Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From one mama to another: book recommendations

My friend Suzy Popchicks (not her real name) asked me if I had any book recommendations for a potentially-pregnant lady. Wellllll, yes. Of course, I took it over-seriously and hashed out an entire list of recommendations.

  1. Natural Family Living: The Mothering Magazine Guide to Parenting - Peggy O'Mara: It has been awhile since I looked at this book, but I appreciated it for its "natural" and holistic look at parenting - from childbirth and nursing to night waking and first foods. She also talks about "alternative medicine", which not many parenting books cover. I especially appreciated that at the time.
  2. The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two - Dr. Sears: As an overview to babies and parenting, I thought this book was very good. Helpful and extremely thorough.
  3. The Happiest Baby on the Block - Harvey Karp: There were a few things that I didn't agree with in this book (an example: the author claims that babies should never be nursed lying down - pshaw, what a laugh!) but overall, I found it very insightful. Both my boys, but especially Diego, loved being swaddled as babies - it really calmed them down. The 5 S's - Swaddling, Side/Stomach Positions, Shushing, Swinging, Sucking - helped me gain a greater understanding of how to soothe my babies. I didn't have it from experience, but I learned quickly with a jumpstart from the information in this book.


  1. Vaccinations: The Thoughtful Parents' Guide - Aviva-Jill Romm: Out of everything, this is the book I wish I would have read before giving birth. Vaccinations are heralded as all-important in our society. But the truth is, there are a lot of extremely complicated factors that go into the decision to vaccinate. Contrary to how vaccinations are presented, you, the parent, actually have a choice in this matter: whether to forgo, go with a delayed schedule, or pick and choose what is right for your child based on your own research. You will be pressed from the very start to begin vaccinations (I'm not kidding: it will be immediate. It starts with the Hepatitis B vaccine the day or day after the babe is born in a hospital-based birth). Romm's book was the most balanced presentation of the history of vaccinations, pros and cons, and most importantly, the choices we have as parents. In my opinion, it is best to go into the decision to vaccinate with eyes wide open.
  2. Naturally Healthy Babies and Children - Aviva-Jill Romm: I reference this book regularly. It really helped qualm my fears of, "What do I do when...?" It has an A-Z listing of ailments with practical advice on how to deal with it. I cleared the only ear infection we have ever had in this household (a double, at that) with garlic oil and hot compresses. A fever needs to be assisted, not quelled; and so on and so forth. It has empowered me to take my children's health in my own hands, with a great sense of peace.


  1. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats - Sally Fallon: If only for the general nutritional overview at the very beginning, this book would be very good to check out. For the first time in my life, a nutritional paradigm made sense to me -- I feel like it gave direction to my already-existent "whole foods" outlook. Plus, with little ones, you are entirely responsible for their health and well-being. Kids don't have to live on chicken nuggets and mac'n'cheese (and other "food-like substances"). Introduce them to a wide variety as wee ones and they'll eat what you eat. The "kid's menu" at most slow-fast food restaurants? Total junk.
  2. Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health - Toni Weschler: If you haven't already learned about all your female reproductive organs and how they work, do it now. It is fascinating. I was angered (though 'anguished' might be a more apt term) by learning "everything" at the ripe age of 31. Things would have made so much more sense if I had "only known". Sheesh.
  3. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding - Gwen Gotsch: I haven't actually read this book, but have heard a lot about it. I imagine it is a very good introduction to breastfeeding for the otherwise uninitiated.
  4. PUSHED: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care - Jennifer Block: This book is fascinating and particularly important for those who don't feel "quite right" about the current medicalized model of birth. I had inklings before my first babe, but didn't have any direction or true experience until I was thrust into it. I honestly don't know if it would have resonated with me pre-babies, but when I read it in the spring of 2008, it struck many-a-chord. A very important read. I was unimpressed with her comparison of birthing rights with access to abortion at the very end, but otherwise her observations throughout the whole of the book are extremely astute.

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