Mama Reads: A Reading Guide for Expecting Mamas Updated

One of the first things I felt when I learned that I was becoming a mama, was that I didn’t know much. I had babysat in high school and college and even nannied post-college a bit, but when it came to pregnancy, labor, and raising a child I didn’t know where to begin. 

Not only that, but between working over 40 hours/week and everything else we have going on, I didn’t feel like I had time to read tons of books or just any random books I may have come across. So, finding just a few books that other trusted mamas recommended was so helpful! I’m still in the reading/learning phase (and think I will be my whole life 😉 ) but here are a few books that I have found to be game changers as an expecting mama.

Bringing up Bebe: This was the first book I read and such a thought-provoking introduction to the idea of parenting that I very much needed. Not a manual on how to raise your kids but an easy to read collection of thoughts and stories from an American mother and British father raising their children in Paris. They notice the differences in American parenting vs. how the French raise their children and while much of it just seems like good parenting, it was really helpful to read. Let’s just say, I will be saying “be sage” to my son and implementing “the pause” in our day to day life. (Category of reading: Child raising philosophy)

Husband Coached Childbirth: We were introduced to this book through our Bradley Method Birth Class and while some of it feels a little out of date, the principles for pregnancy health and labor/delivery have been so helpful. Matt and I have completely changed my exercising, eating, and preparations for labor as a result of this book and class.  (Category of reading: pregnancy, labor & delivery)

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding: When I started reading this book, I had no idea that the Bradley Method (authors behind Husband Coached Labor) and the La Leche League (authors of this book) were so tied together. It turns out, those who are big fans of breastfeeding are also big fans of natural childbirth for many reasons and the two groups can often be found quoting and referencing each other. This is more like a manual for breastfeeding, so I’ve only made it one third of the way through, but it explains so much when it comes to your newborn’s health, tips and trouble shooting for mama and so much more. This is one I would recommend buying because it has helpful pages in the back to document your newborn’s feedings, pooping, etc. Sounds a little over the top, but when I’m in those first few weeks of “is my newborn eating enough?” I think it will be a lifesaver. The Bradley Method suggests that each mama go to a La Leche group meeting (free and often near where you live) prior to delivery, and I found it to be very helpful and a resource I will certainly be using in the future.  (Category of reading: breastfeeding, newborn care)

Natural ChildBirth the Bradley Way: If you become interested in having a natural childbirth, this book is very descriptive on the various stages of labor and how mama and papa can work together to have a natural (no intervention or medicine) labor and delivery. The specifics in this book were helpful for us as I wrote a Labor Study Sheet for Matt so he can be fully prepared to coach me through labor as my doula. (If that concept sounds crazy to you, look out for my future post on our Bradley Method Birth Class 🙂 )  (Category of reading: labor/delivery)

As I said, I’m still on my own journey of learning and so the following are books I have either begun to read or plan to read that have been recommended highly.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth: Ina May is a friend of Dr. Bradley’s and also a proponent of natural childbirth. While I’ve already read two books on labor, this one has been recommended highly so I’m going to try reading it in my last 6 weeks of pregnancy and will report back. (Category of reading: labor/delivery)

On Becoming Baby Wise: This one I am very excited to read in these next 6 weeks because it is all about the sleep and schedule of your baby. It has been recommended to me by multiple trusted friends and I’m excited to have this knowledge fresh in my mind for when baby boy arrives. (Category of reading: newborn care)

UPDATE now that I’m three months into this whole mama thing 😉 :

Ina May’s Guide (listed above) was so helpful for labor. It had been about 3 months between my Bradley Method course and giving birth, and I was feeling a little rusty on everything I had learned–Ina May put me right back into the labor mindset. She had a phrase that stuck with me during labor where she essentially said that she had never seen a woman die from the pain of a contraction and so it was possible to endure. Those words were honestly very helpful when I was in transition. Definitely a must-read.

On Becoming Baby Wise (listed above) was also very helpful. It’s not quite as specific as I’d like but the schedule rhythms for parent-directed feeding have been great. Aiden has really thrived in these rhythms and started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks so I highly recommend. I’m also still using the schedule rhythms for each week-stage Aiden is in, and I’m excited to read Baby Wise Two in the near future.

Two new books I want to add to the list:

The Happy Sleeper: This book provided the necessary detail that was missing in Baby Wise and gave me some great info on sleep environment and bed-time routines. I plan to re-read when Aiden gets into the next sleep phase at five months. (Category of reading: newborn care)

Brain Rules for Baby: My parents got this one for us. It was written by scientist, John Medina who kept getting asked the same questions by parents: how can I make my baby happy, smart, moral, sleep through the night, etc. He takes science and studies and puts them into layman’s terms while correcting myths and affirming what is true of parenting. I don’t really agree with his chapter on sleep and prefer Baby Wise and The Happy Sleeper for that, but other things have been very helpful. For instance, he writes that the number one thing you could do to help your baby’s IQ (aside from genetics) is breastfeed, and he shows the studies to support it. Made me quite encouraged to persevere after the rocky start to breastfeeding that Aiden and I had. (Category of reading: newborn care, pregnancy)

So there you have it! Between pregnancy, labor/delivery, breastfeeeding, newborn care and overall parenting philosophy, I’d say these 6 8 books are bound to get you started on your journey to becoming new parents. 

What about you? Any other great mama-reads you’d recommend?

2 thoughts on “Mama Reads: A Reading Guide for Expecting Mamas Updated

  1. I recommend “The Happy Sleeper”, I read all of these books and liked most except for Baby Wise. It left me with more questions and frustration in lack of detail and The Happy Sleeper is much more modern and a balanced approach.

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