There are a ton of books about pregnancy and raising babies out there. It can be overwhelming and ends up stressing a lot of new moms out more than it helps. My strategy was to pick five that resonated with my values and beliefs and stick to those and those alone. I’m sure I’ll read many more parenting books as we move through different stages of raising our daughter, but at this point in time, I’ve found five amazing books that have helped me organize my thoughts and get me in the right mindset for motherhood.
I can’t recommend these books enough! I also suggest reading them in this order if possible.
1. Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck
I recommend starting with this book if you can. At the beginning of pregnancy, you don’t need to worry about breastfeeding and sleep schedules… in fact it’s better if you don’t even think about these things yet. What you do need to focus on is taking care of your body for the next nine months. Real Food for Mother and Baby breaks down what your body needs nutritionally in each trimester and even for fertility if you want to start it earlier.
What helped me the most in the beginning was that it got rid of my guilt about not being able to eat fruits and vegetables in the first trimester. I was so sick that toast and seltzer were the main staples of my diet. The book made me feel ok about it when it explained that all I really needed during this time was calories. As long as I was taking my prenatal supplements to get folic acid and other nutrients to the baby, I was golden.
In my 2nd trimester, it guided me towards more meats and cheese and now in my 3rd, Nina Planck suggests as much fish/Omega-3s as possible so I’m focusing on that. She also goes over supplements and has a great general knowledge of having a healthy pregnancy.
2. Bringing up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman
Based on a recommendation from a friend, I devoured Bringing up Bébé in just aa few days. My suggestion is to read this second, after Real Food because it also talks a lot about pregnancy. It’s written by an American journalist living in Paris who noticed that French children were more well behaved than American children, and the babies were all sleeping through the night!
She starts by explaining how French women approach pregnancy (prioritize your mental and physical health, don’t worry too much, and have lots of sex!), and then goes into labor (don’t try to be a hero and don’t let your husband watch “down there”), sleep training (your baby needs to learn how to self sooth), and ends up with a section on raising small children (don’t interrupt them when they are speaking). There is a great section in the back with overviews of each concept that I had my husband read. This was so helpful for him and for me so I didn’t have to dog ear the whole thing.
I found it highly interesting to read because it calmed me down about reading too many pregnancy books, making me feel like I didn’t have to do too much research. Plus I loved the overall approach to pregnancy and raising kids.
3. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D.
This is probably the most recommended book… on the block (get it?) based on what I’ve heard. The Happiest Baby on the Block was written by Dr. Harvey Karp, a baby expert who teaches you how to calm a crying baby and help your newborn sleep better. Um, win/win? I learned so many hands on techniques that I’ll use as soon as she’s born. If you don’t feel like reading the whole book, at least learn the five S’s to help sooth your baby. Game changing, or so I hear.
4. The Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford
My friend Bailey forced me to read this book, but I wasn’t so sure about it at first. She has three boys and swears by The Contented Little Baby Book after using it’s sleep and feeding schedule for the second two who both slept through the night by eight weeks (the first one was not a good sleeper). When I heard that I reluctantly agreed to check it out. It’s written by a Gina Ford, British baby nurse who is super intense and super strict about the schedule she created. According to Gina, if you follow her schedule from day one, your baby will be calmer and sleep through the night in no time. I loved her approach and even had my mom and Anel read it so we’re all on the same page.
I’m printing out each week’s schedules for naps, feedings, and bedtime now so that when the baby comes, we have a quick guide to reference. It makes me feel like I’ll have a at least a control in what is bound to be an uncontrollable situation. For anyone who is Type A and likes lists and schedules, definitely read this book.
5. How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn
A reader recommended How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids a few weeks ago and I’m so grateful! While most books you read during pregnancy are about mama and baby, they don’t usually cover your relationship. I know that if Anel and I have a happy marriage, we’ll be better parents, but that can be a huge challenge for many people in the first year after having a kid.
This book gave me tools for how to speak to him post-baby, and how to tamper my frustrations if he’s not doing all of the things that I want him to be doing. It also helped me see things from the husband’s perspective, and there were a lot of great passages that I underlined for Anel to read as well. I’m so glad that we both read this before the baby and not after.
What were your favorite books to read during pregnancy? I’d love to know!