Tuesday, 15 August 2017

I've been umm-ing and ahh-ing about how much pregnancy stuff to put on the blog and, especially, how to make it food-related, but I've come to the conclusion that the pregnancy things I've enjoyed reading the most are by people I already know through social media and blogging. That personal angle is so much more important to me than what can be found in a book, and I've really relied more on word of mouth than anything else throughout many aspects of my pregnancy. With that in mind, this reading list is somewhat short and sweet, but I hope anyone with a baby on the way or who is just interested finds this list useful. I should note here, the list of actual books is short, but my descriptions are quite lengthy!

How To Grow A Baby *and push it out - Being interested in pregnancy and babies in general, even before we were planning, I had already heard about this book and had it earmarked to read if/when I got pregnant. It's written by midwife Clemmie Hooper - who happens to work at the hospital where I'm giving birth! - and what I've really enjoyed about it is that is is written as if you're talking to a mate (albeit a very knowledgeable, midwife-type mate); it reassures you that just because you should be eating 5 fruit and veg a day, it's okay if you can only manage a handful of chips and slices of bread, because you're that nauseous; it answers questions you might be too shy to ask, like pooing in labour and how to prepare your hoo ha for the all-important birth bit. On the whole, it's very non-judgemental, while equipping you with the facts you need and things to be aware of, and I've loved reading it and coming back to it through my pregnancy. This book, combined with NCT classes, has helped me to feel confident about what I want (and asking for it) when it comes to birth.

Expecting Better - I wasn't going to buy any other pregnancy books; to be quite honest, I'm not sure I see the point. You can get all the latest health advice on NHS Choices (a god-send for quickly looking up if you 'can' eat smoked salmon or not) and I've just not been that interested in what I 'should' or 'shouldn't' be doing during my pregnancy. However, Poppy D and Ruth Crilly recommended this in their favourites vlog and I liked how Poppy described it as 'Freakonomics for pregnancy'. The author does a deep dive into common pregnancy advice, looking at what studies they're all based on, when/how the studies were done and so on to come to her own conclusions about which ones should be followed to the tee and which ones offer a little wriggle room. As someone who has eaten sushi, drunk a glass of prosecco here and there and spent hours lying on my back on the sofa, I was keen to see if my relaxed approach to pregnancy should actually be of concern to me.

The Positive Birth Book - The two books above are the only pregnancy-related ones I've read, but this hypnobirthing book came highly recommended by our NCT leader and I've downloaded the sample on my Kindle to see if I like it (hands down the best Kindle feature!). The table of contents is incredibly thorough, which makes me think this book would be a really good starter for someone coming at birth for the first time (which I am) and a good introduction to hypnobirthing which isn't, as the name would suggest, so much about being 'hypnotised' in the Disney sense, but giving you the knowledge and tools to frame your birth experience in a different way to the scary/traumatic experiences often highlighted by the media.

Your Baby's First Year - I think Darren and I have quite a 'wait and see' approach; we're excited to have our baby here with us, fairly confident in what we already know and even though I have suffered with anxiety in the past, it hasn't come into play at all during my pregnancy or in thinking about what happens once we actually get the baby home.

Despite being the self-confessed baby whisperer and going gaga for babies everywhere, Darren said he still wanted a book that just had the basics in it in a straightforward, non-judgemental format. I'd heard good things about What To Expect In Baby's First Year, but he flicked through a friend's copy and even that had too much 'advice' in it for him. I bought this book on the recommendation of my physiotherapist friend Lulu, who contributed to it, and while it's quite straightforward and simple - Darren ended up feeling like he knew most of the things in there - I think we are going to find it useful to dip in and out of when the baby's actually here, to quickly check things like, 'hang on, when can we start doing this' and so on. Also, at the back, there's a reference of common childhood illnesses and what to look out for. Many people would quickly look up this type of thing on the internet (on a reputable source, people!), but it's nice to have a book to be able to refer to as well.

Our NCT leader recommend the Lullaby Trust Baby Check app for quickly checking medical symptoms and advising if and when you should take your baby to A&E.

The Wonder Weeks - I've heard good things about this book as well, which discusses baby's developmental milestones and how this can potentially affect your baby's behaviour. I've got it on my wish list should I feel like I want a bit more insight as the baby gets older.

Parenting and relationships has always been something that has interested me - is it a bit wanky to say that's what led me to study Social Anthropology at uni? Because of this, I've always preferred reading non-fiction, but with an anecdotal or observant slant - food memoirs being my favourite genre! A lot of what interests me is different approaches to parenting around the world, which is reflected by the 3 books below - and my love of Cup of Jo's Motherhood Around The World series.

I think what I take from all of these books is that none of them subscribe to or push 'methods' - rather, they are meant to be a bit lighthearted and offer a little insight into different ways to parent that you might not have thought of before, whether that's because of your heritage, where you live or your own childhood. And if you are someone who has subscribed to reading every pregnancy and baby book going, they will provide a bit of light relief, while still dealing with the topic at hand.

French Children Don't Throw Food - I've always wanted to read this, but felt like reading parenting books when you don't have kids is a bit weird! I bought this as soon as I found out I was pregnant and I'm currently re-reading it as I remember being interested in the author's observations on sleep, manners and food (especially the food bit!). As with all generalised things like this, read it with a pinch of salt - unless any French parents want to weigh in and say it's all true!

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm - I absolutely loved this book. The author and her partner have a multi-racial background and are naturally interested in parenting around the world; she was a Taiwanese child adopted into an American family and the couple live in Buenos Aires. As with all books in this vein, it can romanticise practices that are borne out of necessity, like co-sleeping because there is nowhere else for your child to sleep, but overall I like how she had a number of different perspectives with which to reflect on her findings from around the world.

Parenting Without Borders - Focusing more on childhood than new babies, I also really enjoyed this. Like the book above, it looks at different childrearing practices around the world, with a particular focus on Japan, where the American author spent time raising her children. Another one to read if you're interested in both children and foreign countries.

Do you have any books to add? Any more recommendations - particularly less serious books - would be very much appreciated for the final stretch!

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