Books on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting

During the past nine months of my pregnancy, and even a while before that, I started reading lots of different books on all sorts of topics related to pregnancy, birth, and raising kids. I like to feel as prepared as I can for everything I do, and pregnancy and motherhood are no exception!

Most of the books I’ve read so far have been extremely informative and helpful, and I’d like to recommend and review them all in one go. Let me know what pregnancy/birth/parenting books you read and what you thought about them in the comments!

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting – I read this quite a while ago because it was a free audiobook available to me on the Libby app (which is an app you can use to connect to your public library to get free ebooks and audiobooks). I read it right after I got back from my Europe trip, and I’d just been to Paris and was interested in how the French parenting style differed from the Korean or American parenting styles. I really enjoyed the format of the book – part memoir, part parenting guide – because the author inserted her own experience as an expat living in France raising her own babies. Most of the wisdom she gathered was about newborns to one-year olds, including sleeping, eating, manners, play time, and more. She met with pediatricians and parents alike, and she tried out their advice for herself and found much of it useful. I’ll definitely keep in mind all the things I learned from this book when raising my kids, and I recommend it to anyone, even if you’re just curious about parenting in a different culture or country!

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know – I read this when I was newly pregnant, as it had been recommended to me many times. This was the book I chose instead of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and I’m glad I read this one, because it was very informative and focused on research and scientific studies. This book arms pregnant women with real, unbiased information about things like types of medication that’s safe to take when pregnant, foods to avoid (or not) when pregnant, and even induction, epidurals, etc. As someone who loves doing research and who likes to know the facts and statistics about topics like this, I was really glad to have found this book. I’d recommend this to anyone who is pregnant, especially in the early weeks/months when you’re bound to hear myths surrounding pregnancy that have long been busted. (The author also has a book called Cribsheet with statistics on caring for newborns, which I plan to read next!)

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – I think many moms-to-be get nervous or fearful of what giving birth will be like, and this book really helps remedy that. It was written by Ina May, a midwife who practiced in Tennessee for many, many years in a community she and her husband founded for women who wanted to experience a more natural environment or who wanted an alternative to giving birth in a hospital. The first half of the book is a collection of birth stories. For the most part, all of the babies were born naturally without needing any interventions (no inductions, epidurals, episiotomies, etc.). The birth stories serve to counteract the abundance of births we see on TV and in movies – a woman lying on her back, screaming in pain. It was really nice to read about so many different types of labor and delivery, and it definitely calmed my nerves. The second part of the book focuses on how and why the women in the stories were able to give birth naturally. Ina May is regarded as an expert in birth by many and she is passionate about eliminating the fear surrounding birth. Even if you’re planning on having birth in a hospital, I’d recommend this book for the sheer fact that it illustrates how natural and normal birth is. Every aspect of birth is discussed, and it’s nice to see it from the perspective of someone who’s witnessed hundreds of uncomplicated natural births.

Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding – Ina May once again proves to be extremely knowledgable, this time on the subject of breastfeeding. While informative, this book also does a good job at calming any fears one might have about breastfeeding. She goes through all the potential problems one might have establishing breastfeeding, and she also reassures readers that almost anything is possible if one is determined and armed with the right know-how. This book covers many many things and even if you’re unsure you want to give breastfeeding a try, I’d recommend reading it. I haven’t been able to put any of this book to use yet, but I’m sure what I learned from it will come in handy very soon!

Babies are not Pizzas: They’re Born, Not Delivered! – One of my favorite podcasts during pregnancy has been the Evidence-Based Birth Podcast with Rebecca Dekker. She’s a nurse with three kids and her birth experience, along with her medical background, led her to creating a website for those seeking research findings on all things birth and pregnancy. Her podcast led me to this book, which was published recently, and I read it immediately. In this book, Dekker recounts her three birth stories – the first much different from the others. Her birth experience did not go as she expected, and afterwards, she realized that she had very little control or support during labor and delivery. She did lots of research and her nurse background gave her a lot of resources, and eventually she realized that hospitals in the U.S. don’t always practice evidence-based care – they do many things that goes against the evidence completely purely out of convenience for the doctors and staff. I really loved this book, and I’d recommend it to anyone in the medical field, as well as to any pregnant women and even to new moms.

Natural Hospital Birth (2nd Edition) – Since I’m planning on having a natural birth in a hospital, I was happy to find out about this book. It’s mostly for those who want a natural and/or unmedicated birth who still want to be in a hospital setting in case of an emergency, etc. The book talks a lot about finding supportive care providers, and it discusses what to do when your care provider pushes something (i.e. an epidural or induction) when you’re in labor and know that’s not what you want. I’m lucky because I’m giving birth in the presence of midwives and in a setting that is conducive to natural birth, but I found this book helpful nonetheless! The book covers topics like skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, birthing positions, breastfeeding, etc.

Knocked Up Abroad: Stories of pregnancy, birth, and raising a family in a foreign country – I started reading this but haven’t finished it yet, but it’s a collection of stories by women who experienced pregnancy and birth abroad. Each story is very different, and it’s interesting to read about other women who were pregnant in a foreign country. I look forward to continue reading this, as I started when I was newly pregnant, and I feel like I can relate more to the stories now that I’m in my last few weeks of pregnancy!

The Wonder Weeks – I just got this in the mail and have skimmed parts of it, because it’s mostly for once your baby has been born, but I love it so far. It’s a book on each week in a baby’s life up to week 20 – what to expect, what kind of developments the baby is going through, and stories from other parents during that stage. It was written by a team of experts in an effort to calm new parents’ fears and anxieties about all the crazy things that can happen during each week in a baby’s life. Mostly, it discusses the leaps a baby makes at certain points in time, what to expect, and how it can cause fussiness. I’m glad to have this (pretty thick) book in my arsenal as we are about to enter the newborn phase.

Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, 6th Edition: Birth to Age 5 – Similar to the book above, I got this as part of my baby registry, so I haven’t read much of it yet, but it’s a very jam-packed encyclopedia-type book written by pediatricians and experts in childcare on pretty much everything to do with babies and kids. It’s divided up into easy-to-sort-through categories and topics, including everything from common illnesses and behaviors to development and the use of technology around kids. When googling isn’t enough, I know I’ll turn to this book first when I have questions on babies and kids!

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