Pregnancy and Parenting Book Recommendations
Copyright © 1996-2004 Kmom@Vireday.Com. All rights reserved.
This FAQ last updated: May 2004
Purpose of This List
These are some pregnancy and parenting book recommendations to get you started on your road to being a well-informed medical consumer and a terrific parent. Of course, opinions on things like parenting issues and childbirth management vary widely and tend to be quite emotional, so don't expect to agree with these choices one hundred percent!
This is by no means a complete list, so check with other sources as well. It's just meant to give you a short list of 'getting-started' books. There are so many pregnancy and parenting books out there that you can waste a lot of time and money finding a good one. The point of this list is to give you one set of books that would be a good place to start your research from, but you will have to take it from there. The Internet newsgroup misc.kids has a number of FAQs and sites devoted to reviewing various parenting/ pregnancy books, so you may want to go there next if you want to find out about other titles.
List Selection and Biases
Any list of good parenting/pregnancy books is going to be influenced by the author's values. This list was first compiled by polling several parenting groups for their favorite books on these subjects. Since these parenting lists were organized around the ideas of either extended breastfeeding, attachment parenting, or size-acceptance issues, these biases will be reflected strongly in these book choices. The list was then extensively added to by Kmom, based on her research and reading, and certainly reflects her beliefs in natural childbirth, breastfeeding, size-acceptance, and the importance of becoming informed medical consumers.
Remember, not everyone will agree with every choice listed, which is fine. As you begin reading, you will find your own favorites. Take it from there.
Nearly all these books (plus many hard-to-find or out-of-print books) can also be ordered from the Birth and Life Bookstore (a division of Cascade HealthCare Products, Inc.), 141 Commercial Street NE, Salem, OR 97301. Orders can be placed online at www.1cascade.com, by faxing (503) 371-5395, or calling 1 (800) 443-9942. This fine organization also carries many videos and even childbirth education visual teaching aids, and Kmom gives this company her highest recommendation. (No, she is not associated with it in any way and does not receive kickbacks!) If you have to choose one company to order from first, start with this one.
Many books can be ordered through Amazon Books on the World-Wide Web, available at http://www.amazon.com. Books marked with an asterisk are available from the La Leche League International Catalogue. The complete catalogue can be linked to on the Web at http://www.lalecheleague.org/.
Other companies that may have individual books that are harder to find include:
Why The 'What To Expect' Series Is Not On This List
The What to Expect series by Eisenberg, Hathaway, and Murkoff is one of the most commonly-used parenting series these days, which is really a reflection of its marketing more than the quality of its parenting advice.
However, it is not without merits. Its chief benefits are a homey, chatty style that addresses the worries of women in pregnancy, something many more medically-oriented texts fail to do. It also tends to be very good at looking at a wide variety of concerns, and does contain some sensible advice. Some of its best features are the medical quick-reference section and developmental charts in the later parenting books.
However, its breastfeeding advice overall is very poor and quite outdated in some parts, it tends to be extremely accepting of medical interventions which many childbirth advocates feel are unnecessary, and many larger people find it to be very fat-phobic.
Furthermore, some of its parenting philosophies (such as promoting 'crying it out' after a certain age) do not agree with those from the lists that were polled, so naturally it did not receive many recommendations. In fact, many people requested that it specifically be mentioned as a poor choice. A few facetiously call it the "What to Feel Guilty About" or the "What to Fear When You're Expecting" series, but it has just as many ardent defenders as detractors (just not on the lists we polled!).
Kmom feels it is a series worth reading as long as you have other and better childbirth information sources, take their opinions with a big grain of salt, ignore the rampant fat-phobia, are aware of their highly pro-childbirth intervention stance, and NEVER RELY ON IT FOR BREASTFEEDING ADVICE. Don't use it as your ONLY or most authoritative source, but when used in conjunction with other sources, it may have some value. But it's definitely not one of Kmom's most-recommended books. Of course, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)!
Using This List Effectively
The best approach is to read a number of books to get varying philosophies and then decide on which ones you agree with and pursue further books by these authors. If you don't want to buy lots of books, try checking your local library to see if they are available to check out (selection tends to be dated) or go to a La Leche meeting and check out books on loan (a great way to read a selection of quality literature for free!).
When you find a good parenting book, buy it so you can have a quick reference at home. If you plan to breastfeed, you should also plan to buy a really good breastfeeding book for quick home reference (and take it to the hospital or birthing center with you). The Medela positioning video (see below) from La Leche would also be a good investment to have on hand if you can afford a few extra bucks, but it can be checked out from most La Leche groups for a couple of dollars.
Kmom's top picks under each category are put first in each list, and each list is generally in order of preference. If you only have the money to buy a few books, Kmom would recommend these books over the others:
All of these are valuable companions for any home library and contain a wealth of good, easily accessible information. These books are all top choices among most parenting groups Kmom is on. However, as with any book recommendations, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).
Books on Pregnancy in Women of Size
Carrying A Little Extra: A Guide to Healthy Pregnancy For The Plus-Size Woman. Paula Bernstein, MD, PhD. With Marlene Clark, RD, and Netty Levine, MS, RD. New York: Berkley Books. 2003.
Well-intentioned but very disappointing book about pregnancy in obese women, primarily written by an OB/GYN who is a mid-sized woman herself, although obviously one with a lot of weight issues still. Pays only brief lip service to the idea that plus-sized women can have healthy pregnancies and babies. Instead, spends most of the book strongly emphasizing possible complications in women of size and instilling fear into the reader.
Only stories of complications and problems are presented, and only cesarean birth stories are told, hardly a well-balanced approach. Normal pregnancy and births in women of size are almost completely ignored. This book should be subtitled, "What to Fear If You Are a Big Mom" and "How To Prepare For Your Cesarean Because God Knows You're Too High Risk to Birth Normally." If Kmom had read this book when she was first pregnant, she would never have believed that a normal pregnancy and birth were possible at her size, and she would have had second thoughts about ever having another child! Although the author's intentions were probably good, this is not an empowering or positive book to read.
The first half of the book is a summary of the possible risks of pregnancy in larger women. This is certainly important information that should not be ignored or minimized, but the author over-emphasizes it. Many big women DO have normal pregnancies and births, but you'd never know it from her summary. The author does do an excellent job of simplifying research for the layperson, and she does mention PCOS, which many authors omit. Those are both good points about the book. However, she presents mostly the research with the worst possible risk profiles, ignoring the studies that shows better outcomes. Her focus is on how high-risk plus-size moms are and how they need to be constantly monitored by tons of tests and extra technology, without acknowledging that these extra tests and technology present risks too. Big moms need to be informed of the risk/benefit tradeoffs of these tests so they can make an informed decision about using them, not be scared into them by exaggerated risk profiles.
Like many midsized women struggling with their own weight issues, the author has her own sizism about those who are "truly obese." In her view (as shown by her writing), if the midsized mother is at risk for problems, then the supersized mother is a walking time-bomb. She feels that supersized women should see an obstetrician AND a nutritionist AND a perinatologist, a ridiculous overreaction. Supersized women with a normal pregnancy and no preexisting problems do NOT need to see a high-risk OB specialist simply because of their size, and seeing "high risk" specialists may actually subject the supersized mom to far more risk and poorer outcomes in many cases. And nowhere does the author mention the advantages of seeing a midwife or hiring a doula. She is obviously comes from a very high-intervention, technology-worshipping mindset. Technology can be very useful in some situations, but it can also do more harm than good at times too, when applied unwisely or unnecessarily. Nowhere is that point made, however. Technology is only presented as beneficial and benign, when in reality it can be harmful too.
The second half of the book is written by two average-sized registered dieticians who give information about nutrition for larger women in pregnancy. Although carb-heavy, the guidelines are generally sensible and contain some decent information. However, the tone is very patronizing, as if women of size can't be trusted to eat properly on their own and must be constantly lectured to avoid gaining too much weight in pregnancy. A brief, minimal nod to breastfeeding is presented, but is certainly not strongly promoted and no practical hints for breastfeeding success are given. They end the book by promoting a diet for big women to follow postpartum, not exactly a size-friendly approach.
Although all the authors almost certainly meant well, their unconscious size-phobic attitudes come through clearly. The book overemphasizes the risks of plus-size pregnancy, presents only stories of complications and surgical births, talks down to big moms, and doesn't even address many of the other needs of plus-size moms (like where to find clothes and equipment in plus sizes, how to find size-friendly medical personnel, and dealing with negativity from friends and family). The book is not all bad, but on balance this is not a book to reassure or empower plus-sized women who want to become parents. Kmom does NOT recommend this book.
NOT REVIEWED YET:
PLUS SIZE PREGNANCY: How to Thrive and Survive in Your Plus Size Pregnancy. Available from www.plussizepregnancy.com. $19.99 plus $6 shipping and handling.
This book has not yet been reviewed by Kmom. Based on the website, it doesn't look too promising. Little information is given about the book except for a few brief descriptions, no author is really listed, no qualifications for the author are given, the website is not very professionally done, and the book seems very pricey for what other big moms have reported to be a small booklet. Although it's possible this may be a little gem waiting to be discovered, it's probably not worth spending money on.
Recommended Books On Trying To Conceive
Taking Charge of Your Fertility, Toni Weschler. New York: Harper Perennial Library, 1995.
Superb book on maximizing your fertility, knowing if/when you are ovulating, and hints on conceiving. If you are not yet pregnant, it is very important for you to get this book and begin charting temperatures, mucus, etc. Excellent resource! A must-read if you are trying.
PREGNANCY MANUALS - guides to help women through pregnancy stages/concerns and in making birthing decisions. See additional reading for other pertinent pregnancy readings
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, Henci Goer. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group (A Perigee Book). 1999. Available from Cutting Edge Press, (802)635-2142, or www.childbirth.org/CEP/.
Outstanding book on making important childbirth decisions like inductions, dealing with epidurals, handling slow labors, VBAC vs. repeat cesarean, birthing location choices, breech, etc. First half of book is no-nonsense guide to looking at the pros and cons of various birthing issues; second half of book is a detailed medical reference section, discussing the studies that apply to these issues and analyzing the results. Couples can choose to use simply the non-technical straightforward summaries in the first half of the book, they can delve into the medical studies and analysis in the second half, or they can dip in and out of both as needed. Although the author has definite opinions on the issues and expresses them, she also presents fairly the arguments for both sides and most importantly, gives hints on maximizing outcome if an intervention (like induction) is chosen. A MUST-READ!
Birthing From Within, Pam England and Rob Horowitz. Albuquerque, New Mexico: Partera Press, 1998. Also available at their website, www.birthingfromwithin.com.
This book is more holistic, encompassing both technical information and emotional preparation. For sheer user-friendliness, this is the better book, but Kmom strongly recommends also understanding technical details of birthing choices by using the other books in conjunction with this one. Some readers may be uncomfortable with the art and self-discovery exercises contained within. Still, has numerous examples of birthing art and how this reveals mothers' anxieties and concerns, and has suggestions for working through the concerns. Also has excellent information on coping with labor, the advantages of natural childbirth, the compassionate use of drugs and epidurals, and "gestating parenthood". Highly recommended.
The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, Sheila Kitzinger. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.
One of the better childbirth and pregnancy book currently available. Excellent, sensible approach to pregnancy and childbirth. Great pictures, great advice on handling various labor scenarios, discourages interventions without being too preachy yet also fairly presents information on using interventions. Recommended.
A Good Birth, A Safe Birth: Choosing and Having the Childbirth Experience You Want, Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer. 3rd Rev. Ed. Boston: Harvard Common Press, 1992.
A very good childbirth book, though a tad heavy on rhetoric in places. Emphasizes being a very well-educated medical consumer and definitely discourages most interventions. However, don't let the rhetoric scare you off, even if you are not sure that natural childbirth is for you. Has excellent information and documentation which will be valuable no matter what you decide. Recommended, but The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth has more updated information and practical advice.
Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way, Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg and Peter Rosegg. Rev. ed. New York: Plume, 1996. *http://www.lalecheleague.org/
Book that gives background and information for the childbirth education series. Emphasizes nutrition, natural childbirth and alternatives/preventions for common childbirth interventions. Also coaches the husband in how to be an effective labor coach and addresses his concerns and needs as well. (Some of the other Bradley books can be pretty patronizing, so Kmom doesn't really recommend them but the childbirth class series is very good; she highly recommends Birth Works or Bradley classes over standard hospital childbirth classes. For more info on these classes, contact www.birthworks.org or 1-888-TO-BIRTH, and www.bradleybirth.com or 1-800-4A-BIRTH.)
The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth, William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1994. *http://www.lalecheleague.org/
A very good pregnancy book emphasizing non-interventive childbirth but with information about pain medication options and other interventions. Much better choice than their subsequent The Pregnancy Book (which is more intervention-happy and has some fat-phobic remarks in it). Recommended.
ADDITIONAL VALUABLE PREGNANCY READING - not pregnancy manuals, but discussions of the politics of birthing, honest assessments of the risks/benefits of common interventions, history of birthing practices, birthing attendant options, and other pertinent birthing information
Obstetric Myths vs. Research Realities: A Guide to the Medical Literature, Henci Goer. Westport, Connecticut: Bergin and Garvey, 1995. Can be ordered online from http://www.efn.org/~djz/birth/obmyth/. Reportedly, a new edition will be coming out soon with even more of the latest research.
An alternative look at common OB practices such as labor induction, no food during labor, repeat C-sections, episiotomies, etc., and whether the medical research literature really supports their use. Excellent source! Fascinating look at research; *very* thorough yet readable by the lay person. Superb chapter on gestational diabetes! Author has a few size-phobic assumptions, but overall is fine. Not a pregnancy guide or manual, but an extremely valuable additional resource to your favorite pregnancy guide. Highest recommendation.
Immaculate Deception II: Myth, Magic, and Birth, Suzanne Arms. Berkely, California: Celestial Arts, 1994.
A look at normal childbirth and the history of birthing; an examination of common medical practices. Also extensively addresses the issues of pain and fear in birth. The prequel to this book was a classic in reforming childbirth in the USA. An excellent addition to a reading list, but is not a stand-alone pregnancy manual. Definitely non-interventionist in approach. Recommended.
Gentle Birth Choices (book and/or video). Barbara Harper. Put out by Global Maternal/Child Health Association, Inc. P.O. Box 1400, Wilsonville, OR 97070. (503) 682-3600 or 1 (800) 641-BABY. www.waterbirth.org
Beautiful video detailing 6 births under varying conditions, including homebirth, waterbirth, posterior labor, standing birth, squatting birth, Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, etc. Commentary between birthing scenes is mostly good but sometimes annoying; even so, the video is WELL-worth seeing! Generally quite inexpensive compared to most birth videos; also available through Birth and Life Bookstore. Recommended.
Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth, Marshall H. Klaus, M.D., John H. Kennell, M.D., and Phyllis H. Klaus. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1993.
An introduction to the topic of professional labor assistants ("doulas") and how they can help you to an easier birth. Cites medical studies that show *amazing* reductions in c-sections, epidurals, and complications among women who have professional doulas at their births. Discusses concerns of the husband, what to look for in a doula, and how to find one. An excellent resource---definitely recommended! One of the BEST things you can do for your labor, regardless of your choices regarding natural childbirth or use of pain meds, is to hire a doula. DO IT. (There is more information about doulas under the "Finding a Size-Friendly Provider" section of this website.) Recommended.
Silent Knife: Cesarean Prevention and Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, Nancy Wainer Cohen and Lois J. Estner. South Hadley, Massachusetts: Bergin and Garvey Publishers, Inc., 1983.
Classic alternative look at C-section prevention and VBAC births. Folksy, filled with rhetoric, and a bit dated, but still good reading. Excellent if you are trying to avoid a C-section for your first birth or if you have had a previous C-section. Its "Mindscapes" chapter on emotional issues that can interfere with a good childbirth experience is also extremely insightful, well worth reading! A good addition to a reading list but remember that it's a bit dated and the emotions from the women are raw, as often happens after an unnecessary c-section. Great for emotional recovery after a c-section and familiarizing yourself with c-section issues; can also be useful for women looking to prevent a 1st c-section.
Birth As an American Rite of Passage, Dr. Robbie Davis-Floyd. 1992. Complete book available from Birth and Life Bookstore; excerpts available online at www.itp.tsoa.nyu.edu/~alumni/birthmessages.
Excellent sociological view of how American culture ritualizes birth and how many of the procedures most women encounter are actually not always medically necessary but culturally imposed---an analysis of the technocratic model of birth. *Fascinating* reading!
Your Pregnancy Week-By-Week, Glade B. Curtis. Tucson, Arizona: Fisher Books, 1994.
A week by week guide to your developing fetus. Lots of fun to help keep track of your baby's progress!
The Nursing Mother's Companion, Kathleen Huggins. Fourth Edition. Boston: Harvard Common Press, 1999.
THE best breastfeeding guide around. Easy-to-use, quick-reference format, especially good for trouble-shooting problems quickly. One of the few bfing books to adequately cover coping with larger breasts, using the football hold, etc. If you plan to breastfeed, BUY THIS BOOK and take it to the hospital with you! Highly recommended.
"Breastfeeding Your Baby: Positioning" (video), Medela Inc. #610, (800) 435-8316. *http://www.lalecheleague.org/
Excellent short video that demonstrates different positions in detail, and common mistakes to watch for. One of the few videos to adequately cover the 'football hold', a hold many larger women find best. A must-see for any well-endowed woman who plans to breastfeed. Often available for check-out through local La Leche League lending libraries. Highly recommended.
So That's What They're For! Breastfeeding Basics, Janet Tamaro. Holbrook, Massachusetts: Adams Media Corporation, 1996. *http://www.lalecheleague.org/
Another excellent guide to breastfeeding, but more light-hearted in tone. If you are not sure whether or not to breastfeed, or if someone in your family needs convincing to support your decision to breastfeed, this is the book to get. Great analogies to explain the physiology of breastfeeding. A bit fat-phobic in spots, but still a very helpful reference, well worth reading. Highly recommended.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, La Leche League International. New Edition, Revised and Updated. Schaumberg, Illinois: La Leche League International, 1997. *http://www.lalecheleague.org/
Classic LLL reference. Somewhat preachy in spots, and not as good for quick problem-solving, but it's still an invaluable resource. The section on medical benefits to breastfeeding is unsurpassed and a MUST-read. Be sure to get the *new* version, just out in 1997. Highly recommended, but not quite as highly as the first two.
Breastfeeding Your Baby, Sheila Kitzinger. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995.
Lots of excellent photos and hints for breastfeeding. Good as an additional source, but not as an only source. Any book by Sheila Kitzinger in any childbirth field is worth reading.
The Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning, Kathleen Huggins and Linda Ziedrich. Boston: Harvard Common Press, 1994. *http://www.lalecheleague.org/
Every nursing mother will wean at some point, some early, some later. This book can help you decide when it's right for you and your baby, how best to do it humanely, and if formula supplementation is necessary how to handle it. If you plan to supplement with formula at some point, this book is for you. Even if you plan to nurse for an extended period and never use formula, this book can help you handle the resultant weaning issues particular to extended nursing. Excellent. Recommended.
Recommended Books for Emotional Preparation for Birth
*Pregnancy and birth are major rites of passage in life, and quite often bring up tremendous life issues to be dealt with. "As women live, so they will birth," to paraphrase one very astute midwife saying. Whatever family issues, abuse issues, trust, body, self-esteem, and control issues you have in life will also carry over into your pregnancy and parenting. Kmom feels that this is particularly true for many larger women, who may have developed a profound lack of trust in their bodies over years of dieting and weight yo-yoing. This may be one powerful psychological reason why large women have higher rates of c-sections.
Pregnancy, birth, and motherhood is a MAJOR opportunity in your life to heal past emotional baggage and move on with your life. Kmom feels it is *vitally* important to do one's 'emotional homework' throughout the pregnancy process, and that this often improves birth outcomes. She strongly feels that not enough attention is paid to this by providers and childbirth educators, and strongly urges readers of this FAQ to pursue emotional preparation for birth as carefully as physical and intellectual preparation for it. (Also see above entry on Birthing From Within.) That doesn't mean you have to be perfectly emotionally healed in order to have a great birth, but that just looking at the issues often facilitates an easier birth.
Transformation Through Childbirth: A Woman's Guide, Claudia Panuthos. Westport, Connecticut: Bergin & Garvey, 1984. Available from Cascade Press/Birth and Life Bookstore - (503) 371-4445 or (800) 443-9942.
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS on emotional preparation for or recovery from birth; in fact, probably the best overall book on pregnancy and birthing that Kmom has read to date. Highest recommendation! Unfortunately, out-of-print now, but Birth and Life Bookstore/Cascade Press has a few left.
Birthing From Within, Pam England and Rob Horowitz. Albuquerque, New Mexico: Partera Press, 1998. Also available at their website, www.birthpower.com.
Holistic birth book, encompassing both technical information and emotional preparation. Some readers may be uncomfortable with the art and self-discovery exercises contained within. Still, has numerous examples of birthing art and how this reveals mothers' anxieties and concerns, and has suggestions for working through the concerns. Also has excellent information on coping with labor, the advantages of natural childbirth, the compassionate use of drugs and epidurals, and "gestating parenthood". Highly recommended.
Creating A Joyful Birth Experience, Lucia Capacchione and Sandra Bardsley. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc. (A Fireside Book). 1994. Out of print but still available from www.waterbirth.org.
Hard-to-find book but well worth looking for. Definitely a bit 'new-age' for some people's preferences; uses journaling with your non-dominant hand for exploring feelings and issues, which will alienate some people. However, has many good exercises and excellent ideas for preparing for birth. If you can open your mind to trying some very 'crunchy' mental and emotional exercises, they are often quite revealing and helpful, and the guided imagery is also useful. Also highly recommended!
Pregnant Feelings: Developing Trust in Birth, Rahima Baldwin and T. Palmarini Richardson. 1986. Available from Birth and Life Bookstore - (503) 371-4445 or (800) 443-9942.
Also helpful in preparing emotionally for childbirth. Workbook format, with lots of writing exercises and exploration activities. A bit hokey at times---women are encouraged to dialogue with their 'Birthing Energy', which many will disdain or feel far too silly trying to do---but the basics of the book are quite valuable and insightful. Recommended.
An Easier Childbirth: A Mother's Guide for Birthing Normally, by Gayle Peterson, PhD. Berkely, California: Shadow and Light Publications, 1993. Available from Cascade Press/Birth and Life Bookstore - (503) 371-4445 or (800) 443-9942. Also available from www.amazon.com.
Cascade's catalogue lists this as "A mother's workbook for health and emotional well-being during pregnancy and delivery. Focuses on exploring and resolving emotional issues during pregnancy through guided imagery, visualization, and journal keeping." Deals extensively with learned attitudes towards pregnancy from cultural influences, your own birth circumstances, and family attitudes. Also has a great deal on coping with labor, dealing with pain and surrendering to birth, etc. A strong emphasis on journaling and inner dialogues, which is uncomfortable to some, but still a good tool for learning and growth. Also recommended. Author also has an audiotape that is excellent for pregnancy; one side is relaxation and affirmations and concentrates on bonding with baby. The other side is a guided imagery tour of birth, which is really powerful and excellent. The book is good but the tape is really excellent. Buy it if you can.
Recommended Books for Emotional Recovery From Birth
Rebounding From Childbirth: Toward Emotional Recovery, Lynn Madsen. Westport, Connecticut: Bergin and Garvey, 1994. Available from www.amazon.com.
SUPERB book about recovering emotionally from childbirth and pregnancy. Good for recovery from c-sections or any difficult birth. A bit flakey and 'New Age' in a few parts, but overall is just excellent. Highly recommended!
*Transformation Through Birth is also an effective book in this category; Silent Knife is good for those who have had c-sections.
Recommended Books on VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)
*Note: A greatly expanded list (including videos and audiotapes) of Great VBAC Resources is available on this site.
The VBAC Companion: The Expectant Mother's Guide to Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, Diana Korte. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Common Press, 1997.
The best book on VBAC around! Considers the issues, fears, concerns of women considering VBACs, but is not preachy. Is open to a woman choosing an elective repeat section if she desires and is well-informed, but obviously of course it states the case for VBACs strongly. Excellent section on helping with specific labor problems such as posterior labors, and also contains some advice on overcoming labor fears and barriers. Strongly emphasizes the likelihood of getting a VBAC, yet also contains advice on getting a better, more family-friendly c-section if you end up having one by choice or circumstances. A very well-rounded book. If you are considering a VBAC, get this book! Highly recommended.
Natural Childbirth After Cesarean: A Practical Guide, Karis Crawford and Johanne C. Walters. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell Science, 1996. *http://www.lalecheleague.org/
Excellent book on VBAC, both in practical advice and theoretical critiques. Full of helpful hints about handling different types of problems that can lead to C-sections, including many concrete and practical suggestions about specific situations. Also addresses well the emotional aspects of childbirth preparation, using visualizations, and exploring fears. If you are considering a VBAC, get this book too! Also highly recommended.
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, Henci Goer. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group (A Perigee Book). 1999. Available from Cutting Edge Press, (802)635-2142, or www.childbirth.org/CEP/.
Outstanding book on making important childbirth decisions (see above). Lots of information on VBAC vs. repeat cesarean, birthing location choices, etc. First half of book is no-nonsense guide to looking at the pros and cons of various birthing issues; second half of book is a detailed medical reference section, discussing the studies that apply to these issues and analyzing the results. Couples can choose to use simply the non-technical straightforward summaries in the first half of the book, they can delve into the medical studies and analysis in the second half, or they can dip in and out of both as needed. Although the author has definite opinions on the issues and expresses them, she also presents fairly the arguments for both sides and most importantly, gives hints on maximizing outcome if an intervention (like induction) is chosen. A MUST-READ!
Silent Knife: Cesarean Prevention and Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, Nancy Wainer Cohen and Lois J. Estner. South Hadley, Massachusetts: Bergin and Garvey Publishers, Inc., 1983.
THE original and classic look at C-section prevention and VBAC births. Folksy, full of rhetoric, and a bit dated, but good reading. A MUST if you have had a c-section. Its "Mindscapes" chapter on emotional issues that can interfere with a good childbirth experience is also extremely insightful, well worth reading! A good addition to a reading list but remember that it's a bit dated and the emotions from the women are raw, as often happens after an unnecessary c-section. Great for emotional recovery after a c-section and familiarizing yourself with c-section issues. Recommended. [It also has a sequel called Open Season, which is good. Filled with a LOT of rhetoric on the politics of birthing, but the section on childbirth education, dealing with fears, dealing with past birth negatives, etc. is quite good. Definitely worth reading, but is not meant to be a guide of step-by-step practical advice for planning a VBAC. Use the Korte book or Crawford/Walters book for that and Open Season as additional reading.]
The Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Experience: Birth Stories by Parents and Professionals. Lynn Baptisti Richards & Contributors. South Hadley, Massachusetts: Bergin and Garvey Publishers, Inc. 1987.
Hard-to-find book but worth searching for! Is full of inspiring VBAC stories from moms and health professionals; offers many lessons for women seeking a VBAC.
Birth After Cesarean: The Medical Facts, Bruce L. Flamm, M.D. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990.
Classic medical reference looking at the controversies over whether VBAC is safe, written by the author of the world's largest studies on VBACs. Excellent data points, good book to use if you need to convince your provider or a family member of the value or safety of a VBAC. A few of his recommendations are too conservative (he believes a VBAC mom must have an IV and constant EFM monitoring) but the book was written fairly early in the medical history of the VBAC movement and is 10 years out of date in terms of recommendations. Many providers would disagree now with the necessity of some of these, but it may be useful to you to have the medical bible on the subject, written by one of the most pre-eminent medical authorities on VBAC. Recommended with caveats.
Recommended Books and Videos on Parenting
The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two, William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1993. *http://www.lalecheleague.org/
*THE* best baby/parenting book around. It's big and chock full of excellent information. Written by experienced parents with many family anecdotes (their large family includes a variety of situations, including a special-needs child and an adopted child who was nursed by the adoptive mom, so they have a wide range of experience). Hands down the one book to get if you skip all the others. Highly recommended.
Nighttime Parenting: How to Get Your Baby and Child to Sleep, William Sears, MD. New York: New American Library, 1987. *http://www.lalecheleague.org/
*Excellent* book on preventing/helping solve sleep problems, one of the most common concerns parents have after baby is born and through the first few years! Favors the family bed and sharing sleep; is not an advocate of 'crying it out.' His chapter on the medical basis for co-sleeping is especially good at clarifying the issue. Recommended.
The Discipline Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Better Behaved Child from Birth to Age Ten, William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1995. *http://www.lalecheleague.org/
Addresses parenting concerns for discipline from a child-centered, 'meeting the child's needs' point of view (attachment parenting). Emphasizes preventive discipline, but good hints for practical situations given too.
Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age 5, Penelope Leach. Rev. ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1989.
British author of the popular child development series in books and on TV. Very practical. Some of her breastfeeding advice is not very good, however. Some people love this book, while others do not. Might be worth checking out but don't use as your only parenting source.
The Fussy Baby: How to Bring Out the Best in Your High-Need Child, William Sears, MD. New York: Signet, 1989. *http://www.lalecheleague.org/
Good for parents trying to deal positively with 'high-needs'/high energy children. Many parents of high-needs children swear that this book saved their sanity and helped them understand and appreciate their children better.
Other William Sears/Martha Sears books (Kmom can neither recommend OR pan them as she has not read them, but the Sears books tend to be very good overall) include:
Most are available from La Leche League, http://www.lalecheleague.org/
Recommended Books on Multiple Pregnancies
Having Twins, Elizabeth Noble with Leo Sorger, M.D. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991. *http://www.lalecheleague.org/
The best reference about having twins, with lots of good information on different types of twins, complications, preventive care, nutrition, etc. Also addresses 'supertwins', or multiples beyond twins. A few parts are very 'New Age', but overall the book is very good. Addresses especially well the emotional complications inherent in twin pregnancies, i.e. bonding issues, twin psychology, losing a twin, handling medical complications or early births, dealing with the challenges of multiples, etc.
Recommended Books/Organizations on Grieving/Pregnancy Loss
*Kmom has not read many of the following books but they are recommended in the Resource sections of several of her favorite pregnancy books. There are also many online resources for grieving parents of all circumstances. Email a question asking for these groups and mailing lists to the newsgroup, misc.kids, and you will surely receive a number of replies.
Ended Beginnings, by Claudia Panuthos and Cathy Romeo. Westport, Connecticut: Bergin & Garvey, 1984. Available from Cascade Press/Birth and Life Bookstore - (503) 371-4445 or (800) 443-9942. Highly recommended by Kmom.
Empty Arms: Coping After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death, by Sherokee Ilse and Linda Burns. 2nd ed. Long Lake, MN: Wintergreen Press, 1990.
How To Go On Living After the Death of a Baby, by L. G. Peppers and R. J. Knapp. Atlanta: Peachtree Publications, 1985.
On Children and Death, by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. New York: Macmillan, 1983.
The Bereaved Parent, by Harriet Schiff. Baltimore: Penguin, 1978.
Living Through Mourning, by Harriet Schiff. Baltimore: Penguin, 1987.
Compassionate Friends, Inc., P.O. Box 1347 Oak Brook, IL 60521 (708) 990-0010. www.compassionatefriends.org.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Center 1421 E. Wayzata Blvd, #40 Wayzata, MN 55391 (612) 473-9372 (Also has a video called "Empty Arms: Coping After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death.")
Bereaved Moms Share - http://members.aol.com/BrvdMomShr/. For moms who have lost a baby by miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death (to 1 month). Personal stories, links, articles to help with the grieving process, info on an email mailing list. Further info to Loni (moderator) at BrvdMomShr@aol.com.
A Place To Remember - www.APlaceToRemember.com
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Mailing List - www.ivf.com/misc.html
Griefnet - http://rivendell.org/nd
SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support) - http://home.vicnet.net.au/~sands/sands.htm
Parenting Surviving Multiples - www.egroups.com/list/psm
SPAL (Subsequent Pregnancy After Loss) - www.inforamp.net/~bfo/spals/index.html
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