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For every pregnant woman in the world, there’s at least one book, website or YouTube channel giving her advice. There are literally hundreds upon thousands of information resources out there on pregnancy, birth and parenting. I even have this one here myself!
With so much advice available, it’s very hard to figure out where to get the information you need and find sources that fit with your personal parenting style – even if you haven’t figured out what that is yet!
To help you navigate through the myriad of books available, I’ve put together a short list of some of the best pregnancy and parenting books available at the moment which I would recommend to any parent with a baby on the way.
“The Irish Better Birth Book” by Irish midwife and GentleBirth founder Tracy Donegan is essential reading for all mothers to be and anyone interested in birth in Ireland. As well as providing comprehensive guidance and advice on how to have a stress-free and enjoyable childbirth experience, it also provides a wealth of data on the policies and outcomes at maternity hospitals in Ireland, the rates of Caesareans, episiotomies and other interventions, the growth in home births, water births and other alternative childbirth options and a comprehensive directory of midwives, birth assistants and other childbirth practitioners in Ireland. This book helps mothers understand the critical decisions that they need to make in order to actively participate in their own healthcare.
One of the reasons I recommend this book to mums to be is the birth stories that feature through its pages. As well as the wisdom and advice of independent US midwife Ina May Gaskin, it also gives an insight into the emotional aspect of the birth process itself, written from the perspective of women sharing their personal journeys. If you are interested in natural birth, this book is a must-read for helping to maximise your chances of having a drug free birth as well as build your confidence in your body’s ability to give birth.
From Bump to Birth: Essential Tips and Advice for your Pregnancy and Labour
This ebook is co-written by Margaret Hanahoe, assistant director of midwifery in the National Maternity Hospital and founder of Ireland’s first DOMINO and homebirth programme.
It is jam-packed of holistic and sensible tips for preparing for labour, birth and easing pregnancy symptoms as well as covering the important psychological and emotional aspects. Margaret brings her years of midwifery experience to provide fantastic advice on complementary therapies, water immersion, visualisation, relaxation techniques, active birth techniques and positioning exercises. It also contains a number of lovely food recipes as well as lotions and solutions to common pregnancy and post natal conditions. The ebook includes links for further reading on the evidence behind the subjects covered.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is the bible of breastfeeding advice. While there is absolutely no substitute for breastfeeding peer support and getting out there and meeting other breastfeeding mums, this book is a fantastic resource for general breastfeeding advice as well as specific issues and tips. The Womanly Art is the kind of book that you can dip in and out of all the way through your breastfeeding journey.
The beauty of What Mothers Do is that there is not one word of advice in it! Instead, the author Naomi Stadlen reassures you that everything is okay and that these feelings and uncertainties that you’re experiencing as a new mum are perfectly normal and that you’re doing a great job. Rather than wait until the feelings of overwhelm set in, do yourself the biggest favour you could possibly do and pick up a copy of this book! It would also make a great gift for the new mum in your life.
Broken sleep and waking babies is one of the hardest things for new parents to come to terms with. Although there are many popular books on the market, authors offering gentle sleep solutions are few and far between. The No-Cry Sleep Solution offers great advice and comfort for parents who prefer to avoid any kind of “cry it out” or “controlling crying” method. This book is ideal for breastfeeding families and families who bed share regularly or just from time to time.
I’ve mentioned just 7 of many excellent books available but there are plenty of options there when you look beyond the more high profile mainstream books. One tip I’d like to offer when reading a pregnancy or parenting book is listen to your gut when thinking about acting on the advice that you read, particularly when it comes to sleep or breastfeeding advice. If something doesn’t feel right or sit well with you, trust yourself that you are the expert in your baby and only follow through on advice that works for you, your baby and your family.