When I was pregnant with Oscar, I could quote full chapters of books to you. I was a non-stop reading machine, like never before or since. I could not get enough information. With Calvin, I became much more choosy with what I read because there was never enough time. But I still wanted a few books to read during pregnancy. I narrowed down the list to my top 5 resources on pregnancy, birth, and those early months of parenting a newborn.
Do you need all the books? Not really. You’re going to be a great mom with or without lots of extra reading material. But if you’re like me and really enjoy learning about the amazing process a woman’s body goes through and you love details, these books stand the test of time and will definitely give you tons of information!
5 Books to Read During Pregnancy
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1. The Big Book of Birth – Erica Lyon
I could start and finish this list with Erica. This book was so amazingly helpful to me that I not only read it twice when I was pregnant with Oscar, but I am re-reading it again now. Erica explains birth in such a way that I feel any woman – no matter how she decides to approach birth – would benefit.
In The Big Book of Birth, she talks about the actual physical process, gives coping tips and even tailors some advice to different birthing scenarios so no one is left feeling like they are “doing it wrong”. This is far and away the first book I always recommend to my pregnant friends.
2. Baby Catcher – Peggy Vincent
This book wasn’t so much about how to give birth, but it was a fascinating true story about a Midwife and how difficult it can be for people to choose anything other than a hospital birth. I consider myself to be a natural birth “dabbler”. I say that because while I prefer and hope to have an intervention free process, I am not willing to birth at home.
That said, I do think home birth should be an option and I found this book to be encouraging, infuriating and downright interesting. It’s a nice way to stay in that “baby” zone without feeling like you are just reading instructions all the time.
3. The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer – Tracy Hogg
This is a book about the first few weeks/months of newborn living. Now, I understand that people have different ideas about how to navigate these months. That’s cool. The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer is the book that worked for me and has continued to serve us well into toddlerhood. I will say that she is definitely in the “schedule” camp, so if that is not your thing, you might want to skip it.
We loved having a schedule and believe me, Oscar never went hungry! She also gives practical no-cry tips for teaching baby how to sleep on their own. Oscar has never cared much for sleeping in our bed with us so this was a huge help!
4. The Wonder Weeks
The Wonder Weeks was not in print when I had Oscar, but I followed The Wonder Weeks website religiously to keep track of the many MANY developmental changes that happen in baby’s first year. It was amazing to see how closely Oscar’s behavior matched with whatever corresponding week he was in at the time.
This is really a handbook for the first year of life. There will be days when you have NO idea who this baby is in front of you. Then you look at The Wonder Weeks and boom! You learn they are in a major growth milestone and everyone can breathe again. No, you are not crazy.
5. The Baby Book – Dr. Sears
It wouldn’t be fair to leave off the great Dr. Sears. The Baby Book is a comprehensive guide to the baby’s first 2 years. His philosophies are in stark contrast to Hogg’s, but I value a well-rounded approach to parenting and appreciated his years (and years) of experience. This is a great reference guide to keep on hand and I referred to it often.
You’ll notice that I left off breastfeeding in my list books to read during pregnancy. This is intentional because while I do believe there is value in being prepared, that aspect really wasn’t helpful for me. Some things are just better learned by doing and for me, breastfeeding was one of them.
Of course, breastfeeding is covered as a topic in most of the above books so you won’t be skipping it altogether. I would also recommend connecting with a local La Leche League and speaking with trusted friends about what worked well for them. In the end, however, it will be your journey.
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Updated from original post on February 2, 2011.