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Pregnancy Book Reviews-Top Ten

DSC_0029The belly button has popped! This was taken on yesterday (12/1/13), and I am officially a little over 34 weeks. Since baby could be here in the next 4-6 weeks, I’ve really begun thinking about birth and caring for a newborn! Up until now, I have been reading everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy, health, and how baby E. is developing. Before I put aside the stack of books on my nightstand and trade them in for new ones, I wanted to share most of the books I read & give my thoughts–in case there are any expecting mamas out there who can’t get enough information on pregnancy! I’ve hyper-linked all the numbered titles to Amazon.com in case you want to buy them.

1. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Picture 2If you are hoping to have an intervention free labor, GET THIS BOOK. After watching The Business of Being Born, I wanted to read more about natural (medication free) labor. Ina May is a pioneer in American midwifery. The book is inspiring, and helps to ease some of the fears I had about labor. Before being pregnant, I had my own visions that had been heavily influenced by the media. In my mind, it happened relatively fast and would be ridiculously painful, and I would be screaming. Being at my nephew’s birth (a long induction process) changed this view some, but this book still opened my eyes to what birth could be like. It inspired me to start thinking about the kind of labor story I want to create, the kind of birth story I hope to be able to write. It’s still a few weeks away, and I am not naive enough to believe that I can plan out my labor step by step, but I hope that the knowledge gleaned from this book will help me to have faith in my baby and have faith in my body and have faith in the process of labor–enough to do it without medication.

2. What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Picture 3Every expectant mother gets this, right? Though I’ve read plenty of reviews that say that this book is a waste of time and only will make a mom to be go crazy with worry, I found it helpful. By nature, I’m a worrier. I mean, I’m the kind of person who can read about medical conditions on WebMD and convince myself I have them. This book did not make me worry. It actually made me feel like the symptoms I was experiencing were normal. It sometimes made me worry that I wasn’t experiencing them, but my midwife happily addressed those questions for me. It’s a basic book, probably could be called being pregnant for dummies, but I think it’s a good essential to stock your shelf with if you’re planning on getting pregnant.

3. The Pregnancy Book

Picture 4Don’t let the cover throw you off. I know, the lady is wearing a jean jumper from the early 80s. But if you think about it, the process of being pregnant and labor hasn’t changed all that much since then. Or since ever. Medicine has changed, interventions have changed, how we chart growth and all that has changed, but the process of making and growing and birthing a child (naturally) has not changed.

This book was useful for me. Also addressed many of the questions that What to Expect When You’re Expecting did, but with Dr. Sears’ influence. It also takes you through your pregnancy month by month, and provides a more natural way of dealing with pregnancy-related discomforts and diet and diet and lifestyle changes while pregnant.

4. The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy

Picture 5 This is another don’t judge a book by it’s cover review. The cover and title made me think this would be a great guide that would address the best dietary and holistic lifestyle practices during pregnancy. It did, but it was also pretty religious.

I don’t really have a problem with prayer or God or religion, but it wasn’t what I was expecting when reading this book. Still, it was a good book to read to know which herbs were pregnancy safe, and take note of holistic and natural-minded practices to ease pregnancy discomforts.

I borrowed this from a friend, and I don’t know if I’d buy it, but definitely worth checking out from the library and keeping notes on what’s applicable to you.

5. Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives: A Holistic Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth

Picture 6If you are unfamiliar with Ayurveda and its focus on how our daily routines affect our health, then get this book. If nothing else, it really makes you think about building a bond with your baby before s/he gets here, and helps you to evaluate the life that you are living while you are pregnant. I may be biased because I love Ayurveda, but I  truly believe that the way we live our lives day in and day out affect our health. I also believe that our bodies and our minds are far more connected than we often realize or take the time to notice. The patterns that we create through our daily routine have powerful and long term effects on our health. This book will help you to think about the daily routines that you have & which you may want to adjust for your health and the health of your baby.

6. The Honest Life

Picture 7Even though I’m a sucker for cheesy dance movies (like Honey), I wasn’t sure what I’d think about a pregnancy/child-rearing book by Jessica Alba. I borrowed this from a friend, and I’m going to buy it. It’s full of helpful tips to detoxify your life. Not by maple-cayenne cleanses or juicing, but by knowing the chemicals that we are exposed to through the products that we use daily and avoiding them. I suppose you could just go to the Environmental Working Group Website to get this information, but it’s nice to have it all in one place, and the book is pretty and fun to read. Plus there are girly things like masks you can make from kitchen ingredients. I mean, moms need pampering too, right?

 

 

7. Orgasmic Birth

Picture 8This was a leap for me. Borrowed from a friend who is a doula, I wasn’t sure what I’d think of this book. It seemed pretty out there–at least judging from the title. But this is one I will probably begin to re-read as labor and delivery get closer.

I don’t know anyone who has had an orgasmic labor experience, but I think there are tips and techniques in this book that are worth noting. Since I really have no idea what to expect going into labor for the first time, I want as many tricks in my bag as possible to help me through the experience with as much presence as I can muster in the face of pain. Or maybe, as this book suggests, there will not be the pain I have been taught to expect.

Again, check it out from the library. Worth a read–or at least skim through it.

8. Birthing from Within

Picture 10 To be fair, I haven’t read all the way through this. It’s not just a read. I mean, I suppose you could just read it, but they have all these journaling activities to help you discover and delve deeper into the psychological aspects of labor. I plan on doing as many of the journal activities as I can over the next few weeks.

Will let you know how it goes–after delivery.

 

 

 

 

9. Your Vegetarian Pregnancy 

Picture 11Like I’ve said, the year prior to getting pregnant, I had gone vegan. I’ve been mostly vegetarian since middle school. I didn’t choose a vegetarian diet for health reasons or even to lose weight. I chose it because I have issues eating animals. When I eat meat, all I can think of is the animal, its body, its flesh that I’m chewing. It both makes me sad and grosses me out.

I knew it would be a challenge to get the recommended 75 grams of protein a day being vegan (especially not knowing a definitive answer on the safety of hemp protein). So I thought I’d buy this book and eat dairy and eggs again. Scrambled eggs were a life saver for me in early pregnancy.

Eventually though, I wanted meat. I was craving the protein. So, I sucked it up and bought some free range chicken and wild caught salmon every now and then. I forced myself to not think about the animal and to think about my baby. I laughed when a friend reminded me of the Friends episode where Pheobe is pregnant and dying for steak. Joey (I think?) agrees to give up meat while she’s pregnant so no more animals die.

*Everyone in my family eats meat–my parents, my siblings, my husband. If you eat meat, I’m not judging you or saying you shouldn’t eat it. I honestly think some people need it to be healthy. It’s just not for me, and I will go back to being vegan (and maybe eating eggs but not dairy) when I’m not pregnant anymore because I physically and mentally feel better when I eat that way.

**Also, if you are a meat eater, I highly recommend The Nourishing Traditions Book  of Baby and Childcare by Sally Fallon. Or check out the Weston Price website.

10. Husband-Coached Childbirth

Picture 12We also took the Bradley Method classes. If you live in the Denver area, and you are thinking about a medication free labor, TAKE THESE CLASSES. We both agreed that the 12 weeks of classes were well worth the time and money. Our teacher, Danielle Johns Preston did not teach by the book (or workbook that they give you), but she really helped open our eyes to all the common interventions given during labor. We assessed the benefits of them, the risks, the alternatives, and how to avoid them if we chose. We practiced labor and birthing positions. Over and over again. We received a wealth of information that was not just geared towards the mom to be. I strongly feel that I want my husband to be involved in the labor process. This is his child too.  Throughout this pregnancy, I’ve felt like I was experiencing some things alone. I’m sure A. is happy not to experience the discomforts of being pregnant, but I know he also envies the miracle of feeling the baby move within. This class, and the book, help to bring husbands closer into the picture and closer to the baby.

So there you have it. My top ten books for pregnancy. I’ve got about 5-10 I’m eyeing that address labor and newborn care. More on those at a later date. Sometime in the Spring–after baby is here and I’ve had some time to put the ideas into practice.

Also, starting in the third trimester, I’ve become extremely interested in reading birth stories. I’ll post links to some I’ve read and loved later, but I also wanted to open up a favor/question to readers…..Does anyone want to share their birth story? I will put my former English teacher skills to work and edit it for you and post it here. They can be anonymous if you like. Or if you have pictures to share and don’t mind me sharing your name/s, I’d love to give credit and post that here as well. I’ve been thinking it would be great to have a “community” for moms to share their experience and new moms to gain wisdom and comfort from those stories–no matter what kind of labor or birth you had. If you are interested, feel free to email me: keri.w.hanson@gmail.com

With Love from Colorado,

Keri

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