Saturday, January 9, 2010

The year I learned to read while breastfeeding, Part 1: Recommended Reading on Birth and Babies.

Birth and Babies

The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night

Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent

Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding

Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater

Good Nights: The Happy Parents' Guide to the Family Bed

Diaper-Free Before 3: The Healthier Way to Toilet Train and Help Your Child Out of Diapers Sooner

Nursing Mother, Working Mother, Revised Edition

Baby Love

The Discipline Book: How to Have a Better-Behaved Child From Birth to Age Ten

The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer

The Nursing Mother's Companion: Revised Edition

The Birth Partner, Second Edition

Unbuttoned: Women Open Up About the Pleasures, Pains, and Politics of Breastfeeding

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding: Seventh Revised Edition

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Revised Edition

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth

The Birth That's Right For You: A Doctor and a Doula Help You Choose and Customize the Best Birth Option to Fit Your Needs

The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy: Second Edition

Spiritual Midwifery

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

Inder's favorite books »

My secret to even more reading this past year? Maternity leave. Breastfeeding, breastfeeding, and more breastfeeding. And some more breastfeeding (they're not kidding when they say 8 to 12 times per day!). And some pumping (fun reading assists with milk let-down - no, really, it does). And I thought reading my book while waiting in line at Trader Joe's was multitasking? That was nuthin'!

I haven't slept well for almost a year. Putting a positive spin on this: I have done a lot of middle of the night reading in the past year.

It should come as no surprise that much of my reading centered around pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and parenting. And now that Joe is 8 months old, I am in a better position to say which books were most helpful to me. Warning: I'm kind of a hippy mom. Every parent has their own style, and mine tends towards the crunchy granola. With that in mind, here are some highlights:

Favorite Books on Childbirth:
1) Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin: I read this in 2008, and then dipped into it repeatedly as my "time of confinement" drew near in 2009. The great part of Ina May's books are the narratives of successful natural births. I can't say they prepared me for labor (I was not prepared for labor! who knew it was so painful?) but they did help psyche me up a bit.

2) Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin: Ditto. This book was familiar to me, because my mother referred to it back when she was having babies. However, note: When I was in labor, and my doula quoted Ina May's line about labor pain being not "real" pain, but rather, an "interesting sensation that will get your baby out," this did not make me happy. That is a load of crap. But I still love you, Ina May!

Stupidest Book on Childbirth:
The Birth That's Right For You, by Amen Ness & Lisa Gould Rubin: You'd be better off just reading that pamphlet they give you at the doctor's office.

Favorite General Parenting Books:
1) The Baby Book, by William Sears, MD: Pretty much everything you need to know about taking care of a baby, plus a heavy dose of attachment parenting dogma (taken with a grain of salt, I generally like this approach).

2) The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp, MD: Not the greatest book, but some of the greatest methods for making a newborn happy. I have never had a single book recommended to me so many times, by so many different people. And there's a reason for that. However, you could probably just watch the DVD and skip the book.

3) Our Babies, Ourselves, by Meridith Small: This ethnographical look at childrearing styles is not a how-to manual, but is nonetheless one of the best parenting books I've read. However, I should point out, I am currently reading Mother Nature, by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, and so far it is even better. Check my 2010 recommendations.

Stupidest Title:
Our Babies, Ourselves, by Meridith Small. No, it has nothing to do with Our Bodies, Ourselves.

Favorite Breastfeeding Books:
Best How-To Manual: The Nursing Mother's Companion, by Kathleen Huggins. Supplement as needed with

Best Breastfeeding Manual Plus Serious Discussion of Wet-Nursing (admit it, you want to know!): Ina May's Guide To Breastfeeding, by Ina May Gaskin. Also, by far the best discussion of what to do when your baby bites you (answer: react swiftly and firmly, like a mother dog - my kind of advice).

Best Working Mother's Breastfeeding Guide: Nursing Mother, Working Mother, by Gale Pryor.

Least Favorite Breastfeeding Book:
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, by La Leche League International: I love, love, love what the LLLI do, so I feel a little disloyal pointing out that this book is preachy, and worse, boring and redundant and generally endless. That doesn't mean you shouldn't go to a LLL meeting, though. They rock. But skim this book.

Favorite Book on Baby Sleep:
The No-Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley: Sleep is still very much a work in progress in our home (but I'm getting a lot of reading done!), but this is my favorite of the baby sleep books. No rigid schedules, no crying-it-out; just lots of suggestions and tips to try.

The Only Good Baby Memoir I Have Ever Read:
Operating Instructions, by Anne Lamott.

Worst Baby Memoir:

Baby Love, by Rebecca Walker: SO. BAD.

Okay, folks, I love babies, and I love memoirs - point me towards some other good baby memoirs. As far as I can tell, this is a sadly unpromising genre.

Coming up next: The best of everything else I read last year!


  1. I've missed your blog. Glad you're back!

    aw, my word verification is "bless."

  2. NurtureShock! But you already have that on your to-read list I think. If you can wait a month I can lend you my copy.

  3. Sorry, that's a great book about parenting, not a baby memoir. I was just too excited about the return of your blog not to comment.

  4. Have you read "Waiting for Birdy" by Catherine Newman? I used to read her blog on babycenter, so I was already a huge fan of her family before I picked up the book. As a result, I can't say for sure whether it's a good book...only that I enjoyed it. She's wonderfully neurotic and tender.

  5. Anne, please loan me NurtureShock when you come into town! My to-read list is enormous, so I can definitely wait for a non-library version. (I'm on a strict book budget these days - Amazon used or library only!)

    Melissa, thank you for the recommendation, I will see if I can find Waiting For Birdy at the library!

    Y'all make me want to keep blogging!


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