Wednesday, August 15, 2012

13 Books to Read While Pregnant

I just got the news that a friend of mine is pregnant!

She asked me for some books about pregnancy, motherhood, etc, and I realized I had too much to say to post in a facebook message, so I figured I'd post it here.

My general thoughts on reading parenting books during pregnancy:

Do it because it will make you feel like you are in control of something you have pretty much no control over.

Reading every baby book I could find and every product review on baby gear I could find, kept me from going insane.

This is because I'm a person who is a wee bit dependent on instant gratification, and having to wait for anything for a week, let alone nine months, makes me feel a bit like dying.

I read everything I could get my hands on, took copious notes (none of which I actually used since the baby was born), and all in all felt like I could write a thesis and get a masters degree on the subject by the time the last trimester came around.

This was my method of coping, because I am crazy.

Don't be this extreme.

I read so much that I could do a whole post on a bunch of pregnancy and childcare books I found unhelpful or idiotic. Instead, I'll try to be positive and write about the thirteen books that stood out to me.

Actual pregnancy books are my least favorite genre of baby books. They are too detailed, scary, and also kind of boring. I prefer books dealing with the baby once he or she is here.

Most of the information I wanted about the baby in utero or changes to my body I found on or

Of all the books I read, my favorite pregnancy book was The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash.

I love this book because it gave me all the information about what would happen to my body without going into the scary minutia. It also gave me an inkling of what my spouse would be feeling during this process, and had some cute cartoons that made it somewhat amusing.

These books about sleep, vaccines, feeding, and stimulating your baby have been useful to me:

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp

This book has great advice for calming newborn babies down when they are crying and extending the amount of sleep you can get at night.

He basically believes that there is a fourth trimester that babies experience outside the womb, and to make them feel secure we have to replicate what they experience in the womb through the 5 S's: swaddling, shushing, side/stomach position, swinging and shushing.

We found the swaddling and the swinging to be most helpful.

There is also a video version of the book which is great. My husband didn't read the book, but he watched the video and took it to heart, and was a swaddling, shushing machine during the first few months with the baby.

The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin

This book clears up any questions you might have about vaccinating your kids, and it dispels the misinformation Jenny McCarthy and other celebrities have perpetuated about links between autism and vaccines.

Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett

This book explains that unless your family is prone to food allergies, there is no reason to waste time and money feeding your baby pureed food at four months. The writers recommends waiting until your baby is six months, and then offering your baby the same foods you normally eat (minus the salt and sugar/no processed food and no nuts) and let them explore eating solids.

We have started BLW this month and are loving it, though nobody is loving it more than our dog, Kirby.
Kirby waiting for falling food.

It is fascinating watching our baby learn to use the pincer grip, bring the food to her mouth, taste things for the first time, and practice chewing on her own terms. So far her favorite things are slices of steak, chicken, bell peppers, and the crumbly yolks of hard boiled eggs. It is incredibly messy to feed her this way, but lots of fun.

Baby Signs by Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn

This book illustrates how sign language can help you communicate with your baby months before they are capable of expressing themselves verbally. Since most tantrums are caused by the inability to understand what your child needs, baby signing can eliminate a lot of frustration.

This book talks about using American Sign Language or easier modified signs with your child. We haven't started yet but my sister-in-law is having a great experience signing with her baby.

Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina

I loved this book. It gives a lot of great ideas for stimulating your baby's little noggin. My main take aways were to limit TV time until they are two, describe the things you see to your baby (a goal of 2100 words per hour...yikes!), that impulse control is an indicator of math skills in the future, that music teaches children empathy.

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

I should really dedicate an entire post to this book, which I can't say enough good things about. The author discusses the best type of toys for your child, limiting the amount of stuff that enters your house,  how to create an environment where play and exploration is allowed and honored, having emotional pressure valves throughout the day (like nap time, solitary time, quiet time, etc), and (in contrast with the brain rules book), increasing your chances of being heard by your child by talking less.

I wish there was a calm rational book about breastfeeding, but there just doesn't seem to be any. The subject is too polarizing, I suppose.

Whatever you do, don't read Rebekah Curtis' book Boob Hell. It is a memoir of her experience, which is great but she somehow manages to make it into one of the most asinine, offensive, judgmental, and narrow-minded books I've found on the subject.

Here's what I've learned from experience with breastfeeding:

  • Breastfeeding can really hurt some women, but for others it is the most natural thing in the world.
  • It takes a month or too of trying before you feel like you've got it figured out, and even then, for some women, it will still hurt.
  • Hsving the right feeding pillow really helps. I like the Breastfriend for the beginning and the Boppy for later on.
  • Buy all the nipple creams and soothies that you can to help alleviate the pain.
  • You can breastfeed as much or as little as you'd like, and supplement with formula as much or as little as you like. You can breast feed just in the morning and at night, or breastfeed during the day and let your partner take a night shift with a bottle. Don't let anyone bully you or tell you that it is selfish of you to do this. Formula is not poison, despite the lactivists attempts to brand it as such. You can't be a good mom if you are in constant pain and dreading holding/feeding your baby.

Give me a second to step down from my soapbox.

Alright, I'm down.

These books impart no real knowledge, but are just for fun:

Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay and  Naptime is the New Happy Hour  by Stephanie Wilder-Taylor

Wilder-Taylor's essays made me laugh out loud multiple times. "If you're holding your baby 24/7, that's not a baby, that's a tumor," is just one of many amusing one liners in her books.

Confessions of a Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler

I loved her essay on the trials and tribulations of the family dog when a new baby arrives, as well as all of the mommy confessions related anonymously at the beginning of each chapter.

When I found out I was having a girl, I read

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

This book is about the effects of the girlie girl culture on daughters. It made me think about how the media effects the way we see ourselves, and more importantly how our daughters see themselves.

Finally, here are some other books/memoirs about parenting I thought were interesting:

I have always been interested in the parenting choices prevalent in other cultures. This book is about an American raising her kids in France, and how it changes her expectations for her children.

Love her, or hate her, Amy Chua's hard-core methods for child rearing make an interesting read.

So now my friend is probably sorry she asked me anything. I hope this is helpful and not overwhelming.

What books have made a difference in your parenting?


MerMaidMa said...

WOW! Now I want to read all those books! And you're right about nursing and formula. Giving my baby formula a couple times of day has made me an overall happier mama. :)

Jayme said...

Yaaay! Thanks for reading. I know I can get a bit long winded.

I love your picture, by the way! Kisses to the little guy. :)