My sister recently became pregnant for the first time (Yay!!!) and asked me expectantly for a list of books I read to get ready for the baby when I was pregnant. She’s eager for any information I can give her. The problem is that there is a wealth of information out there, not all of it reliable, and much of it contradictory. It’s hard to know where to turn for sound advice on pregnancy and childbirth. Your mom’s advice is outdated, your mother-in-law’s experience was different than yours, and your friends have all jumped on a different parenting bandwagon. And the internet is vast and full of crazy people. How is a pregnant first-time mom to know what to do and where to turn? I guess she turns to her older sister who’s already had 5 kids, but I wasn’t able to find a lot of reliable resources when i was pregnant either. Though, I did find a few helpful things, and there is one resource that you will rely on more than any other.
The few resources I found helpful when I was a pregnant first-time mom:
(Also, when I was a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th time mom)
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I’ve had 5 kids. I’ve been there.
I’ve been the pregnant first-time mom, so hungry for any tidbit of information that I was gobbling up every book I could borrow, no matter how new-agey or old-fashioned it seemed. When the internet became more common and I was having my first girl, or my first preemie, or my first baby in a long time, I devoured internet articles, discussions and forums on topics I was still unsure about.
But the more I read about pregnancy and childbirth, the more confused, scared, and overwhelmed I became.
These books may be outdated or controversial, and this list is really small compared to all the resources out there, but they are the ones that I found helpful and enabled me to make informed decisions.
What to Expect when You’re Expecting
I read this book from cover to cover, over and over again. This was before we had internet in our home and so it was pretty much my only lifeline to information about pregnancy and birth. The information in it was helpful, but often overwhelming. I learned to take a lot of the advice with a grain of salt because not all pregnancies are ideal and most births don’t go as planned. This book also gave me phobias of all the things that could go wrong and made me feel guilty for eating white bread. But it still had a lot of good info with guidelines on what to expect (hence the title) as far as weight gain, symptoms, appointments, etc.
Parenting With Love and Logic
Obviously not pregnancy or birth related, but this book is essential for any parent, and you’ll need discipline strategies before you know it.
Outsmarting the Female Fat Cell After Pregnancy
A great resource on losing the weight after the changes your body goes through as a postpartum woman. This book helped me lose all the baby weight after #2. After 3, 4, and 5, things got a lot more complicated.
This website has some helpful articles, but the most helpful thing I found were the forums where moms discuss what is going on in their lives and get their questions answered by other moms. When I couldn’t find information anywhere else on a topic (like what it’s really like to have a placental abruption), I found that there’s almost always SOMEONE on these forums who has had experience with what you want to know about.
I’ve always been able to find some good information on here.
This site, especially the page linked above, helped when kid #5 threw everything I thought I knew about sleeping babies out the window.
This is a very, very short list of resources.
Not a lot to go on. I read other, less helpful things too, but these seemed to be the most reliable for me. I know there are more and better resources out there, but I didn’t encounter them. And now that we all have the internet accessible in our pockets, if you need information or have questions, you can always just google it. But regardless of how many books, websites, and people you consult for advice and information, you’ll ultimately need to be the one to make the decisions yourself.
When it came down to it, all this research was valuable, but my gut was my most important resource.
Rely on your gut. Your instinct. Your mother’s intuition. After you’ve done your research and asked your friends and mother-in-law, and neighbor down the street for advice, you’ll get to a point where you have to sift through all this information and make decisions. No one can make them for you. No pressure or anything.
When I was eight months pregnant with my #5, I still needed to trust that good old gut.
I was having a lot of braxton hicks contractions, but one night I had one long contraction that wouldn’t go away. I mean, it would come and go (kind of), but unlike actual contractions, there was more coming than going. I tried googling what to do, I tried calling the nurse at the hospital for advice, and I tried all her advice including drinking a crap ton of water, taking a warm bath, and timing my contraction(s). I asked my husband for advice since he’s a pretty clear thinker, and I prayed for help. Do I go to the hospital? Do I wait? Am I overreacting? Is it better to be safe than sorry? Unfortunately my past experience wasn’t much help. With #3 I’d gone in to the hospital for spotting and they sent me home because nothing was wrong. With #4 I’d gone into the hospital for spotting and they kept me there on bedrest for a week until the baby was born three months early. This time I wasn’t even spotting so I really had no clue if what I was experiencing was a big concern. And you’d think being on kid #5 I’d know what to expect, but things are always so different!
So I had to rely on that gut. Or maybe it was a nudge from the holy spirit or a revelation from God. Whatever it was, I decided that even though my husband had work early in the morning, and it was 11:00 at night, I would have him take me to the hospital. And thank goodness I listened to that gut. Because I did start bleeding, started periodically passing out, and they ended up knocking me out, taking the baby via emergency c-section, and giving me two blood transfusions, all within a couple of hours of deciding to go to the hospital.
In the end, you have to do what you feel is right.
Only you can decide what is right for you and your baby. But so that my sister can have some more information to help her make informed decisions, comment with your favorite pregnancy and birth-related resources. C’mon, help a girl out. Because my resources were discovered way back in 1999, and even your gut needs some information to go on.