My Favourite Pregnancy + Postpartum Books
In my line of work, I tend to get asked by clients what my favourite books are for this magical journey that is pregnancy, parenthood and beyond. In my many years of working in the birth world, I have compiled a go-to list of resources. Now that I myself am pregnant, re-reading and exploring these books again have brought them to light in a completely new way for me as I am resonating with the content on an even more personal level.
There are so many wonderful books out there, which can make it challenging to choose which one is right for you. My advice is to pick one that aligns with your values and your general ideals regarding pregnancy and birth and then perhaps choose one that you would never in a million years think of choosing! The value we can get from opening ourselves to a different viewpoint from ours usually leads to new ways of thinking, informing us of things we may never have known otherwise and challenging our beliefs by either strengthening their conviction or showing us that another option may have even more benefit.
Regardless of how you go about it, I do recommend investing in at least one book to use as a guide, tool and pregnancy companion to help instill more knowledge about the birth process and postpartum period.
My biggest goal when I teach or share about pregnancy and birth is simply to provide you with information to empower you and allow you to make the best choices for you and your pregnancy! Knowledge is truly power!!
While most pregnancy books are geared towards the person physically carrying and delivering the baby, The Birth Partner is for, you guessed it, whoever happens to be the birther’s partner. Like the subtitle of the book reads; its a complete guide to childbirth for dads, partners, Doulas and all other labour companions. It is a super practical and approachable guidebook, providing hands on advice for what to expect during labour and how to cope. It is always one of the books I recommend to my clients, I’ve even had some bring it with them to the hospital on delivery day! If that’s not a testament to its usefulness then I don’t know what is.
Ina May Gaskin is one of the most well known Midwives in North America. In 1971 she was one of the founding members of The Farm Midwives, a community based midwifery clinic based in an intentional community called The Farm located in Tennessee. If you check out their website you’ll get an understanding of the sort of vibe you can expect from this book. It is definitely more on the “crunchy granola” wavelength but it is such a beautiful snapshot of the power of the human body and the importance of love and connection. She balances out her expert advice with collections of birth stories from her time on The Farm. While most of us won’t have the same birth setting and experience as her clients, its a really empowering read and a fantastic alternative to the more clinical approaches from the traditional pregnancy books out there.
I just adore Erica Chidi Cohen and her work with Loom. She is a Doula and Educator based in LA and out of all the books hers is the most recent publication. I truly wish it existed years ago. It is THE modern guide to the pregnancy experience and parenthood. It is set up like a workbook, meant to be returned to, filled with notes and exercises, giving you the tools to reflect on your pregnancy journey. It touches on miscarriage and child loss in such a nurturing way (the title of the book is apt) as well which I feel is left out in the majority of prenatal books.
Completely judgement free and read like your most informed and supportive best friend is talking to you, this book is a must for anyone that is pregnant or considering becoming pregnant. I really like to give this book as a gift for friends and family who are expecting.
The long overlooked period of postpartum which is now becoming more discussed (hallelujah!), The Fourth Trimester dives into those tender first 3 months after baby when all is new and can be shockingly foreign. This book provides a holistic approach to healing physically, emotionally and spiritually during this new stage of life. This book is sectioned out for when you are pregnant to after you deliver so it can be read during any stage to help parents get a handle of what to expect and how to prepare before baby arrives.
One of the things I like most about this book is the emphasis it places on the complex emotional responses to parenthood. It helps to normalize a lot of feelings (that aren’t generally discussed out in the open as they should be, especially the conflicting ones like “I don’t always feel happy or in love with my baby and new life”. The transition to parenthood is HARD so it’s nice to have a book that can help you process and discuss what you might be feeling.
Another excellent and gorgeously photographed book all about the postpartum period. The First Forty Days encapsulates the ancient tradition in many cultures (for this book it draws on the Chinese tradition) to lie in and nourish the mother during the first forty days after birth. The focus is on recovering, healing and bonding with your new babe. Providing helpful and interesting advice for your physical and emotional health it also has a section on healing postpartum foods and tasty recipes to help support and nourish the body. A really gorgeous book that also makes a great baby shower or postpartum gift.
What were some of your favourites? Let me know in the comments below.