Finding Pregnancy and Parenting Resources
Do you feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of opinions, facts, websites, or books available? When we began our own journey through motherhood, we did. We have been able to spend time evaluating resources as part of our job and we’re glad to share our favorites with you.
Are all pregnancy resources created equally?
In short, no. How should do we evaluate one? We think the best way is by considering what its recommendations are based on. Is this someone’s opinion or is it based on evidence from many diverse experiences? The more evidence-based you get, the better you can feel that your choices are based on facts, not opinions.
Evidence based birth – We use this one when we are looking for a thorough explanation for the evidence for and against a birth practice (we most recently read this great article about inductions for going beyond your due date). It includes links to the original articles/studies so you can fact check what their statements are based upon.
Mayo Clinic – We use this website to primarily look up procedures, interventions, and medications. We like this one because it breaks down into easily understood categories. So for example, if you look up cesarean birth, the headings are “definition”, “why it is done”, “risks”, “how you prepare”, and “what to expect”. The publishers knows most people who read it are not medical professionals and avoid jargon that can pop up on other websites.
Science and Sensibility, the blog run by Lamaze International. We use this one when we are looking for an overview with lots of links on a topic or to follow current birth culture trends. Lamaze International makes a point of giving evidence-based advice and has a long reputation as a brand.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. Ina May Gaskin is one of the nation’s most well-known midwives who follows and advocates for the midwifery care model. One cool thing about this book is that the first half is all birth stories.
The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for for Dads, Doulas, and Other Labor Companions by Penny Simkin. It is an excellent explanation of what to expect if your loved one is pregnant and ways you can help. We feel it is more geared towards families who want at least some portion of labor to be unmedicated (no pain meds!) as it has lots of comfort measures listed in detail. Disclaimer: This is one Hillary read for her doula training and is published by one of the founders for DONA International, of which she is a member.
So we struggled with this one. We liked Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected Journey to Motherhood by Naomi Wolf for describing the personal/emotional journey but we can’t make it our only resource because we didn’t feel like it discussed the physical recovery of the postpartum period.
We haven’t read it yet but we have heard great things about Natural Health After Birth: The Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellness by Aviva Romm. The author is a physician, herbalist, and homebirth midwife. According to one of the reviews, “this book is intuitive, down-to-earth, and full of sage wisdom from a homebirth midwife and physician about every aspect of postpartum healing. Aviva really spells out some of the more nuanced changes that happen after your baby comes into your life, and, to be honest, this book transformed my expectations and was a treasure during those rough first weeks.” So needless to say, reading this book is on our To-Do List.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by LaLeche League International. This is a comprehensive breastfeeding resource full of evidence that includes troubleshooting tips and advice. But we will add a disclaimer on this one. It feels as though it is written with a stay-at-home, exclusively breastfeeding mother as the norm and then compares everything to that. It is very reassuring if you are 100% committed and available to breastfeeding. But it can feel a little “judge-y” if you are still weighing your options, can’t or choose not to breastfeed, must or choose to return to work early, etc. We still recommend it as our #1 breastfeeding resource, though, because the information is so solid and it includes numerous additional resources for each section.
Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. We like this resource because it gives hands-on, easy to follow steps for infant soothing. Another disclaimer, this may be influenced by our own postpartum experience; after 3 nights of 2 hours of sleep, he starts sounding like a baby whisperer.