My Go-To Pregnancy Books
Christina shares her recommendations on what to start reading in pregnancy.
Once the joy of finding out you’re pregnant gives way to settling into your new reality, the questions and curiosities start to stir. This phase of initial questions should be cherished, but can easily become overwhelmed by the sheer number of resources and voices out there. Websites, blogs, podcasts, apps, and books remain favorites, but the sheer volume of them, and the number of voices in the field, can be daunting.
When my clients become pregnant, as their doula, I’d like to share some of my go-to recommendations on where to start. What I love about pregnancy books, despite all of the higher tech resources out there right now, is that you can go at your own pace. I find myself reading them with the childlike curiosity I took to reading when I was young, as opposed to websites or apps, which I briefly skim and end up going down the rabbit hole of clicking, before I get tired and swipe up.
Consider one or all of these books. I find these to be more foundational, and from there, you can branch off into other books that build your philosophy towards your birth experience.
The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Partners, Doulas, and Other Labor Companions, now in its 5th edition
This is the book that’s always in my doula bag. It’s tagged, and flagged, and more than well-used. This book is not only informative but also really focuses on how partners and doulas can support a mom. Penny Simkin is one of the co-founders of DONA International (Doulas of North America). She has spent a lifetime thinking about what it means to support birth. This is a great book for your partner to get oriented to birth and ways to support you. If you want a book more for mom, try Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide written by Penny and other authors.
As you can clearly see by the title, Rebecca Dekker is one of my favorite authors on the topic of birth. What Rebecca has done for the world, and for which I am deeply grateful, is to create and maintain the website Evidence Based Birth. Whenever my clients have questions about specific birth interventions (interventions meaning something clinical that may happen during the course of pregnancy, labor, and birth), I always turn to Rebecca. She has not only synthesized years of evidence (which have varying degrees of strength) but also stays on top of emerging evidence, like her archive of research updates on pregnancy and COVID-19. If you want a thorough and concise summary of the evidence, turn to Rebecca, her book or her website.
Judy Lothian was my Lamaze Childbirth Educator trainer, and seeing her name brings back many nostalgic memories of sitting in her living room in Brooklyn, New York with other trainees, learning about the evidence-based framework that Lamaze uses to underpin their education and resources. I chose to train in Lamaze because I believe in looking at the evidence around all things related to pregnancy and childbirth. The book is a very simply laid out guide to pregnancy and birth and is undergirded by staying atop the emerging evidence on all of these topics. It’s a great place to start.
Mary Haseltine is a Catholic doula and has done much service to Catholic moms in combining her knowledge and wisdom as a doula with our faith. Her accompanying website continues the content with a wide variety of topics as well as a completely free directory of Catholic providers: Midwives, OBs, Doulas, and other professionals. Mary is a strong voice in the blending of pregnancy and Catholic faith. Check her book and her website out.
You’ve probably uttered this phrase already, if you are a new parent to a newborn. Knowing all too well there’s so many things you’re not told, Ginger Breedlove walks through the first six weeks of having a newborn, coupled with the voices of new parents in the various chapters. This book is really about the first few weeks of parenting, but I showcase it here because when it comes time to become a parent of a newborn, book reading is not exactly the luxury it may be now! Reading this book towards the second half of your pregnancy will put you in a great position to rock those first weeks, and feel very validated in the emotions of those early days!
For moms of color, I recommend checking out some of the lists out there on go-to pregnancy books. Many pregnancy books today are written by White women, which are useful, but may not be relatable to all moms. Memoirs like Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin or My Brown Baby by Denene Miller, in addition to the Allen-Campbell and Greenidge-Hewitt book listed above, are great places for Black moms to hear from voices they can both identify with and learn from.
Hopefully you aren’t overwhelmed! Take your time in considering these resources, and gently follow your curiosities. This is truly a magical time, and hopefully these resources will be a slow dive into the months ahead.