We are not too far away from meeting our baby girl, which completely blows my mind. Whenever someone asks me how I would best describe pregnancy, the word that always appears in the forefront is “bizarre.” At the same time, my body was literally built for this. But despite that fact and the fact that I am one of the last of my friends to give birth (I’ve been supplied with tons of information from them over the last few years!), I wanted to be as prepared as I could be by reading books on pregnancy and postpartum to really help me feel ready for this next chapter of my life. I’ve never been pregnant before, and I was completely overwhelmed in the beginning of the pregnancy.
I had a lot of questions and despite having some understanding of what this experience would be like from secondhand accounts, I still felt like I was walking into this a bit blind. There are moments where pregnancy can feel a bit scary, especially in the beginning. Luckily, a bunch of my friends recommended some books to read during my early days about pregnancy, and as I approached the third trimester I began to read more to prepare me for postpartum. Below are some of the books I read front to back during my pregnancy that I highly recommend for my fellow mamas and parents-to-be.
By Emily Oster
Expecting Better was recommended to me by more than one of my friends. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, two of my friends suggested I start reading this book immediately since the author dives deep on the topics of the early days of pregnancy. The author explores common myths that are talked about with each trimester, and she also uses scientific data to back up her research. She’s a mom herself so getting a first person account of her experience, including sharing her own anxieties and stresses about pregnancy, was really helpful to read. The beau also read this book so he could better understand what I’d be going through over the next nine months. And yes, I know you might gasp at that one statement on the cover: “Drinking safely during pregnancy”, and she explains it all in her book, but just to clear the air: I actually stopped drinking right after Christmas 2021 because I thought it would increase my chances of getting pregnant (if you saw me posing with alcohol in January it was just a prop), and I don’t plan on having a glass of anything until my baby girl is about 6 months old.
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn
The Complete Guide
Written by several doctors and registered nurses, Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn feels a little bit like a textbook however it explains absolutely everything without any fluff. The beau doesn’t have much experience with babies, so he found this book extremely insightful with straight-to-the-point facts especially about delivery and the early days of newborn life. I’ll be honest and share that I didn’t really read much in the pregnancy section so I mostly skimmed that part (I began reading this book in my second trimester), but I was very interested to read more about labor and delivery. At the time I started this book, I had not yet had any birthing classes and I was eager to get a head start on learning more about childbirth. This is my first baby and what helps ease my anxiety is to know as much information as possible so I don’t feel left in the dark. This book gave me a ton of information, as well the beau.
By Sophie Fletcher
As someone who suffers from severe anxiety, I was very interested to learn more about hypnobirthing even before I became pregnant. Hypnobirthing involves using calming and mindfulness techniques during labor and delivery, and it helps mom remain focused and at ease as much as possible. It can be used with or without an epidural, or for either a vaginal delivery or Caesarean section. It’s a way to basically control your mind as you go through the stages of labor, transition, and delivery. My mind has a tendency to wander about like crazy, especially in stressful situations, so I wanted to work on combatting that so I can be more focused and present during delivery. Before we even hired our doula, I began reading Mindful Hypnobirthing to help educate me better on the process of hypnobirthing. Even after the beau, our doula, and myself took hypnobirthing classes, I have continued to reference this book to keep my mind fresh as we get closer to my due date.
The Fourth Trimester
By Kimberly Ann Johnson
Pretty much all of my friends who are moms have recommended The Fourth Trimester to me and have encouraged me to embrace what is called “the fourth trimester.” The fourth trimester is observed once baby is born, and it’s a time to heal, bond, restore, and balance as you welcome your baby home and adjust to your new chapter. This book covers everything – from restoring your mind to simple exercises that help the body adjust postpartum to exploring several cultures’ views on postpartum life. I spent most of my pregnancy alone (the beau is a pilot who was subject to strict quarantine rules away from home any time he went to work), with my entire family and longtime friends remaining 8000 miles away. I won’t have the same postpartum support my fellow family members or my friends had when they delivered their babies, so to prevent myself from feeling overwhelmed and stressed, I am looking forward to embracing the fourth trimester so I can be the best present mama that my daughter needs.
The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother
By Heng Ou
One of the many questions I have been asked when I revealed I would be giving birth in Hong Kong was, “Are you going to observe the traditional Chinese beliefs of the first forty days?” I had done my research in the beginning of the pregnancy reading about traditional Chinese methods on observing the first forty days after giving birth. Some methods I absolutely loved the sound of, but other methods I found may not best fit what I was hoping for postpartum. I wanted to do some kind of a happy medium, and The First Forty Days gave me enough information to form my own postpartum plan as I adjust to my new life as a new mom. While I don’t plan on remaining indoors for 40 days, I do plan on incorporating ginger a lot in my healing process (if I have an uncomplicated birth). In fact, I found out my hospital offers a ginger bath for new moms that I absolutely want to try before I head home. Filled with recipes and lists of nourishing foods that help restore the body, along with a day-by-day guide for mom to help her heal and bond with baby, I absolutely loved this book so much. This book has made me even more excited about my first days at home with my baby.
What are some pregnancy and postpartum books that you loved or would recommend to parents-to-be?