Posts tagged ‘pregnancy’

January 25, 2011

At some point, the baby has to come out

And that’s when you get Dr. Sears’ Birth Book.  Well, actually, it’d be better to get it a few months earlier than that…

Title: The Birth Book
Author: William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.
Genre: Parenting

Summary and Review: If you’ve read my other posts on parenting books, you know that books that don’t yell at me are what I like the best.  This book doesn’t yell, which I appreciate.  I do go back and forth on my feelings about the Sears family and their empire of books.  I think it’s always dangerous when one entity, even if the entity is a whole family not one individual, has so much influence.  Their “Baby Book” which I used as my bible the first year, still really pisses me off in places…but that’s for another post, I suppose.  I really like this book.  The “bias” is toward a natural birth, but the tone of the book is respectful and describes very thoroughly hospital procedures and the role of modern medicine.  And since every other book you read is likely to be hospital-doctor-medication-leaning (unless you are really seeking out a natural or home birth), this is a good one to read some of the other arguments.

They walk a fine line between describing birth as a natural process and talking about a woman’s body as something that is built for birth, rather than something that has to endure it and talking about the modern hospital setting and the things that it has to offer.  In other words, a woman’s body is strong, powerful, and capable and medication or a necessary C-section might make it even better.  As an example, I really liked a line about the use of an epidural–that they have seen an epidural used really well at the end of labor to calm down an anxious mom and help labor progress more quickly as a result.  In other words, while they value natural birth and think it has it advantages for woman and babies, they don’t view women who turn to medication and other intervention as failures.  They view them as women trying to have a baby, which seems logical.

They also talk about C-sections and when they are really necessary.  Now, they don’t really agree with planned C-sections or inductions that aren’t truly indicated, but they do talk about them.  They give a lot of time to VBACs and even talk about home birth VBACs.

Honestly, I don’t think there is much that is likely to happen during a birth that isn’t in some way covered in this book.  I highly recommend.

January 24, 2011

I’m pregnant–and what’s happening?

The overstuffed bookshelves at every store are proof that when women get pregnant, they all have questions. And they look for answers in the wide array of books their bookstore has to offer.  Being someone with a lot of questions as well as someone who likes to research answers, I’ve read a lot of these books.  My book repertoire was increased with number two, given that all my pregnancy books from number one were stashed away in storage, three thousand miles away and thus pretty much unreachable.  So I got a few new ones, and this is one of the ones I liked.

Title: I’m Pregnant!
Author: Lesley Regan, MD
Genre: Parenting

Summary and Review: It has pictures!  Good photos are my favorite part of a nice research book.  Photos that help illustrate something and make it more readable.  I really appreciated and enjoyed the photos and detailed medical drawings in this book. The book’s sciencey feel was nice–she describes what’s going on, and shows you with pictures.

The scope of the book is also great.  It covers diet and exercise, rights for the working mother, prenatal care and the choices you can make (which is so wonderfully unbiased–thank you!), growth and development of the baby throughout the trimesters, labor and birth, and even things after birth such as the physical recovery of mom and feeding the baby.  This part is great, because I’ve talked to a lot of first-time moms who read all the pregnancy books but hadn’t started the baby books yet–and then they had this hungry, squirming thing and so many more questions!  So it’s nice that you will get an overview of some of those topics while you are reading your pregnancy book.

The book’s author writes in a nicely balanced, nonjudgmental tone, which I really appreciated.  That said, it is a book by a doctor and it assumes a hospital birth in a fairly modern-traditional way.  However, she expresses a balanced position on pain medication and uses “doctor or midwife” to describe the provider.  She doesn’t set out to make anyone feel bad about choice they are going to make, unlike some authors I’ve read.

I enjoyed the book, and even though I’ve done it before, I found it reassuring to follow along as my pregnancy progressed.

January 17, 2011

The Processs of Childbirth

There is SO much out there about childbirth.  If you read the wrong stuff, you can end up feeling REALLY guilty about absolutely any choice you might make.  For example, there are those books who say that mothers who choose a natural birth, or a home birth, or even a birth in a hospital with a midwife are “selfish” because they are thinking only about the birth experience and not about their future children.  Then there are those people who say that mothers who choose an epidural, or a planned C-section, or a pitocin-inducement, are “selfish” because they are thinking only about themselves, their comfort, and a schedule that is convenient to them.

Ah, the myth of our society–that women should be completely selfless, and thus anytime they are making a decision with which we might disagree, they must be acting selfishly.

Since I am a reader, almost obsessively (my husband would have me delete the “almost”), I read a LOT of books before my first child was born.  And as a result, I had a lot of mixed feelings.  I had a hard time judging the fact from the vitriol.  And frankly, I get enough of that with today’s politicians.

I had heard from others that this book by Ina May was not balanced and as a result I didn’t read it the first time around.  I regret that.  Probably mostly because I did end up reading books that were unbalanced in the other direction, and if I wasn’t going to find balance in one volume, then it would have been good to balance them myself by reading both sides.  I’m glad I picked this up for my second one, though.  I feel like I know the arguments for OBs and drugs and hospitals.  And it was powerful to read so many well-reasoned, researched, and practiced arguments for a natural birth.

I don’t believe that the two ways of thinking are mutually exclusive.  I believe that every woman should have the choice to get the love and care of a midwife or doula (or both) and the modern technology of drugs and back-up procedures such as the C-section.  And no, I don’t think that’s selfish.  I think that’s rational.  And I think it’s taking into account the best health of the baby and the mother, which is what should be done.

Having said all that, this is NOT a balanced read.  This is a book for woman who are interested in a natural birth, or perhaps interested in trying to labor for as long as they can before getting an epidural.  However, I feel really strongly that most of what you are likely to hear from our society, magazines, your friends, family, and your OB is going to be so far in the other direction, that this book is a good read to balance it all out.  Just please, don’t let it make you feel guilty if you aren’t the natural-birthing kind.  Just let it guide you in ways to understand your birth a little better.

I have other books to recommend, too, so I’ll be putting more out here soon.

Title: Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth
Author: Ina May Gaskin
: Parenting, Nonfiction
Age: Parents or Parents-to-be

Summary and Review:

The first half of this book is composed of personal birth stories from woman who gave birth naturally at Ina May’s midwifery clinic “the Farm” in rural Tennessee.  I had been told by more than one person that these stories were “inspiring” and to some extent they are, but let me not sugarcoat them–they are also scary.  Above all, they are honest and real.  Real women talk about their experiences.  They talk about pain and fear, but they also talk about ecstasy and love.  Some of them seem so happy during the births that you’d think they feel almost no pain at all (and indeed Ina May talks about a study that shows a direct correlation between how much pain you expect and how much you feel).  They are very real stories, and while some are not for the faint-of-heart, they are also compelling and yes, inspiring.

The second half of the book is the part I actually liked the best.  Ina May sums up her extensive experience with her extensive research.  She talks about pain management and how you can set your own expectations.  She talks about the benefits of thinking about contractions as “rushes” or waves, and reframing the experience in your mind.  She talks about the mind-body connection, something that can be lost in Western medicine.  While the book is certainly aimed at a natural-birthing and even home-birthing crowd, even if you are planning an OB-hospital birth, this book will likely help you with the hours you are likely to labor at home first, and give you ideas about choices you might have in the hospital that you might not otherwise know about.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and definitely recommend it.  It provides a powerful paradigm for understanding the birth process and the female body.

October 5, 2010

What’s a big brother to do?

Okay, you might notice a theme here, but these are the books my son and I are reading right now.  I suppose it’s a good thing he wants to read them over and over.  I am in the middle of some middle-grade titles, too, so more on that coming up.

Title: What a good big brother!
Author: Diane Wright Landolf
Illustrators: Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
: Picture Book
Age: 9 months and up 🙂

Summary and Review:

Cameron’s little sister Sadie cries a lot, and Cameron helps his parents.  He hands his dad some wipes (LOTS of them!), gets the nursing pillow for his mom, and rubs her tummy when it’s naptime.  But what to do when no one knows what is wrong?  Cameron’s soft touch not only calms the baby, but gets her first smile, too!

The story isn’t complicated–it’s really just what I’ve written above, and it gives kids at least a somewhat realistic expectation of what to expect with a baby–i.e., lots of crying and some helping of mom and dad.  It shows a young boy who gets pleasure in that kind of help, which is great.  And it shows the brother really involved in the baby’s life.

Just to warn you, the illustrations are a bit much.  They are gorgeous, but the backgrounds are this crazy hodge-podge of colors and patterns.  In fact, my son even asked what was wrong with the boy at one point because he had some red dots on him which had carried over from the turquoise-purple squares with red dots background.

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

This book introduces a lot of topics you can talk about with a sibling-to-be, mostly that babies are a lot of work, but they are also wonderful to share time with.  They cry a lot because they can’t talk when they need something.  Always reminding your older one that he or she was once a baby is helpful.  In fact, the first few times you read it, you might only refer to it that way–yes, you used to cry like that because you couldn’t talk!  You used to nurse like that before you knew how to eat!  This will help the older one realize that it’s not just about the baby and, while 2-year-olds are not developmentally empathetic, it at least gives them a framework to reference the baby in comparison to themselves.

October 3, 2010

Welcoming a new BABY

Before I click “purchase” on an online site, I like to read the reviews.  But not all the reviews, only some of them.  I am very picky about what I read.  I read one or two 5-star reviews, and then I read all of the lowest reviews—the 1- or 2-star ones.

Why am I so focused on the negative?  Well, I believe you can learn more from those people.  Sometimes, the 1-star reviews are written by raving lunatics and you can tell by their first three words that they’ve never liked anything in their lives, so you can write that one off.  Sometimes, they are the most well-written and well-thought-out reviews of the bunch and you have to listen to them, grudgingly if it’s something you thought you really wanted.

And sometimes (and this is what I’m looking for) they are well-written, but their reasons for not liking them have nothing to do with you—and that’s when I really seal the deal on a purchase.  If it has some good reviews and some bad reviews, but the bad reviews are reasons that don’t apply to me, I’m done.  So there you go.  And that’s the way it was with this book.

I found this book while looking for books to read to my toddler about becoming a big brother—something that would give him a slightly understanding of what might befall him should a baby enter his world.  This one had both very positive and very negative reviews, but I was hooked when I read my first negative review, about how the book mentions a sperm and an egg, and how that was wholly inappropriate for children.  Well, I didn’t read further.  I put it in my shopping cart.

Title: Hello Baby!
Author: Lizzy Rockwell
: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 5

Summary and Review:

This is a great, straightforward book.  It is factual without being boring.  It speaks to the kids about what is happening within the context of a story.  I like that the boy visits the doctor with his mother and hears the heartbeat–just like my son does with me, so he could relate and even knew what the machine was in the picture.  I like that the doctor is a woman (so sue me, I’m slightly sexist).  I love the pictures of the little boy as a baby, toddler, and “grown up” on his trike…the pictures so perfectly capture the first few years of childhood that they could have been my son.  I like that the boy and his grandmother bake cookies and build a fort while they are waiting for the new baby (instead of, I don’t know, watching cartoons or something sacrilegious like that).  I like that there is breastfeeding in the book, so my son knows what to expect.  I like how the daddy is just as present in the parenting as the mommy and that the older boy is encouraged to be involved.  Some of the vocab does seem a little much–I mean, he doesn’t know what a womb is.  Seriously, the baby is in my tummy.  But how else is he going to learn?  A great book, especially alongside some other, less serious ones.

But lest I give you a negative vibe here—it isn’t serious at the risk of being boring.  It’s a grown-up book about a grown-up topic with a kids’ storyline and kids’ pictures.  And I like that, too.

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

Every page of this book is a conversation waiting to happen, and most of the good ones relate the baby back to your own toddler.  Examples:

Did you ever go to the doctor’s with mommy and hear the heartbeat?
Did you ever live inside mommy’s tummy?
Do you have a bellybutton?
Did you ever wear really tiny shirts and socks?
Were you ever that small?
Did you ever crawl on the ground?
Did you learn how to walk?

You get the picture.  But probably the greatest thing about this book is that it invites activities and then gives a child a context in which to understand them and feel that this is not just something happening to him alone. So, take him to your OB or midwife and let him hear the heartbeat.  Let him help assemble the crib (or if you have more commonsense and caution than I, let him play with his own toolbox next to you while you do it).  Let him help sort the clothes.  Let him pick out some baby toys.  Get him involved.  Of course, I’m still in the book-buying part of the sibling-addition process, so I’ll let you know how all my highfalutin ideas really do any good come screaming-baby-in-MY-mother’s-lap time.  (Although I do have a book about mother’s laps to talk about.  Perhaps next time.)

Okay, now for those online reviewers concerned about sperm, let’s talk about that.  There is one page with illustrations of a developing fetus.  The text doesn’t mention sperm, although the picture caption says “a tiny egg cell from the mother is fertilized by a time sperm cell from the father”.  I actually haven’t even read this part to my son yet, mostly because it’s way too abstract for him to understand.  But I do point to the pictures and show him how the baby started out really, really small—too small to see!—and then grows and grows and grows until it’s ready to come out!

When your children are too young to read, it really doesn’t matter too much what the words say.  Of course, if you always made up your own words, it would be hard for them to learn to read by following along with you.  But I doubt you always do this.  And here, you aren’t making up your own words, you are just choosing whether or not to read all of the captions.  Seriously.

(I have a potty-training book that uses words like “pee-pee” and as specific instructions on the bottom of the page that parents should feel free to substitute their own terminology.  Really?  I mean, thanks for your permission, but hopefully parents already know that this is true with all of their books!)  I’ve always felt strongly that a reader is not merely a passive instrument soaking up information, but a vital character interacting with the book.  This has taken on a whole new meaning since I’ve become a parent reading picture books every night.  I mean really, some are seriously boring.  I make up better stories to go along with the pictures.  Or there are the times my toddler requests a rewrite, as during a recent reading of “The Three Little Pigs”.  He didn’t want the wolf to blow the house down, so instead the wolf just invited himself in for a playdate.  He was happy with that version.  The next time we read it, I took a page (pun intended) from Scieskza’s True Story of the Three Little Pigs, and had the wolf sneeze during the playdates, accidentally blowing the houses down and ending with all three pigs and the wolf playing together in the sensibly built house.  I guess what I’m trying to say here is that a book is whatever you want it to be.