Walk into any bookstore, scour the shelves in the prenatal/childbirth section, and be both amazed and terrified at the magnitude of books offered for expectant parents to consume. To save you time and money, we’ve hand-selected our six favorite books to read during pregnancy, which cover everything from getting pregnant to soothing a fussy baby. Upon completion of each book, you’ll close the back cover feeling informed, empowered and prepared for motherhood.
This 500+ page guide book of the pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and newborn stages, expertly written by a team of medical experts from the renowned Mayo Clinic, offers non-biased advice on everything from spotting and pre-natal sex to preparing for labor and post-partum work decisions. Written in the voice of a wise friend, this book contains many valuable features, including: a 40-week pregnancy calendar, week-by-week updates on baby’s growth, month-by-month physical changes for mom, colored pictures, a decision making chart, and a symptoms guide. Although recommended for all moms, first-time moms will especially appreciate this comprehensive pregnancy and parenting handbook.
Armin Brott—parenting expert, author and talk show host—presents an honest look at pregnancy from the perspective of an expectant father. He touches on everything from overcoming infertility and taking childbirth classes, to adopting a baby and becoming the father that you want to be, while being both reassuring and funny. The 350+ pages of this modern man’s guide to pregnancy feature expert advice from obstetricians, childbirth instructors, psychologists and sociologists, which leaves expectant fathers feeling more knowledgeable about, and more prepared for, the emotional, financial and physical changes that will occur during their partner’s pregnancy.
A 20-year veteran of the labor and delivery ward, Sarah McMoyler, RN, has crafted an easy-to-follow guide for expectant parents, especially first timers, who are having a planned hospital delivery. Within the pages of this modern book, McMoyler offers practical, realistic advice for moms, including the importance of labor position changes, vocalization and partner support (both during and after childbirth). Her goal is to prepare readers for their upcoming, unpredictable labor and delivery experience, while encouraging them to be flexible with their birth plans and open-minded with their health care providers. The Best Birth takes you through various delivery scenarios, while reiterating the fact that “any birth after which the mother and child are healthy is a success.”
Harvey Karp, MD., a successful California pediatrician and assistant professor at the School of Medicine, UCLA, has combined research, ancient wisdom and experience to craft this easy-to-read guide on remedying colic. Dubbed “perhaps the most important parenting book of the decade,” The Happiest Baby on the Block delves deep into the following four principles that Dr. Karp developed to soothe baby’s senses and improve sleep: the missing fourth trimester, the calming reflex, the 5 “S’s” (swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging and sucking), and the cuddle cure. While infant colic syndrome typically presents itself during the first three months of baby’s life, these tactics can be applied past the “fourth trimester” to aid in calming baby. The Happiest Toddler on the Block, also by Dr. Karp, is a great follow-up book for parents of children ages one- to four-years-old.
Christopher Gavigan, Former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, which is the leading national non-profit devoted to protecting children from dangerous environmental exposures, has written a book that empowers readers to “clean up” their daily lives, starting with the smallest of changes. Gavigan consulted over 40 experts, including doctors, environmental scientists, public-health experts like Dr. Harvey Karp, and even celebrity parents like Sheryl Crow and Tom Hanks, to offer a comprehensive approach on greening the home, greening your nutrition, and most importantly greening your pregnancy by switching to natural beauty products and setting up a nontoxic nursery. Readers will also get a 27-page buyers guide, packed with resources to aid in the “going green” process.
Ina May Gaskin, a founding member and former president of the Midwives’ Alliance of North America, gives a comprehensive overview of the practice of natural childbirth in this guide book. Focusing on the midwifery model of care, Gaskin discusses the importance of the mind-body connection of childbirth to empower women in their natural abilities to give birth. The first half of the book is filled with personal narratives shared by former clients, whose stories Gaskin hopes will ease the worries and fears will-be expectant mothers may have. In the second half, Gaskin delivers practical advice on topics such as avoiding medical intervention that may be unnecessary. In this combination, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth offers an alternative view to childbirth practices and is a good read for both expectant moms and expectant dads.
Take your time getting through this list of must read books, so that the information doesn’t overwhelm you, and consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.