There are so many books out there on birth and babies that it can easily get overwhelming. I wanted to take this opportunity to recommend some books that really helped me through my pregnancy and the birth of my baby. You can find a link to the books at the end of each section.
The Good Birth Companion by Nicole Croft
This book was a huge help in not only getting through birth, but most importantly understanding what is going on during the process. Birth is scary concept when you don't understand what is happening and why. The book is broken into three sections, the first helping you to prepare for birth. She provides information on pain relief options and other choices to consider. The best chapters were the one explaining the role of the primal brain in birth (baby brain will make more sense) and the one on being mobile during labour - something that will help a lot. The second section describes each stage of labour, what happens and how you can best get through it. This was by far the best chapter for me, as I found it very useful and reassuring to know what was going on. It was useful to understand Transitional Labour which is a hard things to get through, but if you remember that it is your body gearing up for the next phase (the pushing stage) it can help. There is also a chapter on the hour after birth and one on caesareans. The final section offers great advice on surviving the first few weeks after the birth and making the most of this special time with your baby. Overall the book is useful and reassuring read. You can find the book here.
What To Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff with Sharon Mazel
The What To Expect books are considered classics and with good reason. This provides a comprehensive guide on pregnancy and all that comes with it, from the beginning chapters on pre-conception and pregnancy tests, through to the month by month guide to pregnancy and extensive information on birth and surviving the first few weeks afterwards. It covers absolutely every possibility in pregnancy and birth. My favourite section of this book was the month by month breakdown of pregnancy. I found it really fun to follow this as my pregnancy progressed. Each months chapter tells you how your baby is developing that month, what symptoms you may be experiencing and how to cope with them (and other things that you may be thinking about.) I enjoyed that each month the current size of your baby is compared to something that you can visualise - usually a piece of fruit. Like the previous book, the section on the different stages of birth and how to cope with them was very useful. A truly indispensable book. Please note that although the version that I used can be found here, there is a new edition of the book coming out in January 2017.
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah J. Buckley M.D
Most of the decisions that went into my birth plan came from this book and it is a great read if you want to go down the route of a natural birth. I did not follow all of the advice in this book, as I simply didn't agree with it - for example there is a section on ultrasounds and other tests being a cause for concern, but I felt that knowing that my baby was alright made them worthwhile. As with all of the advice in these books, it is up to you what you follow and don't. I chose not to have an epidural based on the information that I found in this book, which is a huge decision. With all of your birth choices it is important that you do your research. The books is split into two sections, the first on the benefits of a natural birth including information on the different pain relief options and the effects that these can have on you and your baby and also the same information on the different tests available. The second section focuses on a gentle approach to mothering, helping you to bond and follow a gentle parenting path. I found the information on the pain relief, tests and different options presented throughout birth and pregnancy to be useful, but as previously stated, ensure that you research around any decisions that you make. You can find the book here.
Admittedly, there was one other birth book that I bought and did not get around to reading, so I will hopefully work through this and review it for you all next time around. I hope this has been helpful to those of you who are currently expecting or are hoping to be soon. Have you read any usefuol pregnancy and birth books? Let me know in the comments. :)