Resources That Helped Me Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum

Books

Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler

I can't tell you how many people have come to see me who have begun IVF or other fertility treatments before even knowing when they are ovulating. PSA: not everyone ovulates on day 14 of their cycle. It kills me to see women diagnosed with infertility when it might just be that they are not having sexual intercourse at the right time of their cycle! This book (and the ovagraph app) are great starting points to understanding the ins and outs of your menstrual cycle and how to detect if your hormones might be unbalanced. If that's the case, there is a lot we can do with nutrition to help balance hormones! Curious to read about my experience with the Fertility Awareness Method, see my post here.

Ancient Map For Modern Birth by Pam England

There are so many books you can read to prepare for birth. This was one I felt was the most balanced, unbiased and thorough. It walks the reader through the process of mindfully preparing for birth, regardless of whether it is planned to be at home, birth center or a hospital. It also guides the reader in facing her fears head on and planning for the unexpected. It acknowledges the spiritual and sacred nature of birth and views it as a normal and natural process, not a pathological “condition” that is to be feared.

  • My husband and I participated in the Birthing From Within Childbirth Preparation class created by Pam England and follows the same philosophy as her book. You can learn more about that here. We loved having Barrie teach our class locally.

Exercising through your pregnancy by James F. Clapp III MD and Catherine Cram- Don’t judge this book by its cover. There is tons of great evidence shared in this book supporting the benefit (and importance) of exercising in pregnancy. 


Ina May's Guide To Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin- Inspirational and real stories of women’s birth experiences on “The Farm” community where legendary Midwife Ina May served thousands of families with the lowest Cesarean rate. She shares wisdom about childbirth from her years of midwifery experience.

Ina May's Guide to breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin- Ina May shares more of her wisdom and natural remedies for encouraging breastfeeding and navigating its challenges.


The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou- inspired by the Chinese tradition of zuo yuezi, this book shares essential wisdom in a modern and balanced way. The second half of the book includes many nutrient-dense recipes that I chose to make (during the waiting period) and freeze ahead for my early postpartum. The ginger lemonade switchel was one of the only things I could keep down while I was in labor, thankfully I made a 2 gallon jar of it! I drank the whole thing! I also loved the braised trottters (pig’s feet), the beef and seaweed soup, and the goji berry and Chinese date tea.

Baby Knows Best: Raising a Confident and Resourceful Child, the RIE™ Way by Deborah Carlisle Solomon

The RÍE philosophy acknowledges children’s innate drive for excellence regardless of constant parental praise. It educates parents on how to create an environment that fosters baby’s natural drive to explore, learn and experience success. I listened to this book and found it to be very reasonable. My favorite part about this parenting philosophy is that it acknowledges babies as simply little humans, with their own thoughts and feelings that need to be respected.

Go Diaper Free by Andrea Olson- Learn how to potty your infant from birth using Elimination Communication (EC) and cut your diaper waste significantly by minimizing how long your child spends in diapers as well as how many they use while in diapers. Doing EC has helped me understand and connect to my child’s needs so well. Who would have knew that a baby’s sudden outbursts, distractions, nipple bites and smiles were simply them giving us signs to attract our attention to inform us of their need to use the bathroom?!


The Wonder Weeks by Frans X. Plooj- I’ve enjoyed reading this book before and during each developmental leap to see what cognitive or motor skills my baby is learning and how I can foster an environment that helps him explore his new skills. It also helps explain why my baby might suddenly be clingy, fussy  or have interruptions in his normal routine.

You might notice I have no recommendations for books on baby sleep. For some reason, I knew this wouldn't be an issue so I didn't really prepare for that other than optimizing my own sleep rhythms.

Instagram Accounts to follow

If seeing is believing, then I recommend surrounding yourself with what you want to believe. If you visualize yourself having a homebirth, an unmedicated birth, or a planned cesarean, allow your social media feed to be filled with the positive stories that you want to see. If you want to be comfortable in your postpartum body, I encourage you to follow accounts that are body positive and inclusive.

During my preparation period, I found it to be SO helpful to see home/water births with regularity. Seeing so many women give birth helped me realize how natural and normal of a process birth is! In the same way, I found it encouraging to see other women weightlifting and exercising throughout their pregnancies as I was.

Podcasts/Audio

Birthfit- Sharing of birth stories among women in the Birthfit community, inspiring empowerment of women in the motherhood transition
Real Food Mamas- A RD and ND share interviews and wisdom on nutrition/health topics of interest for mamas seeking optimal health
Unruffled Respectful Parenting with Janet Lansbury
Move your DNA with Katy Bowman (formerly Katy Says)- Understanding the natural movements happening in pregnant women, babies' movement development and breastfeeding.

  • Episode 72: Breastfeeding Ecology, Part 1

  • Episode 77: Breastfeeding Ecology, Part 2

  • Episode 51- Babies and Movement, Part 1

  • Episode 52- Babies and Movement, Part 2

  • Episode 35- Diastasis Recti—The Book!

  • Episode 11- Diastasis Recti

Modern Mamas Podcast - Mindful motherhood, supporting mamas who seek to improve their health and that of their children
Rewild yourself Podcast

  • Orgasmic Birth: Dancing Babies into the World - Debra Pascali-Bonaro #165

  • Miscarriage, Menstruation & Mindful Mothering - Chloe Parsons #144

  • Human Milk is the Human Norm - Jennifer Grayson #134

  • The Ecstatic Hormonal High of Childbearing - Sarah Buckley #35

The Fourth Trimester Summit - Lots of great interviews to help you prepare for postpartum

Pain-coping practices and visualizations by Pam England - I particularly enjoyed listening to the tale of Inanna’s Descent, a mythical story of a woman humbling herself before this rite of passage.

Hypnobirthing Rainbow Relaxation Meditation Audio Tracks - a birth affirmations soundtrack and a meditation soundtrack that I listened to whilst getting acupuncture or taking a midday rest

Websites

Birthfit
Go Diaper Free - Resources for Elimination Communication (pottying an infant from birth)
Janet Lansbury - RIE resource for respectful parenting
Wim Hof- I practiced the Wim Hof breathing Method in preparation for labor
Kelly Mom- Valuable Breastfeeding resource
Period of P.U.R.P.L.E.Crying- Understanding why it's normal for babies to cry, especially in the early months

Conscious Baby with Eliza Parker- Understanding baby-led movement milestones and aware parenting

Inspirational Quotes

Giving birth may be the single most athletic event of your life, train for it.
— Birthfit
I do not care what kind of birth you have... a home birth, scheduled cesarean, epidural hospital birth, or if you birth alone in the woods next to a baby deer. I care that you had options, that you were supported in your choices and that you were respected.
— January Harshe
We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.
— Laura Stavoe Harm
Birth is not only about making babies.

Birth is about making mothers —

strong competent and capable mothers

who trust themselves and know their inner strength.
— Barbara Katz Rotherman
The more difficulties one sees in the world the more perfect one becomes. The more you plough and dig the ground the more fertile it becomes. The more you cut the branches of a tree the higher and stronger it grows. The more you put the gold in the fire the purer it becomes.... That is why, in all times, the Prophets of God have had tribulations and difficulties to withstand. The more often the captain of a ship is in the tempest and difficult sailing the greater his knowledge becomes. Therefore I am happy that you have had great tribulations and difficulties.... Strange it is that I love you and still I am happy that you have sorrows.
— Abdu’l-Bahá
The great importance attached to the mother’s role derives from the fact that she is the first educator of the child. Her attitude, her prayers, even what she eats and her physical condition have a great influence on the child when it is still in womb. When the child is born, it is she who has been endowed by God with the milk which is the first food designed for it, and it is intended that, if possible, she should be with the baby to train and nurture it in its earliest days and months.
— Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626