How you wish you would have prepared for motherhood

I’ve always loved to read, and I’ve always been one of those people that feels more prepared with the more information I have.  Well, at least that was the case until pregnancy.  As soon as I was pregnant, I ran out and bought a stack of books to learn about the changes happening to my body and mind.  Unfortunately, I also became super overwhelmed shortly after.  I found that there were a lot of books and resources that really tried to shove their idea of the best methods down your throat, or that felt judgemental or negative from page one.  

After reading lots of flops, the below books stood out to me as the ‘must-reads’ for preparing mentally and emotionally for childbirth, the postpartum period and early motherhood. 

Expecting Better by Emily Oster

Expecting Better by Emily Oster

This is my go-to ‘bible’ for pregnancy. It’s the book I loan to friends when they tell me they’re pregnant.  This is an easily digestible and approachable book based on the examination of real data and old wives tales.  Oster examines things like caffeine intake and eating sushi during pregnancy,  co-sleeping and “spoiling” your baby, all in a non-judgmental way).  I found it to be a helpful way of looking at all of the things you’re “not supposed to do” or that you’re “absolutely meant to do” via the lens of data.  The chapters are easily titled so that you can flip to whatever topic interests you at that moment (for me, the first two I flipped to were “Foods to Avoid and Not” and “Forbidden Activities”.  Is it just me or as soon as you’re told you can’t/shouldn’t eat or do something, that’s all you want to do? 

The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Dr. Oscar Serrallach

The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Dr. Oscar Serrallach

This book covers the physical and emotional changes you can expect after your baby arrives and well into your motherhood years.  I couldn’t get past how many people casually mentioned ‘baby brain’ and advised me to “sleep while you can now”.  This book lays out the practical reality of childbirth and postpartum and how postnatal depletion is the root cause of our forgetfulness, exhaustion, and daily emotional rollercoasters.  This is the information you wish you had before you gave birth.  It’s the information that will serve you for many years to come if you address the depletion your body and brain have experienced just by being pregnant and giving birth.  

Fair Play by Eve Rodsky

Fair Play by Eve Rodsky

This is an absolute must-read for EVERY woman in a relationship.  It is especially useful to read before a baby arrives to reinforce your relationship and your routines.  This book changed the way I thought of my role as a woman in society and made me question some of the norms I held in place simply because I had seen the women in my life take on particular roles for decades.  This truly has been the foundation for understanding my contribution to my relationship with my husband and how we create a life we both love without feeling resentful towards one another.

Cribsheet by Emily Oster

Cribsheet by Emily Oster

This is the opposite of scare-tactics or ‘you must parent in this particular way 100% of the time advice.  The follow up to ‘Expecting Better’, this book examines topics like circumcision, potty training and when to conceive your next child without passing judgement.  You can count on Emily Oster to use data to illustrate her points and show you the bigger picture, regardless of which tough decision you have to make next. 

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Dr. Sarah Buckley

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Dr. Sarah Buckley

The stories in this book inspired me to seek (and achieve) an undisturbed birthing experience.  It gave me the confidence to advocate for myself, and to understand my options.  Topics covered include home birthing, how to have the best possible cesarean experience (if it’s needed), and being induced for going past your due date.  Prior to reading this book, I thought I was a passenger in my birth experience and that the medical professionals were the drivers. I learned how to understand my options and advocate for myself with the stories and insights shared by Dr. Buckley. 

The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson

The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson

I read this a few weeks after our daughter was born, but I wish I would have read it in the 3rd trimester as I would have prepared for those early days a little differently.  This eye-opening book shows us the benefit of preparing for those early days of motherhood as a woman – not just as a mother, and focusing on our own well being and experience and not just the well-being of our babies.

Mindful Hypnobirthing by Sophie Fletcher

Mindful Hypnobirthing by Sophie Fletcher

This was my husband’s go-to for child-birth prep.  We used it to create a calm and confident mindset for childbirth, and I’ve continued to practice the mindfulness techniques I learned in times of stress.

The Doula’s Guide to Empowering Your Birth by Lindsey Bliss

The Doula’s Guide to Empowering Your Birth by Lindsey Bliss

Regardless of what kind of childbirth you’re hoping to have, this book is a great tool to help you understand your birth preferences and how to advocate for yourself in all medical appointments during pregnancy and afterwards.  It does lean more towards non-medicated birthing preferences, but the concepts for self-advocating are entirely relatable to any type of birth preference.