Planning to spend your childbearing year alone on a desert island? Probably not, but if you were, you might want to bring along the next best things to midwife, paediatrician and experienced friend: a few carefully selected books that can answer all your questions and give you lots of emotional support. Even if you’re staying well within civilization, these trustworthy titles will ensure that you don’t feel like you’re alone on a desert island.
Brushing Up on Birth
Most childbirth educators and attendants are quick to recommend Sheila Kitzinger’s classic The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth. Certified doula and childbirth educator Valerie Meesschaert says, “It covers everything, the information is excellent, and it’s well illustrated.” Pregnancy and Birth: The Best Evidence (co-authored by regular Pregnancy and Birth contributor Teresa Pitman) is a more recent guide that is also balanced, reliable and easy to read.
With more birthing options available today, a good resource for expectant parents is a book and video set called Gentle Birth Choices. It discusses a range of options including birthing centres, home birth and water birth attended by doctors as well as midwives. “It presents very realistic views,” notes nurse-midwife and childbirth educator Sinclair Harris, who has shown the video to her classes.
For those interested in exploring pregnancy and birth beyond the physical, Meesschaert suggests Birthing from Within. Through journal writing and creative exercises, this book invites women to delve into the emotional and spiritual dimensions of this great rite of passage.
And for partners, the revised edition of The Birth Partner will tell you everything you need to know to support a woman in labour and delivery, including pain relief techniques, tips for communicating with caregivers and current information on medical interventions and tests. A good read for both of you.
All About Babies
Paediatrician William Sears and his wife Martha, a nurse, are parents of eight and have written many excellent books on all aspects of parenting, including The Baby Book, one of the most thoughtful and thorough books on the subject. Penelope Leach, author of the updated Your Baby and Child, is another well-respected expert. If you are expecting two, try Having Twins by Elizabeth Noble.
Best Bets for Breastfeeding
Pregnant mothers planning to breastfeed are wise to have a reliable book on hand. La Leche League leader Melissa Garneau says, “Bestfeeding has lots of pictures and is great for getting positioning right, which is key to successful breastfeeding”. Another fully revised classic is La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, while the Canadian Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding gets enthusiastic recommendations.
More on Motherhood
With most of your time and energy devoted to your new baby, it is easy to neglect yourself. Mothering the New Mother reminds you to take care of your own needs during this intense time. “It’s a very nurturing book,” notes Harris. Meesschaert also recommends The Year After Birth by Kitzinger to help you through the postpartum transition and complete your library.
Stocking Your Shelf
Many of these books will be available at local libraries or you may want to order from a local bookseller.
PARENTBOOKS in Toronto specializes in books on pregnancy, birth and parenting and will ship anywhere in Canada. Tel. (416) 537-8334 or 1-800-209-9182.
PARRY SOUND BOOKS also carries a wide range of parenting titles and specializes in books about special needs. They will also ship anywhere in Canada and have a free catalogue available. Tel. (705) 746-7625.
The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, by Sheila Kitzinger, Knopf (Cdn. dist. Random House), 1996, $33.50 hardcover.
Pregnancy and Birth: The Best Evidence, by Joyce Barrett, MD, and Teresa Pitman, Today’s Parent/Key Porter Books, 1999, $26.95 softcover.
Gentle Birth Choices, by Barbara Harper, RN, Ten Speed Press, 2001 (Cdn. dist. General), $64 boxed book and video set, $26.95 softcover book only.
Birthing from Within, by Pam England, Partera Press (Independent Publishers Group), 1998, $31.95 softcover.
The Birth Partner (second edition), by Penny Simkin, Harvard Common Press, 2001, $18.95 softcover.
The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby — From Birth to Age Two, by William Sears, MD, and Martha Sears, RN, Little, Brown, 1993, $30 softcover.
Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age Five, by Penelope Leach, Knopf, (Cdn. dist. Random House), rev. 1997, $31 softcover.
Having Twins, by Elizabeth Noble, Houghton Mifflin, 1991, $28.95 softcover.
Bestfeeding: Getting Breastfeeding Right for You, by Mary Renfrew, Chloe Fisher and Suzanne Arms, Celestial Arts (Cdn. dist. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, by La Leche League International, NAL-Dutton, (Cdn. dist. Penguin), rev. 1997, $23.50 softcover.
Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding, by Jack Newman, MD, and Teresa Pitman, HarperCollins, 2000, $26 softcover.
Mothering the New Mother: Women’s Feelings and Needs After Childbirth, by Sally Placksin, Newmarket Press, rev. 2000, $26.50 softcover.
The Year After Childbirth, by Sheila Kitzinger, Simon and Schuster, 1996, $13 softcover.