Are pregnancy books really useful? Pregnancy is an exciting time, both for the expecting mother and for her partner. Trying to discover as much information about your pregnancy and birth as possible can be difficult and intimidating, especially if it’s your first pregnancy. However, there are a number of truly excellent books to read for pregnancy that provide guidance for first-time parents on the subjects of pregnancy, birth and what comes next.
What can I get from advice books on pregnancy?
There is a lot of information out there about pregnancy, morning sickness, labor, delivery and first-time parenting. Some practitioners don’t always provide the best information. In some areas, prenatal care is limited. In others, doctors operate on theories that are vague. For example, in the area I live in, there are still doctors that tell pregnant women that drinking occasionally is fine. However, all of the information I have on the subject, including from the Center for Disease Control, suggests that since nobody knows how much is too much for a fetus, it is best not to drink at all. Finding the right information can be tricky and these pregnancy books might help. Expecting parents should know about nutrition, breast-feeding options, labor, delivery, options for pain management or natural childbirth, episiotomies and coping with a cranky newborn. How do you filter out the information overload? How do you figure out the right questions to ask your doctor so that your pregnancy is safe, healthy and special to you? Start by reading one of these pregnancy books.
Some book suggestions:
What To Expect When You’re Expecting: This book, written by Heidi Murkhoff and Sharon Mazel, has gone through many editions and has been in print since 1984 and is constantly being updated. They also have an informational website that allows mothers to track their pregnancies. This book details every facet of pregnancy month by month; from the good and miraculous to the slightly surprising and unexpected. The book discusses attempting to conceive, appropriate prenatal care and nutrition as well as changes that may take place in the mother. What To Expect When You’re Expecting also discusses how medical histories play a part in pregnancy, what kind of care, birth plan and medical practitioner may be right for you. In addition, the later editions discuss concerns that expectant mothers have, from hot tubs to cell phones and family pets. While some may ridicule a pregnant woman for wondering if her cell phone is bad for the baby, or if the fertilizer in her garden is unhealthy or if she can drink a cup of coffee in the morning, these are all legitimate concerns that deserve a good answer.
Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: This book, written by Penny Simkin is a detailed overview, similar to What to Expect. Simkin handles all topics relating to pregnancy, with a focus on a family view (including the birth partner in the process.) Simkin also devotes two chapters to staying healthy and in good shape during pregnancy, and appropriate nutrition; both of which are concerns for many women. She also highlights possible complications and the pros and cons of prenatal testing. Both of these pregnancy books are excellent guides to pregnancy and what comes after. Simkin, in particular, discusses planning for bringing the baby home and offers helpful suggestions for parents.
For most pregnant women, particularly first-time mothers, the part of pregnancy that concerns them most is the birth. What will they do? How will they handle it? What’s going to happen? The following books may offer some good advice for both the mother and for the baby’s father.
The Birth Partner: This book has been in print for approximately twenty years and deservedly so. The Birth Partner, also by Penny Simkin is one of those well-researched, easy to understand pregnancy books for expectant mothers, fathers, doulas or anyone involved in a birth. The book also details some pregnancy tips and suggestions for the partner of the pregnant woman, and how they can assist during labor. Perhaps one of the most useful guides in the book details the types of pain management offered to women in labor and the possible side effects. It also goes into deep detail on all aspects of childbirth so that if an emergency situation arises, all parties are already aware of potential risks, complications and actions that may be taken, and can act swiftly to help the mother and baby without having to get brand new information. Other topics covered include the debates over natural childbirth and breastfeeding, scheduled caesarean sections, and the controversy over VBAC: vaginal birth after C-Section. The Birth Partner also discusses comfort measures for a laboring mother and how a father, partner or doula can assist in the birth and be a part of this important event. I would highly recommend The Birth Partner for anyone who is pregnant, or who will be involved in a birth.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth: Anyone who is interested in natural childbirth, or midwife assistance should read this book. Ina May Gaskin is one of the foremost midwives in the United States, who has experience working internationally as well. Ina May is also the only midwife to have a birth maneuver named after her: the Gaskin Maneuver, to assist shoulder dystocia. (Shoulder dystocia occurs occasionally after the baby has crowned and the head has emerged, and the shoulders become stuck.) The first section of Ina May’s book is filled with stories from women who have used midwives and natural deliveries, detailing their experiences with childbirth. The second section, written by Ina May Gaskin, discusses her experience and her knowledge of the birth process. While Ina May advocates for natural childbirth, she can present a clear view of the experience which may be comforting and informative for a pregnant woman.
Pregnancy advice is intimidating, no doubt about that. It puts massive strain on a woman, both physically and mentally. Emotions fluctuate and there are number of fears and stresses that if unanswered, can be very difficult. Finding the right pregnancy books that will allow you to ask your physician the right questions is important to give good care for both you and your baby and will grant you peace of mind to enjoy your pregnancy.