Aligning brain and womb
April 30, 2010 4:15 AM   Subscribe

Smart reading materials for feminist, expectant mums?

My dear friend is joyously pregnant with her first and looking for informative, enlightening and/or fun reading material around both pregnancy and early stage parenthood. Apart from 'Making Babies' by Anne Enright she's been somewhat disappointed by what she's found so far.

I'm avowedly child-free (but very excited about the pending nipper!) so a bit clueless in navigating the arena. She's mid-30s - academically brilliant, fiercely feminist and not shy of the harsh realities. She's also deeply liberal, warm, hilarious and stylish. Can MeFi Mums signpost appropriate blogs/books/articles for me to pass on?
posted by freya_lamb to Human Relations (14 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Some good suggestions previously.
posted by ScotsLament at 4:51 AM on April 30, 2010

My favorite early-parenting book was Heading Home with Your Newborn. Short and to the point for the first 4 months with all the special info you need for the unique things you have to do with newborns (cord stump care, etc.). I felt pretty comfortable with babies, but newborns scared me. It's not, like, a literary parenting classic, which sounds like maybe what you're looking for, but it was the single most useful book I had; it helped me feel prepared for having the baby at home, and by the time he "outgrew" the book, I had a good enough handle on parenting that I haven't referred a lot to my other baby books.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:53 AM on April 30, 2010

Rachel Cusk, A life's work. Passed on to me by a very close friend who read it soon after her first child was born last year. (She liked it even more than the Enright book.)
posted by lapsangsouchong at 6:10 AM on April 30, 2010

It is out of print now, but Ever Since Eve is a collection of essays, histories, and anecdotes about women, pregnancy and childbirth. It is lovely reader on the subject.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:43 AM on April 30, 2010

I am not a mother, but my friend created a bibliography of the the 100+ books she's read when she prepared for her first child. It's organized into 5 stages - motherhood, feminism, gender roles; birth choices, pregnancy & labor; breastfeeding, vaccines, infant care and development; post-partum and adjusting to motherhood; parenting beyond babyhood and feminist parenting. Her recommendations are linked to Amazon so you can also read those reviews as well.
posted by zix at 7:25 AM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

posted by cross_impact at 8:34 AM on April 30, 2010

She might enjoy the Skeptical OB blog.
posted by lakeroon at 9:36 AM on April 30, 2010

The books I always recommend for new parents are Dan Savage's The Kid and Anne Lamont's Operating instructions.
posted by vespabelle at 10:00 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

The single best book I read when I had my first child was Sarah Blaffer Hrdy's Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species. It lays out the scientific evidence for regarding alloparenting - the co-option of friends and relatives to help with raising infants - as a highly evolved and successful evolutionary trait. The book gave me permission to let other people get involved in caring for my babies while I went back to work - not as some sort of unfortunate compromise, but as the best-case scenario. With the new maturity and smarts of motherhood on my side I surged ahead at work, while my daughters formed strong attachments to an extended family. It's been great.

Once the kids were verbal, Haim Ginott's Between Parent and Child became my bible. It provides concrete, practical strategies for subverting communications roadblocks, all premised in a deeply compassionate and human world view that regards children as people.

Vespabelle wrote:
The books I always recommend for new parents are Dan Savage's The Kid and Anne Lamont's Operating instructions.

I loved these too.
posted by rdc at 11:28 AM on April 30, 2010

Natasha Walter covers motherhood in her feminist work.
posted by mippy at 12:04 PM on April 30, 2010

Seconding Henci Goer's Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth.
posted by Joh at 2:13 PM on April 30, 2010

lakeroon: She might enjoy the Skeptical OB blog.

I found it infantilising and very much out of date. Not to mention the CONSTANT REFRAIN THAT LABOUR IS HORRIBLE AND PAINFUL AND ONLY INSANE IDIOTS DO IT WITHOUT PAIN RELIEF. Which is not helpful while you're pregnant. Because the latter stages of pregnancy are crazy-making enough without second guessing everything you do - pain relief in labour does have it's side effects and negative aspects and it isn't just 'crazy' hippies making shit up.

baby anachronism is 10 months old and yes I did use pain relief and no I don't feel guilty - I just really really HATED that blog.

And that's without starting on her bullshit about breastfeeding

I haven't read it yet but I've heard a lot of brilliant things about it - Nurtureshock. My favourite parenting blog is bluemilk.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:32 PM on April 30, 2010

I just wanted to add my thoughts because I went through this thread, took the list of books to my local library, and got out several of those mentioned above. Here are my reviews. I think I should have read Amazon on these before just getting them out.

- Rachel Cusk, A Life's Work. I read this one first and give it thumbs down. It's a novel written by a woman during her second pregnancy, about being pregnant and giving birth. I think the problem I had with it partly is that I'm a physician, and the author is a very anxious patient who is distrustful of physicians. I don't have much patience for people who get anxious about the littlest things, and this author gave some evidence that she was a drama queen, and not in a "oh, I have worries like that too, I'm so glad other people worry about the same things" kind of way. My least favorite part of the book is when she is found to have a complication of pregnancy that will be dangerous for herself and the child, and she freaks out and decides to leave the hospital against medical advice. Come on! I understand that this was scary news, but this struck me as such bizarre behavior, I couldn't help but feel like making some diagnoses as an armchair psychiatrist. Plus, the book is a constant refrain of "I hated being pregnant, I hated labor, I hated having a baby (mostly hating having a baby, because it cried), it was the most miserable time of my life and only a crazy person would want to do it." Why anyone who is pregnant or even interested in having kids one day would want to read this book is a mystery to me.

- Rima Apple, Perfect Motherhood. I think this book was written as a PhD thesis or something. It's extremely dry and very difficult to read. Perhaps interesting if you truly have a deep passion about the history of baby care, but I am generally intrigued by history and this book was so hard to wade thru, I got about 40 pages in, started skimming, and had to stop. If she spent more time talking about the individual stories of mothers or giving it some human interest, it would be a lot easier, but it's mostly about books produced for mothers by doctors and the government. I also wished she put more opinion in there, because it seemed like there was a concerted effort not to inject her opinion. There was one point where she pointed out that doctors are patronizing and don't respect the autonomy of the mothers. At least if she had kept this up as a thread, getting angry might have kept me interested and reading.

- Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions. This book was the outlier, because it was a joy to read. Hilarious, personal, touching, just so, so funny. I don't know what else to say about it except read it! I'd recommend it to anyone, not just those who are pregnant. It's Anne Lamott's personal tale of being pregnant and her son's first year. It's adorable, I love Anne Lamott, and I would like to read all her books now!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:39 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

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