthy pregnancy.
- It should provide me all the information needed to prepare myself better for the childbirth.
- It should not be unecessarily alarmist and should invoke happy emotions.
- Finally it should empower me as a mother who has a unique opportunity to birth a human being. I should be able to make my choices and feel stronger and more confident about the process as result of reading the book.
So the books that I would recommend are not those that merely inform but also counsel.
Here are two books that do the job and are quite popular but were not my favourite essentially because they were missing the basic ingredient of empowerment.
- What to Expect When You Are Expecting – No doubt one of the most popular books out there and a natural choice for people who want the information about going through the regular cookie cutter process that majority of people seem to gravitate towards. This book doesn’t allow you to see the possibilities of scripting a birthing process unique to yourselves that can make it memorable for you. You end up being portrayed as a cog in a giant wheel and it emphasizes all the problems that could occur which ends up making you look at the process with dread and anxiety. I got it as a gift and used it only to find the answers to my questions. I had quite a few friends who only read this book and coincidentally or not did not really enjoy the process.
- Mayo Clinic Guide to Healthy Pregnancy – Another great informative book that includes month by month information, along with a very useful reference section. But the same issue that is quite predominant in “What to..” is also present with this book. You are not going to get any counsel or support and some of the decision guides are again dry and limited and there is no attempt to get deeper on an emotional level about any of these questions.
I will admit though that these books work well for folks who are looking for information only. The fact remains that books are a poor substitute to the social support system that is essential for you to get through the process. But in modern times, this kind of support system not readily available – most people are not necessarily close to family and there is no guarantee to having friends who are going through similar life stages. Many of my friends either already had kids or were nowhere close to having one. Nobody I knew ever had twins so there was no guidance available that I could use specific to my situation. Most of you will end up reading only one or two books and I want you to invest only in the ones that do little more than provide information.
If all you buy is one book then this is the one I recommend – it is comprehensive and provides all the various options without being biased towards any particular one. There is this one area where this one scores over the ones I already discussed – it does not view the whole pregnancy process as a cookie cutter process that a woman has to pass through, it allows you to assimilate the facts, consider the long term implications and then reflect on it to arrive at your final decision. It treats you as an empowered woman who has the ability to script a unique experience and also provides a balanced and reasonable picture of the entire pregnancy experience without ringing alarm bells as every point. It is quite difficult to convey the difference – all I can say is that you emerge knowledgeable and empowered as a result of this experience.
Few of us realize that the birthing process has been in place for a long long time – people have been giving birth since time immemorial and there is a lot of wisdom accumulated down the ages which are timeless. The process in place today might make you feel that it might have been impossible to give birth to a healthy baby before all this existed. Ina May shatters this illusion and regales us with wisdom from the ages on how to trust our bodies and minds to facilitate a healthy natural birthing experience without the need for technological intervention.
BEST BOOKS FOR PREGNANCY NUTRITION
There is plenty of material available in the web and I will recommend a few blogs that are really good. If you are interested in what you put into your body and want to consume the information through books here are my suggestions.
In Beautiful Babies, nutrition educator Kristen Michaelis draws from her research of healthy and fertile populations around the world and makes a case for nutrient rich foods you should be eating to facilitate pregnancy, then to ensure a health pregnancy and to ensure adequate nutrition for mother and baby during breastfeeding.
I was really torn on whether to recommend this one because it has some stuff that I found sketchy including their position against vaccinations. Quite frankly you have to read this carefully sifting for the insights which you won’t find anywhere including the information of toxicity and germs avoidance, exploration of vitamins and minerals needed through the process etc.
3. Another book I would recommend for the sheer joy and beauty of the experience is
BEST BOOKS FOR EXERCISE AND FITNESS
There are DVDs which I have recommended and should help you keep fit but there are a few books that I found useful as well
- The Pregnant Athlete: How to Stay in Your Best Shape Ever–Before, During, and After Pregnancy I love this book but have to warn you that this is only for folks who were regimental in their exercise regimen even prior to birth. The good thing is that this a collaboration between a triathlete/trainer also a mother, a fitness expert and an OB/GYN so the information is well rounded. If you are not a serious fitness fanatic – there is also some good advice about eating well etc.
- Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth, and Beyond
A pregnancy yoga book with step-by-step photos of classic yoga postures especially adapted for each trimester. Active Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally
If you are interested in natural birthing, then this is one I would recommend along with the Ina May book. The author Janet Balaskas leads the pregnant woman through yoga-based stretching exercises and massage practice, and describes the stages of labor and comfortable positions for each, at home or in a hospital.Balaskas has also included a chapter on water birth as well as postpartum exercises.
BEST BOOKS FOR FATHERS AND PARTNERS
As a dad if you are reading a book on this subject, what you are seeking to do is to understand the process, understand your partner’s physical, metal and emotional situation and needs. At the same time you are seeking assurance for your own situation and some advice on how to cope with your anxieties and loneliness and how to prepare yourselves for the impending milestone. This book provides all that and more and does so in a humorous and empathetic tone. Must read for dads – skip the other ones. Almost all books have some sections for dads added as an afterthought, but if you can buy this one for your husband he will be grateful and so will you.
This title is more accommodative of partners other than dads and is a great read for the mother as well. This is easy to skim using the summary and then to dive deep, reading slowly as you visualize the information and calibrate your responses based on the suggestions.
A great guide for dads with advice coated in dollops of humor. Very well reviewed in Amazon too.
BEST PREGNANCY HUMOR BOOKS
One of the things I always noticed this about a lot of women is that they take the whole pregnancy thing far too seriously – something that is a necessary evil to get the fruits of their labor(literally) – their beautiful children. But in order to have a healthy experience it is also important to be light hearted about this event in your life- having friends and family really helps but a few books can also do this trick. My top recommendations
- Belly Laughs, 10th anniversary edition: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth
- The Baby Owner’s Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips, and Advice on First-Year Maintenance
- Babies and Other Hazards of Sex
In addition to all this there were two books about parenting a baby(other parenting books relate to toddlers or older children that might be difficult to relate to at this stage) that really seemed worthwhile. It allows you to reflect on your parenting style and at least start thinking about it. Brain Rules gives you a great perspective of the conditions that enable the baby to develop.