I created this list to recommend resources that were great for me in pregnancy, labor and birth, and early parenting.
The recommendations below are sort of in chronological order of when I recommend using them during the pregnancy, birth, and baby experience.
Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent by Meredith Small
This book is GREAT! From an evolutionary biology perspective and an ethnopediatric approach, it is a cross-cultural examination of parenting norms regarding baby and parent sleep, baby eating, and baby crying. It re-calibrated my sense of what is and has been normal for humans. It's in the top 5 of my recommended books in this list.
Prenatal Yoga With Shiva Rea DVD ~ Shiva Rea
I used this DVD alot and recommend it. With modifications for all 3 trimesters performed by people in those trimesters, it has lots of hip-openers and side stretches to prepare for birth and to open up parts that get kind of smashed together as the body adjusts to the baby inside. It does, however, require a regular dining-room chair or folding chair to do some of the poses correctly, especially as you get larger, and The Lounge doesn't have any regular chairs.
Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by CNM, MA, Pam England
My partner and I took a 6-week class from a teacher certified in these methods and it was a great psychological preparation. The book is full of insights and exercises--mental & psychological, with an art component. It also had info on the role of doulas in helping women have great birth experiences: shorter labors and fewer interventions. The class, like the book, included visualizations and drawings, as well as practicing pain coping techniques using ice cubes and techniques & role-plays to deal with hospital staff.
Our Birthing From Within Keepsake Journal by Pam England
The Birthing From Within class used this journal as a workbook.
HypBirth: Natural Childbirth Preparation Kit (DVD) - by HypBirth
I so strongly recommend this. This is the CD series that I used to learn triggered relaxation techniques. With these techniques, facilitated by my fabulous doula, I had a peaceful, powerful, wonderful birth experience during which I was focused and physically relaxed. I recommend this higher than anything else, especially used in concert with a doula or other labor support person trained in facilitating these techniques. A really big plus is that I used these techniques before and after Jack was born to trigger my relaxation and be able to go to sleep really quickly, which is valuable to a tired pregnant woman and an exhausted new mother with only 2 hours to sleep before the next feeding. Here are the benefits listed by the author, all of which were true for me: * Minimize pain dramatically during labor and birth. * Produce a faster and easier delivery. Reduce the need for an episiotomy. * Enhance comfort and sleep in your pregnancy. * 80% of all clients give birth in less than six hours, including first time moms.
Active Birth : The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally, Revised Edition by Janet Balaskas
This book was just what I was looking for. It has lots of pictures and diagrams of women using various positions to give birth. It also has a great illustration of all the muscles that are involved in the abdomen and pelvis--stretching from chest to knee--that was quite inspiring to me as a tool to envision my own power in birthing. I copied many images from this book to use on my "labor poster" as reference points. Great book. Includes specific pieces written for labor partners about how to physically support a laboring woman in positions kneeling or squatting; and it has a section on positions for water births.
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
This book is organized by intervention; so, a chapter on Cesearean birth, a chapter on induction, etc, from mild interventions like IVs to the big ones. Each intervention is discussed in medical detail, including possible benefits, possible risks, and suggested questions to ask if a medical professional suggests a specific intervention. Super useful and something that I tagged with sticky notes and brought with me to the hospital in my birth bag. Didn't end up referring to it because I had a fabulous birth, but I was glad to have the information. It did, however, freak me out a bit.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Ina May Gaskin is a famous midwife who has attended over 1000 births. She has written for midwives; this book is for birthing women. Half of the book is birth stories, which are great to read to counteract our stupid culture's "Oh My God! It's my first contraction! Let's run to the hospital immediately and lay still for hours!" mentality. Ina May is also very body-oriented and brings a great earthiness to her writing and advice.
The Nursing Mother's Companion: Revised Edition by Kathleen Huggins
I didn't read this book, but I did get a pamphlet with an excerpt of the "surviving the first 2 weeks" section and it was really really useful. So I bet getting the whole book and reading it BEFORE attempting sleep-deprived breastfeeding with a floppy hungry baby would be a really good idea.
The Happiest Baby on the Block - The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer (DVD) DVD ~ Dr. Harvey Karp
We watched this moments after we brought Jack home from the hospital. These techniques were ones we used many times a day to help Jack be calm, which is a state in which babies can observe, sense, and learn the most. We believe in not letting babies cry and responding quickly to their needs and this DVD taught us how to implement those beliefs. Very Very Good.
The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley
This book has great, scientifically valid methods to track baby wake-ups to see patterns and then specific suggestions to help babies learn to put themselves back to sleep. Written from an attachment parenting perspective and very tender about the sweetness of sleeping babies. It's written for sleep-deprived people to read easily.
What's Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life by Lise Eliot
This was a great book my mother-in-law got me. It's fascinating and gives scientific developmental info about brain development; recommends similar things to what many attachment parenting books recommend but with indepth research & info backing it up: infant massage and lots of parent-baby skin contact & touching, breastfeeding, vestibular stimulation, etc.
Infant Massage--Revised Edition: A Handbook for Loving Parents by Vimala Schneider Mcclure
This was a great book that was more in-depth than I could really take in, but it's a good information set. I still use these techniques with Jack. Loving touch and skin-to-skin contact is really important for healthy infant development.
Baby Signs: How to Talk with Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk, New Edition by Linda Acredolo
This book includes a visual dictionary of baby signs (some ASL, some altered to be easier for small folks with poor fine motor skills) AND--my favorite thing--a series of poems and songs listing corresponding signs. Jack's favorite is "Butterfly Wings."
My First Baby Signs by Linda Acredolo
Here's one of a series of board books with pictures of babies doing baby signs and written directions for parents, along with pictures of the thing itself--ball, baby, cat, dog, etc. There are other books in this series including Animals, Bedtime (which is GREAT as part of our bedtime routine), Mealtime, and others.