Book Recs for a Parent-to-Be
26 Jan 2023
I read a lot of books while pregnant and in my first year of parenting, about pregnancy, giving birth, and parenting. Here are some of the ones I liked best.
- The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy - get this instead of any What to Expect books for a play-by-play of how pregnancy usually progresses without as much infantilizing or fat-shaming.
- Expecting Better by Emily Oster. Goes into the tradeoffs and tells you the 'why' behind all the recommendations to do or not do things while you're pregnant, so you can make an informed choice.
- The birth doula who helped me during labor is an Evidenced-Based Birth educator, and recommended I read the articles at the EBB website. They had a lot of research for when I had questions about particular aspects of things I might get a say on when it came time to give birth.
- The Birth Partner, while geared towards the birthing person's partner or support person, was so helpful for me to read. It taught me way more about what happens in labor than the Mayo Clinic Guide, and had more practical tips on how to get through it.
# Infant Care
- Heading Home with Your Newborn. Published by the AAP, it focuses on all the practical parts of, "okay, I have a baby now, what do I do with it".
- Precious Little Sleep. What's normal with baby sleep, how to start with good habits around sleep, and later on, what are your options for encouraging better sleep in an older baby. This was practically a holy book in our house for the first few months and we still occasionally reference it now that the baby is one.
# Science & Feelings
- What No One Tells You: A Guide to your Emotions from Pregnancy to Motherhood. Helpful for getting a feel for what emotional swings are normal, and what might be concerning, and the concept of matrescence (identity shifts when one becomes a mother) in general.
- Like a Mother by Angela Garbes is a mix of memoir and science, a very feminist look at what it means to be pregnant and become a mother.
- Nurture the Wow by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is on the possible spirituality of parenting. The author is Jewish (I'm not) and significantly more spiritual than I consider myself to be, but I still found it a really nice read with a lot of good ideas about engaging in the grind of parenting in a more mindful, wonder-filled way.
# Progressive Parenting
- I read White Kids: Growing up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America by Margaret Hagerman while pregnant and it was really thought provoking. It's a sociological look at how white kids conceptualize race, across 3 different settings in the same city - a diverse progressive neighborhood, a middle of the road mostly white neighborhood, and a white exurban conservative enclave. Gave me a lot to think about that will mostly be relevant later, unless you're thinking of moving for "better schools" or some such thing.
- Raising Them: Our adventure in gender creative parenting by Kyl Myers is about how Kyl and their partner chose not to assign a gender to their child at birth - they used they pronouns for the baby until the child was old enough to declare a gender identity/pronoun preference. While we ultimately chose to assign our baby a gender at birth as is typically done, it was great to hear a first-hand account of someone choosing otherwise and having it go mostly well as we weighed what to do.
- How to Raise an Intuitive Eater had some theory and practical advice on attempting to raise a kid with a healthy relationship with food and their body - which in our culture seems very hard! It spent a lot of time explaining and advocating for intuitive eating as a concept, so check it out even if you're not already on board with intuitive eating.
- The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America by Virginia Sole-Smith is not entirely a parenting book though parenting a kid with feeding challenges is a throughline. Also subscribe to Virginia's newsletter and/or podcast, Burnt Toast, which is so good, on the intersection of parenting, diet culture, and fatphobia, and look forward to her new book Fat Talk (see below).
I liked Equal Partners: Improving Gender Equality at Home by Kate Mangino. Don't waste your time with How Not to Hate your Husband After Kids.
# On my to-read list:
- Good Inside by Becky Kennedy is the book that everyone seems to be talking about right now. I just downloaded it.
- Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture by Virginia Sole-Smith comes out this spring and as a big VSS fan I'm looking forward to reading it.
- How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen is recommended so much. I need to get to it soon as my baby is quickly becoming a toddler with big feelings and strong preferences about how things should go, that are not always the way things can go.