Years of working in magazines have turned me into a total research nerd. Whenever a new topic enters my life, I really enjoy diving in and learning as much as I can about it, and pregnancy and imminent baby life has been no different. Like with marriage, there is so much that we simply can’t know until we’re in the thick of it, so many challenges we can’t even begin to imagine now, but I find doing the researching a calming, fun part of preparing, so I thought I would share what Ben and I have been reading these past few months.
Hands down my favourite book, especially in the early days, was Expecting Better by Emily Oster. It demystified and debunked a lot of the advice pregnant women are given, and I like the author’s straightforward, research-driven approach. We were also gifted a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting (5th edition, which I’m told has nicer/less judgy language than previous editions), and that has served as our week-by-week pregnancy encyclopaedia (along with these gas videos!), with lots of helpful answers to common questions. Almost everything else I’ve been reading has been on Kindle, but this one I found really useful in physical form, as it allows you to quickly skim over questions and topics.
Labour and beyond
The Positive Birth Book: A new approach to pregnancy, birth and the early weeks has been brilliant and, along with my doula, is really helping me reframe my thinking about labour and childbirth. Ina May Gaskin’s classic tome Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is also worth a read. On the topic of labour, I’ve been using and enjoying the Gentle Birth app, which was recommended by lots of other mums, along with their great, encouraging Facebook page. I also recently started reading The Nursing Mother’s Companion (as recommended in this old-but-still-good Cup of Jo blog post on breastfeeding).
Despite the cheesy title, And Baby Makes Three has been full of great insights, giving Ben and I lots of talking points. You hear a lot about how babies affect relationships, and it’s something I think and worry about a ton, especially as it’ll be just two of us here in Lisbon so much of the time. This was written by the couple who famously created a model than can predict with close to 94 percent accuracy which newly married couples will be divorced within three years (it must make them terrifying dinner party guests!). It lays out where frictions can arise and how you can begin to tackle them (which often boils down to simply remembering “we’re all in the same soup”).
Bonus round: Parenting
It’s a little hard to imagine having a kid when we’re just barely starting to get our heads around having a newborn! So a lot of our parenting reading has focused on books that simply open our eyes to different parenting styles. My guess is so much of what we will do as parents will be instinctive, almost knee-jerk at first, but reading these has helped us explore new approaches and challenge old assumptions. French Children Don’t Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman was the most fun, though not sure how actionable a lot of of the advice in it would be (much of it seems to rely on your living in France, tbh!); The Danish Way of Parenting has been interesting, though I’m only a few chapters in. The Baby Sleep Solution by Irish author Lucy Wolfe also has what I hope will be useful, actionable advice though I’ve only read a couple of chapters of that too (the newborn ones!).
Magazine-wise, Lunch Lady is a lovely, fun read, as has me so excited about all sorts of toddler and kid-hood adventures. Ben recently picked up indie mag Fathers on a recent trip to LX Factory’s mag kiosk and it looks great, filled with beautiful photography and real life stories. And Time Magazine did a special edition called The Science of Childhood which I’ve enjoyed dipping in and out of.
Phew, when I list them all out it seems like a lot! But as you can probably tell I’ve mainly been reading them in dribs and drabs (alongside some brilliant fiction reads – post on those soon). Let me know if there’s any you think I should add to the list!