Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Parenting Bookshelf--Pregnancy/Birth

For some women, it's shoes. For me, it's parenting books. I read every one I can get my hands on. Whether I agree with them or not, I find them fascinating. I didn't start out collecting them on purpose. The first couple of weeks after my eldest was born, I started worrying about breastfeeding. Was I making enough? Was I doing it right? I picked up a couple of books.

Then, after a horrendous experience with a child abuse manual (TTUAC), I stumbled across a Sears' Baby Book for 90% off (changing editions). I started getting more books on development and gentle discipline. When Joel had the bad reactions to vaccinations, I found several books on that topic. Once we decided to do a natural birth with Elena, I got several books on that.

By the time our fourth was here, I already had shelves full of books that have helped me tremendously. Like old friends, when I need advice, ideas, or reassurance that things are normal, I go back to many of my favorites.

Since there are too many to share in one post (I read a *lot*) I'm going to break it up by topic and share pregnancy/birth this time, breastfeeding another, gentle discipline, etc. Some will overlap, of course. There are no doubt many goods ones I've missed, but here is a list of some of the best:

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Hands down, my favorite. I grew up with a lot of horror stories surrounding birth, and it was amazing to read so many happy, peaceful birth stories. The section with her advice and techniques was practical and easy to remember.

Orgasmic Birth by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro
The title had me both skeptical and intrigued, but the actual book is very good. Again, positive stories and good advice.

Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding through Pregnancy and Beyond by Hilary Flower
When I became pregnant with Joel, Ariana was still nursing at least 8 times in 24 hours. I didn't want to wean her, but was hearing a lot of comments that suggested health risks, etc. This book is exceptionally well researched and gave me all the info I needed to nurse through pregnancy. I also appreciate the real-life stories. Nursing through pregnancy and tandeming can be emotionally and physically challenging, and she handled that with empathy, encouragement and no guilt trips.

There are several others that I read from libraries, etc, but don't actually own, either because I didn't have the money to purchase them at the time, or whatever.

Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. The hippy-lingo made me smile, and Ina May is excellent.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
Tons of research and info. Not as light as some of the others, but definitely worth the read!

The Pregnancy Book and The Birth Book by the Sears. The Sears books were my first introduction into parenting according to my heart. I was so anxious to do things the "right way" and they were the first voice to give me authoritative, researched-based permission to cosleep, to breastfeed as often and as long as my daughter wanted, to respond to her without suspicion.

There were many others whose specific titles I can't recall. Some fantastic ones were lent to me by my midwife on active birth, and a couple that are mentioned in my previous pregnancy/birth/homebirth posts.

There were also, of course, some not-so-great books. I *loved* The Girlfriend's Guide books by Vicki Iovine during my first pregnancy. It was entertaining and fit perfectly with my preconceptions. After more research, I was in an entirely different mindset, however.

I read one moronic book on easy labor that was essentially an entire book on getting an early epidural, blindly following any and all suggestions by any medical personnel and being as convenient as possible for the hospital system. There was no research or helpful info other than saying that you are not being a good little girl if you ask questions or do anything without the maximum level of intervention and profit to the hospital.

There were a couple of others that just distilled all the columns from mainstream parenting magazines and said, "Well, you can *try* for an unmedicated birth, buuuuuut, you probably won't make it. Still, it doesn't hurt to learn some techniques to use while you are waiting for the epidural. Eat right and exercise right during pregnancy, etc." Generic stuff. And of course, there are a few that emphasize all the possible birth defects and complications (except complications that result from routine interventions). The "What to Expect" type of book. After my first pregnancy, I just read the weekly development of the fetus stuff and skipped the rest.

All of the books contributed in different ways to each of my birth experiences. Especially in my last two births, I learned a lot from some wonderful authors.

Next post: your baby is here, now what? books. :)


Claire in Tasmania said...

I really need to get my copy of Ina May back b4 the woman who has it passes it on to the next mum and I lose track all together ;)

dulce de leche said...

LOL. I picked up several copies of used books for around a dollar each, and I try to use them for my loaner books, because I rarely see a book come back.