I love to read. From novels to memoirs, mysteries to classics, I enjoy a wide range of literature. So I suppose it makes sense that when I was pregnant I immersed myself in every book, magazine, article, or blog I came across (or sought out). Books about my growing baby and changing body, birthing methods, breastfeeding manuals, infant care guides, child rearing theories, suggestions for a happy post-baby marriage…it was endless. And got exhausting. Especially since I stopped reading anything unrelated to having a baby (if only I had known how little time I would have to read for pleasure in the months following my daughter’s birth…). Nearly everything I came across sounded great, until I picked up my next selection, which undoubtedly contradicted the former’s school of thought in some way.
I felt overwhelmed at times, but more determined than anything. I wanted to find the “right” answer and have a plan in place for when we brought Bebe home. That’s the problem with being a “Type A” personality-wanting to be perfectly prepared and in control, even when that’s not possible. “Do you think this sounds like us?”, I would ask my husband. “Or maybe we should do this. Would this be better for us?” He would always reply with some variation of, “That sounds good, but we’ll just have to wait and see when she gets here”, to which I would respond something like, “Yes, of course. But we’ll plan on doing this”, with conviction in my voice.
If you are a parent, you can stop laughing now.
The truth is once we had our baby and got her home two things happened that I hadn’t anticipated. First, we were so in love with our new addition we cared very little about what any book said to do in those early days. And second, in the beginning we were just in survival mode. Do. Whatever. It. Takes. Whatever it takes to get some sleep. Whatever it takes to make her stop crying. Whatever it takes to find time to eat. Whatever it takes to get her to nurse.
Despite being forced out of my comfort zone and having to relinquish control the second I became a mom, there are some books that I am glad to have read and referred to often during and/or after my pregnancy.
The following books were most helpful to me during pregnancy, or immediately afterwards, so they are my top picks to read when you’re expecting.
1. The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Dr. Harvey Karp
The 5 S’s seriously saved us. Karp’s techniques seem like common sense now because doing them became second nature. Knowing a few specific things to soothe Madeline from the beginning really built our confidence as parents.
2. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, by Tracy Hogg
This book was most helpful for establishing a routine. We didn’t set a schedule early on, but following a pattern of eat, play, sleep from the beginning allowed me to feel like I knew what to do next. Also, I really like Hogg’s suggestion to start as you mean to go on. Unfortunately we didn’t do that with everything we should have, but some challenges are to be expected.
3. The Mommy Docs, by Drs. Yvonne Bohn; Allison Hill, and Alane Park
This book covers all things pregnancy. The doctors not only deliver babies, they have their own children as well, so I appreciate the personal experiences they share throughout the reference guide.
These are the books I have found most valuable to read since becoming a mom:
1. A First Guide to Baby Signing
When I bought this book I wasn’t sure if we would actually use it with Madeline, but after looking through it I decided to try the beginner signs (milk, eat, drink, more, all done) starting at around three months. The reason I highly recommend it now is because she started doing the sign for milk this week (which we do more often than any other sign), and it is awesome and amazing!
2. Brain Rules for Baby, by John Medina
This guide to raising a happy child (from zero-five) is a fascinating read. Medina writes a lot about brain development and how children best learn in a way that keeps you interested page after page. I will definitely be referring back to this book often as Bebe grows.
3. What to Expect the First Year
Everyone knows about What to Expect When You’re Expecting-it’s practically become the pregnancy bible. However, I had not heard of it’s first year follow-up until it was given to me. Now I look at it monthly to see what milestones are on the horizon.
No book can provide all the answers, mainly because there is no single approach that suits everyone. While all of my reading did make me feel informed, I know now that finding the right way to do things doesn’t come from any one source. What’s best for you and your family comes from trying things and succeeding, making other attempts and failing, and gaining experience. In between if you can find time to consult a book or two, it won’t hurt. As long as you remember above all to trust yourself.
What books helped you most during your pregnancy, or in the early days as a new mom? What books should I add to my reading list now that my little bit is six months old?