No matter what type of delivery you are planning for, a little preparation goes a long way. I consider pregnancy a time of training – not just for the physical demands, but also the mental and emotional challenges that accompany it. The following are must reads for any soon-to-be mother and their partners:
Best Books for Pregnancy
Nurture by Erica Chidi
Comprehensive and judgment-free, Nurture is for modern mothers-to-be and their partners who want a more integrative approach to pregnancy and birth. This book includes dozens of important topics that every modern mom needs to know, such as fetal development, making choices for a hospital, home or birth center birth, the basics of breastfeeding, tips on what to expect postpartum, and more.
Award-winning economist Emily Oster evaluates the data behind accepted rules of pregnancy, and discovers that most are often misguided and some are just flat-out wrong. She debunks myths and explains everything from the real effects of caffeine to the surprising dangers of gardening so that Moms-to-be have a resource that empowers them to make their own right choices. Expecting Better is the book for every pregnant woman who wants to enjoy a healthy and relaxed pregnancy
Bumpin’ will radically transform your pregnancy journey to one of confidence and optimism. With over a decade of experience in women’s healthcare, Leslie Schrock distills cutting-edge research into a comprehensive pregnancy guide—from conception through the newborn months. Based on the latest clinical evidence and practical advice from top experts, Bumpin’ enables you to make the best decisions for your unique family. Bumpin’ also takes you all the way through the postpartum period as taking your baby home and recovering brings unexpected physical, mental, and life changes that are often overlooked for you and your partner.
Why Did No One Tell Me This?: The Doulas’ (Honest) Guide for Expectant Parents by Natalia Hailes and Ash Spivak
Doulas and reproductive health experts Natalia Hailes and Ash Spivak answer questions for today’s wellness-focused, intersectional parents-to-be. Drawing on years of experience in their birth doula practice, Natalia and Ash guide readers through the entire process, from the earliest stages of pregnancy to postpartum. Bite-sized pieces of advice are interspersed with vibrant illustrations to break down the doubts and fears that often surround childbirth. By addressing common fears, incorporating regular tips for partners, and providing information on a wide array of birth and parents styles, this unique and inclusive guide is the perfect tool for empowering a new generation of parents.
The Couples’ Pregnancy Guide: How to Navigate Pregnancy and Childbirth as a Team by D’Anthony Ward and Rachel Ward
In this pregnancy workbook couples can tackle everything that needs to get done if they work together as a team, all while setting the foundation for a strong partnership that carries them through the next stage as first-time parents. The Couples’ Pregnancy Guide offers supportive advice, strategies, and checklists couples need to create a plan that works for their unique relationship. There’s no script for how things will go in pregnancy, but you can get through it with confidence and optimism when you do it together.
Best Books for Delivery
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May
Great for those looking for an unmedicated birth, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth takes the fear out of childbirth by restoring women’s faith in their own power to give birth with more ease, less pain, and less medical intervention. Based on the female-centered Midwifery Model of Care, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth gives expectant mothers comprehensive information on everything from the all-important mind-body connection to how to give birth without technological intervention. Filled with inspiring birth stories and practical advice, this is an invaluable resource to prepare for birth.
Natural Hospital Birth by Cynthia Gabriel
Many mothers-to-be find themselves torn between choosing childbirth with minimal medical intervention, and the peace of mind offered by instant access to life-saving technology that a hospital can provide. Cynthia Gabriel, a doula who has attended hundreds of births and who advises hospitals on how to facilitate low-intervention childbirths, knows that new moms can have both. In Natural Hospital Birth, Gabriel gives moms, as well as partners and even medical personnel, concise and reassuring guidance on how to have as natural a birth as possible in a hospital setting. Find it here.
Caesarean Birth by Leigh East
Caesareans are a possible outcome of any birth. Unfortunately, many birth books give very little information about caesareans, leaving women unprepared for this mode of birth. Being prepared can significantly improve your chances of viewing a caesarean birth positively. This book has the facts and lots of ideas to help you prepare and recover. Covering every aspect of caesareans, this book will help you to make confident, informed decisions about your birth.
An inclusive, non-judgmental, and empowering guide to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum life that puts mothers first. In Birth Without Fear, January Harshe–founder of the global online community Birth Without Fear–delivers an honest, positive, and passionate message of empowerment surrounding everything that involves having a baby. Birth Without Fear shows moms, dads, partners, and families how to choose the best provider for them, how to trust in themselves and the birth process, and how to seek the necessary help after the baby has arrived. In addition, it will educate them about their rights–and how to use their voice to exercise them–as well as how to cope with the messy postpartum feelings many people aren’t willing to talk about.
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
For the partner who wishes to be truly helpful in the birthing room. Partners, friends, relatives, and doulas have relied on Penny Simkin’s guidance in caring for the new mother, from her last trimester through the early postpartum period. The Birth Partner remains the definitive guide to helping a woman through labor and birth, and the essential manual to have at hand during the event.
Best Books for Postpartum
The First Forty Days by Heng Ou
The First Forty Days revives the lost art of caring for the mother after birth. The first 40 days after the birth of a child offer an essential and fleeting period of rest and recovery for the new mother. As modern mothers are pushed to prematurely “bounce back” after delivering their babies and are often left alone to face the physical and emotional challenges of this new stage of their lives, The First Forty Days provides a lifeline—a source of connection, nourishment, and guidance. This book includes 60 simple recipes for healing soups, replenishing meals and snacks, and calming and lactation-boosting teas, all formulated to support the unique needs of the new mother. In addition to the recipes, this warm and encouraging guide offers advice on arranging a system of help during the postpartum period, navigating relationship challenges, and honoring the significance of pregnancy and birth.
The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson
A guide to help support women through postpartum healing on the physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual levels. The Fourth Trimester offers practical advice to support women through postpartum healing on the physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual levels – and provides women with a roadmap to this very important transition that can last from a few months to a few years.
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Penny Simkin
Parents love this book because it puts them in control; experts love it because it’s based on the latest medical research and recommendations from leading health organizations. Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn provides the information and guidance you need to make informed decisions about having a safe and satisfying pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period–decisions that reflect your preferences, priorities, and values.
When American journalist Pamela Druckerman had a baby in Paris, she didn’t aspire to become a “French parent.” But she noticed that French children slept through the night by two or three months old. They ate braised leeks. They played by themselves while their parents sipped coffee. And yet French kids were still boisterous, curious, and creative. Why? How? Druckerman set out to investigate—and wound up sparking a national debate on parenting. Researched over three years and written in her warm, funny voice, Bringing Up Bébé is deeply wise, charmingly told, and destined to become a classic resource for American parents.
Cribsheet by Emily Oster
Economics is the science of decision-making, and Cribsheet is a thinking parent’s guide to the chaos and frequent misinformation of the early years. Armed with the data, Oster finds that the conventional wisdom doesn’t always hold up. She debunks myths around breastfeeding, sleep training, potty training, language acquisition, and many other topics. She also shows parents how to think through questions like if and how to go back to work, how to think about toddler discipline, and how to have a relationship and parent at the same time.
Are you currently pregnant or planning to conceive? If so, make sure to download my FREE resource — How to Prepare Your Pelvic Floor & Core for Childbirth + 8 Must-Dos for C-Section and Vaginal Deliveries.
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