Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Books on motherhood and birth for preggos

Tuesday, Aug. 22:

Give a pregnant woman a book, and you mess with her mind for a week; teach a pregnant woman how to read, and you really screw her up for the lifetime of her baby.

Naw, really, 30-some weeks ago, I didn’t have a clue about pregnancy or birth or how to take care of a newborn baby. I mean, I was as far removed from motherhood as Osama bin Laden is from actually having a chance with Whitney Houston.

So I read all the magazines and books I could lay eyes on. (I should qualify that by saying mostly anything free -- magazines from my doctor’s office and books from the library.) Although I did buy a few. I said I’d share the books that were helpful to me, so here they are, in no order at all:

Hello, My Name Is Mommy: A Dysfunctional Girl’s Guide to Having and Loving (and Hopefully Not Screwing Up) a Baby by Sheri Lynch. This book is entertaining and informative while not pulling any punches. Sheri is frank about her awful childhood and how that made her afraid to raise a child herself -- so her words of encouragement for those who feel they couldn’t possibly be a good mother are words from experience. She dishes practical advice for working mothers and how to travel with infants. And she was a first-time mid-30s mom like myself. Stay away from her birth story, though, unless you like reading about impossible pain.

Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England and Rob Horowitz. This is a rather back-to-the-earth, New Agey, crunchy-granola kind of book, but a real eye-opener when it comes to how hospitals can take something natural like birth and make it a sanitized medical procedure devoid of meaning for the new parents. There are some activities included, which I didn’t do. This book is probably aimed for people who want to give birth at home or a birthing center rather than a hospital (like me), but I still enjoyed reading it.

Active Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally by Janet Balaskas. It makes all the sense in the world once you read this book and really look at human anatomy: giving birth in a more or less vertical position -- not flat on your back the way it seems most medical professionals prefer (because it’s easier for them) -- is better for the baby and the mother. Half of the book offers all the reasons to choose an active birth, and the other half offers yoga and birthing positions to practice in preparation for birth. The edition I got includes photos of women in dated outfits that, surprisingly, appear to be making a comeback.

The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy and The Girlfriends' Guide to Baby Gear by Vicki Iovine. Vicki’s books seemed like required reading for hip mamas when I read them. Several women recommended them to me. And they are really helpful and chock full of good ideas about dressing the baby, what to pack in your hospital bag, what nursery items are a waste of money and other good stuff. However, some of the references to pop culture are dated, making me wonder just how long ago she had a baby -- which led me to wonder just how relevant some of her stories are. (I hear a newer edition of the pregnancy guide is coming out next year.) Also, sometimes she tries so hard to be funny that I couldn’t tell when she was being serious. Still good to read, though.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau. This is a practical, hands-on newborn care manual. I checked it out from the library on a lark, having heard of the Baby Whisperer on TV, and found it really interesting. Tracy’s years as a baby nurse have led to her EASY (eat, activity, sleep, yourself) approach to putting a baby on a flexible schedule. There are some really good tips in here (says a person who doesn’t have a baby yet to try out the tips on).

There are other books I read (or at least skimmed) but which didn’t make an impression on me -- not enough to recommend them, anyway. And it’s possible I forgot a few that I read. (Hey, I was also trying to go through my pile of novels before the baby gets here!)

I also enjoyed my one copy of Lamaze magazine I picked up for free somewhere.

As for multimedia, I am enjoying the Hypbirth program and am still making my way through the DVD The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer.

Maybe some of these resources will help other expectant moms!

Update: Thanks for reminding me, Amber -- my friend Star loaned me On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam. It seems to go hand in hand with the Baby Whisperer's ideas. I really liked the first chapter, which encourages couples to maintain their relationship first and foremost because that helps the child (and keeps you sane), and which warns against certain "child-centric" parenting practices (which keeps you sane).


Blogger Amber said...

I loved "The Baby Whisperer" and "Baby Wise!"

5:22 PM  
Blogger Awesome Mom said...

Just a word to the wise. The babies do not actually read those books so they drive you nuts by not reaching all of their milestones when the books say they should. I threw out all the books that I had bought because they just made me crazy.

10:45 PM  
Blogger h&b said...

I read nothing, besides internet forums and tid-bits. I have no idea how you read all those without ZZzzZzzzzZZ ! ;)

I wouldn't change anything - but please, pack your own 4-ply softest softest papier de toilette for the hospital - they tend to buy sandpaper in bulk...

6:23 AM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

I'm totally going to check out your childbirth book recommendations. I'm starting to think about #2 and want to be more prepared for the birth next time. Thanks for the recommendations!

3:06 PM  
Blogger Damselfly said...

Awesome Mom and h&b, some of the books made me crazy or were boring, too! So I stopped reading them -- they're not on my list. And of course I'll take everything with a grain of salt, as they say. You can be the first to laugh when I have my first mommy meltdown.

And thanks for the papier de toilette tip, h&b.

Good luck on baby #2, Mommy off the Record!

5:17 PM  
Blogger TulipGirl said...

If breastfeeding is important to you, then get your breastfeeding/infant feeding info from a source other than The Baby Whisperer. The lactation consultants I know say it has a lousy chapter on breastfeeding. . .

And while routine is great, I've found that most babies fall into the type of rhythm *they* need by 2-4 months when you are watching their eating and sleeping cues.

You don't need to follow Babywise to keep a strong marriage relationship--and so much of the info in that book is medically and developmentally off. . . All that to say, it's one of those books that needs to be taken with a larger-than-normal grain of salt.

11:46 PM  
Blogger Damselfly said...

Hi, Tulipgirl, no worries. I didn't say I was looking to a baby book for relationship tips -- just that I liked what it has to say about keeping the relationship with your spouse really strong.


6:07 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

Just checking in for any pregnancy updates??!

5:51 PM  

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