I am a big reader/researcher even when it comes to the smaller things in life so you can imagine how obsessed I became with finding good books once I wanted to get pregnant, be pregnant, and become a Mom. I also love hearing good resource recommendations from other people I trust and I get asked all the time on Instagram “what was that one book that talked about…” so I thought I’d have my top reading list here all in one place so I can say which is good for different parts of the motherhood journey and a little about what is so special about each selection. Some of these are newer picks and others are pretty dogeared on my bookcase but they represent the books I recommend most to friends and online friends too!
Taking Charge of Your Fertility: A must read for anyone with a vagina!! I didn’t read this book until I was 30 years old and I realized I can gone my entire life without knowing exactly how my period and fertility cycles worked. Like, for example, I never realized that cervical fluid (i.e. normal vaginal discharge) has a purpose and a pattern that can tell you so much about your cycle and how helpful it is to track your temperature (and how to read it properly). Also, lots of tips for increased fertility timing as well that you may have been charting incorrectly if you aren’t aware of how your particular cycle operates. It’s so much beyond all that as well and it’s one that I recommend for all women who both do and don’t want to get pregnant and I would also suggest this for all teen girls as well to help understand how their cycle works from the beginning.
How to Conceive Naturally and Have a Healthy Pregnancy After 30: This book is great for giving practical steps to increase your overall health and fertility (mostly for women but has steps for men as well) as well as lists of foods/supplements to increase fertility and a plan for a 3-month detox to prep your body for getting pregnant (which I did before getting pregnant with Lola). While I eat much more plant-based than this book recommends as far as their recipes go, I still think it has a wealth of knowledge and while any age would benefit from the tips and list of suggested supplements and superfoods, it also has great material to help those “older” moms not give into the fear of a “geriatric pregnancy” (moms 35 and older) that can be so prevalent in the culture. It also has specific chapters and tips for each stage of pregnancy and beyond and lots of natural remedies for a host of pregnancy ailments as well.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth: This is kind of like the natural birth Bible as far as the midwife/home birth/birth center community goes and it’s easy to see why after you read it. I did a whole book review on this one but I found it so helpful in helping to normalize the beautiful process of birth and help you feel less afraid and more empowered. Very focused on the “mind/body” connection during birth as well and if you are planning on (or thinking about) a more natural birth route then this is a great place to start as she has a lifetime of wisdom and passion for that path.
Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding: Having actually breastfed a baby of my own now I find that “how-to” books on breastfeeding aren’t really that helpful in my opinion. It’s not bad to read about all the differing holds and techniques, but until you are really doing it yourself, you really don’t know what to ask or what your unique problems are yet. While this book does cover different feeding positions (and what to try when) I mostly like it for how it makes you feel about breastfeeding. Even if you felt like the idea of breastfeeding is pretty cool before reading this book (or especially if you are on the fence about whether or not you think it’s better or worth it) then I feel it’s invaluable for getting you so incredibly pumped up on the amazing miracle that is breastfeeding that it can help carry you through feeding difficulties you may have when baby comes. I had a really hard time with Lola’s tongue tie and a low milk supply and to be honest breastfeeding was one of the most difficult areas for me as a new Mom, but knowing how amazing of a process it is, and how good even just a little could be for Lola, it really helped me to hang in there as long as I could. Of course not every Mom is able to breastfeed or is able to as long as they would like (as it was in my case) but if it’s something you are wanting to try then I highly recommend this book. I also had Todd read certain sections of it and he was so blown away and impressed with what he read that it also helped him feel passionate and supportive about wanting to help me breastfeed for as long as I could, and believe me, having a support system like that is invaluable especially is breastfeeding is a challenge for you.
Baby-Led Weaning: I realized when Lola was about 5 months old that I had been so overwhelmed by my trip to Babyland that I had no clue how or when I wanted to start her on solid foods (which usually happens around 6 months of age). A friend of mine mentioned Baby-Led Weaning which was a term I had never heard of (and is a bit misleading as you aren’t weaning the baby off of milk which is usually what comes to mind with the term) and the more I looked into it, the more I really loved the concept. It’s all about teaching babies to take control of their own food by discovering textures and tastes and feeding themselves from an early age and encourages wide ranges of flavors and spices and family-centered dinners. I’ll absolutely do this method with any more kids we have, I really love the results as Lola is such a good eater and it freed us up at mealtimes when she was young to eat while she ate rather than having to spoon feed her and take turns eating our food. I did a whole post on our process and I shared some meal ideas we liked to do as well when starting out.
The Postpartum Depletion Cure: This is the newest of my book recommendations but it’s one that I wish I had known about in my first month of postpartum life. While the “How to Conceive Naturally” book does cover the 4th trimester, this one is super in-depth into what happens to your body after baby with tons of practical solutions to help with the fatigue/sleep deprivation/hormonal imbalances/lowered immune system/anxiety/depression/weight gain or loss etc. that can happen after baby. It’s so hard to get extended follow-up care for the Mom in the months and years after a baby is born (all the focus usually switches to the baby) and this helps to give you all the tools you need to find out what your issues are and how to help correct them.
Bringing Up Bebe: One of our favorite books! I wrote a review on this one as well and while I read it initially years before I was pregnant, I read it again when I found out we were having a baby and I’ll probably keep reading it every few years as a refresher. I love reading about the different ways that the author sees French kids being raised and while I don’t think that all of the methods/priorities fit exactly in line with our parenting style, a lot of them do and I love how they treat children like mini-adults in certain respects expecting them to eat and enjoy wide varieties of foods and respect and acknowledge others around them without making them the center of the universe and a “child king” as they call it. Lots of interesting methods to read about (especially on how they get small babies to sleep through the night) but also just plain fun to read.
The Happiest Kids in the World: In a similar vein as Bring Up Bebe, this looks at children in the Netherlands who rate as the happiest kids in the world (and they rank #1 in education as well) and how their parents live and raise them and what they value as a nation as a whole. A great look into how they raise kids in a low-stress zone while still fostering family, independence, and creativity. I love reading this book having also ready the book about French kids because they have some similarities but also some major differences of opinions on what is best— it’s fascinating to read both perspectives and think about which you find more appealing and why.
The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: This book was such a breath of fresh air for me as a new Mom and I love how she sympathizes with your emotional and physical plights in a way that only another mother can understand. I think I cried a hundred times reading the chapter on understanding your value as a mother and other habits like saying no to competition are life-giving in our age of social media comparison. I’ve bought this book and given it out to other new Moms I love it so much and I plan to re-read it often for myself as well.
Liturgy of the Ordinary: I think this is a great read in general, but especially for those of you who are faith-based Moms, and especially Moms with little children. Having young children especially can be such a joyous, but at the same time, a rather soul-sucking time as you are just giving and giving of yourself all day long until you feel like you have nothing left (let alone time for hours of spiritual contemplation/prayer or volunteering for those in need). As a Mom of little kids herself, as well as an Anglican priest, Warren is in the perfect position to help gently guide the reader into recognizing ordinary and small moments of the day for what they are—small opportunities for reflection, prayer, praise and thanksgiving transforming the ordinary things into extraordinary moments.
The Five Love Languages: Why is this book on the list? If you haven’t already come to this realization on your own, having kids can be a lot on a relationship no matter what state it was in before the babies came along. Even the best/strongest of bonds can be tested to the point of breaking with difficult seasons that can last for months or years at a time and one of the ways you can see past all the negative emotions and tendencies to fight over who’s doing more than their fair share of the chores, etc. is to know each other’s love languages and make special efforts to show your partner you care in their love language rather than your own. With people we love it’s human nature to do unto others we wish others to do unto us, but it’s so important to show love not only in the way you receive it, but in the way that the other person is wired. Sometimes big events like a baby can completely change how we want to receive love so it’s a good idea to keep this book around and retake the quiz every couple of years to see if your top languages have changed over time. My languages are basically a tie between “Quality Time” and “Acts of Service” and I have to keep in mind that Todd’s are different and show him affection in the ways that he receives it best. For serious relationship troubles I would always suggest a good marriage counselor, but even at that level of need I still think this is a great help to strengthen any relationship and bring the focus back to loving each other in practical ways you know they will recognize and receive.
There you go! Of course you can get these books from your local library as well (which I sometimes like to do before buying a book to see if it’s one I want to keep) but most of these are on my permanent bookshelf now because I like to loan them out or refer back to them in different seasons (or just completely reread them with more underlining, etc) so you can do whichever option you like! Hope one of these is helpful for whatever season you find yourself in!
You might appreciate the Risen Motherhood podcast if you haven’t checked that out already. It’s faith-based but such an uplifting 30 minute once a week podcast by 2 moms with young kiddos.
The five love languages is also great to help keep in mind that even young children have a preference for love languages (I.e. not wanting to be touched or other preferences) and it’s important to respect their boundaries as much as possible from a young age!!
My midwife had me read “Birthing From Within.” This book changed the outcome of my birth. My midwife pointed out that I try to control the outcome by gaining knowledge and birthing will bring me to the end of my resources. I denied that was possible in my head with my first birth, but a long tough first birth (though amazing and rewarding) had me way nervous enough to read the book before the second home birth. That birth the midwife called my “cosmic birth.” Pam England, the author is a midwife and art therapist who helps women face traumatic birth issues and overall helps mothers prepare for birth. It highlights the spiritual aspect that birthing holds as well, which is great if walking through a more “medical world” birth where one can feel like parts and pieces and a liability.
My favourite book during my pregnancy was the hypnobirthing book by Marie F. Mongan. I’m sure you’ve read it!? I always tell my friends if they only want to read one book during pregnancy it has to be this one. Will definitely look into some of your recommendations. And on a side note hoping to read soon enough about pregnancy stuff again 😉
Oh yeah, I know ALL about hypnobirthing! I need to write a post on that too actually…hope you need this books again soon!