As a first time mom, I wanted to be prepared. I went to my local bookstore and filled my cart with books about pregnancy and child development. There were lots of books that I read and skimmed through, however these are the top 5 pregnancy books I recommend for first time moms.
1. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
I was terrified of childbirth. Being a petite woman of 5’0″ and 110 pounds, I didn’t understand how I would be able to bring my baby to this world. This book helped me with the realization that my body is capable of birth and it gave me the courage I needed. After reading this book (and watching lots of births and all of Ina May’s lectures on Youtube), I felt empowered and comfortable with the idea of birth.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is written by Ina May Gaskin who has more than 30 years of Midwifery experience. The book is divided into two parts. The first part of the book is dedicated to positive birth stories. Ina May presents dozens of successful, ecstatic and delightful birth stories. The second part of the book dives into the processes of birth and what to expect.
Here are some of the chapter highlights:
- the powerful mind-body connection
- reducing the pain of labor without medication
- what happens during labor
- how to create a safe and comfortable environment to birth at home and in the hospital
- provides ways to increase your chances of having an unmedicated birth
2. The Birth Partner 4th edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and Other Labor Companions by Penny Simkin
This is a complete guide to childbirth for your birth partner. This book gave me a peace of mind because there is a helpful summary at the end of each chapter with a list of things to do at each stage of the labor process. I put sticky notes to the sections that I thought would be helpful for my husband to read prior to labor and reference while I was in labor. This is absolutely a must-read (or skim through) for the person that is attending your birth.
- A chapter for each stage of labor
- The Three Rs: Relaxation, Rhythm, and Ritual
- Comforting Techniques for You to Try
- 5 Strategies for Challenging Variations in Normal Labor
- The Take-Charge Routine
- Key Questions for Informed Decision Making
- Essential Observations During Labor
- Management of Normal Labor without Pain Medications
- What You Both Need to Know About Pain Medications
- Your Role During and After a Cesarean Birth
- The First Few Days Postpartum
- The Mother’s Postpartum Emotions
3. The Hypnobirthing Book by Katherine Graves
Hypnobirthing is using positive words to help people let go of negative ideas surrounding birth. The basic belief of hypnobirthing is if there is no fear or negative emotion towards birth, then there will not be any pain.
This book covers the physiology of birth and it included some illustrations that helped me understand childbirth. It also emphasizes the importance of the birth environment. Finally and most importantly, it includes mental and emotional strategies to cope with childbirth. The book came with relaxation scripts and audio recordings. The recordings were so helpful since I played the relaxation audio on a nightly basis and while I was in labor.
- Relaxation scripts and MP3 downloads
- The Uterus, and the Fear and Confident Responses
- Relaxation Techniques
- The Onset of Labor and Building Confidence
4. Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin
Ina May dives into the health and psychological benefits of breastfeeding for the mother and child. It gives you practical advice on everything related to breastfeeding.
- How Breastfeeding Works, and How It Relates to Mothering
- Preparing for Nursing
- Problem-Solving During the First Week [of Breastfeeding]
- If You have a Job Outside the Home
- The First Three Months
- Nursing Twins… And More
- Creating a Breastfeeding Culture
5. Montessori From the Start by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen
I have already mentioned my love for Montessori From the Start from my blog on “The Montessori Approach to Walking”. This is a comprehensive exploration of Maria Montessori’s teachings for raising a baby the Montessori Way. It covers the first three years and discusses everything from the design of baby’s bedroom to the types of toys to purchase, from the type of clothing for movement to preparation of food.
- The Completion of the Human Being
- Welcoming the Newborn
- Discovering the World
- Crawling to Coordination
- Practical Life
- Language and Intelligence