The Pregnancy Books I Read, Loved, and Didn't Care For
Here are some of the books that I read to prepare for pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond.
Nurture: This book was written by a well-respected doula named Erica Chidi Cohen. If you’re only going to get one book, choose this one. For one thing, I found all of the advice to be a wonderful balance between holistic theology while remaining supportive of conventional doctors/hospitals/medicine. The book truly covers everything you might need: an explanation of what your body is going through, nourishing recipes, product recommendations, how to prepare for your newborn, breastfeeding tips, and more. I have continuously referred to this book throughout all 9 months and plan to pack it in my hospital bag as well.
What to Expect: The classic. Not my favorite as I found it to be very strict in many recommendations. A good baseline of knowledge though.
Expecting Better: Loved this book for so many reasons. Emily Oster is an economist who looks at the data behind traditional recommendations and discusses what makes sense and what doesn’t. I will warn you, if you are someone who takes every word a doctor says to heart and does not believe there can be varying degrees of truth in the medical world, I would skip this one.
Cribsheet: A new book written by Emily, except this one is about what happens after the birth. Emily talks about everything from vaccinating to sleep-training to day care and beyond, but specifically, she breaks down the data. She tells you what studies certain recommendations are actually based on, and if they hold up in today’s day and age. Emily also discusses things like “mommy wars” on Facebook; with such an overwhelming amount of information at our fingertips, one google search can easily send a new parent down the rabbit hole. Some people say swaddling is the only way for a baby to sleep comfortably. Others say their babies can’t stand swaddling. One person says that you will cause emotional damage by letting your baby cry-it-out. Another says you’re a lunatic for co-sleeping. Point being: there are as many ways to be a parent as there are parents. Learn the data and decide what works best for your family and your baby.
Real Food for Pregnancy: You may be shocked to hear that I’ve enjoyed soft cheese, the occasional bite of sushi and even a few sips of wine during my pregnancy. I found the evidence against these foods to be lacking and felt comfortable using my best judgement. No, I didn’t eat sushi weekly or load up on deli meats daily. However, when I knew I was eating at high-quality restaurants, I was not worried about the .0001% chance that the feta was unpasteurized. Again, this book discusses a lot of the data behind conventional wisdom and why some of it is outdated. It was written by a registered dietician/nutritionist.
Bringing Up Bébé: A New Yorker moves to Paris and has a baby. She learns that French babies often sleep through the night by four months old and eat braised leeks at their first birthday party. How? Why? This book goes through many chapters and discusses fundamental, psychological differences between mothering in Europe vs. America. Moms are not martyrs in Paris, nor do they strive to be. They don’t believe that once you get pregnant or have a baby, your life is over. They aren’t afraid to leave their toddler with parents for 2 weeks to go on vacation. Pamela Druckman’s book is one that I really loved for its frank discussion on how much we value the sacrifices that motherhood “requires.”
What No One Tells You: A Guide To Your Emotions From Pregnancy to Motherhood: A brand new book that I just discovered. The perspective is for once on the mother, not just the baby. I skipped over the first few chapters and focused on emotions during the 3rd and “4th” trimesters. The author, Alexandra Sacks, breaks down many emotions that mothers commonly face, and the why behind them. For example she discusses how during the third trimester, women often don’t feel like themselves because none of their clothes fit. Now, on the outside, you may say, big deal! Buy some maternity clothes. Who cares? However, the truth is, for many of us clothing is more than just what we cover ourselves with. Clothing is how we express our creativity and when you take that away, it becomes a challenge and to some degree, a loss of oneself. I personally have felt this deeply, and can’t wait to be able to have my wardrobe back. It didn’t even cross my mind to correlate the lack of clothing to a loss of creativity until I read it, and then it clicked. I felt validated and heard. I felt understood.
Like A Mother: Overall, this book was too far off the beaten path for me. It was very, Portland meets A Hippie Commune meets 2019. I finished the book, but there were many points I wanted to stop at because it sort of depressed me. The author discusses a lot about giving birth in the U.S as a woman of color, and I was happy to learn her perspective and see how different the experience was for her. With that being said, not my favorite.
The Nursing Mother’s Companion: A great book if you want to learn about how to breastfeed. It’s pretty big, so I’ve mostly skimmed the chapters that are relevant for me, and I plan to use the book once the baby actually arrives.
Now tell me… did you have favorite books for pregnancy or the early years?
p.s: photo of the most adorable booties by anthropologie