What book(s) on babies worked for you?
May 27, 2005 6:10 AM   Subscribe

What book(s) on babies and the childbirth experience worked for you as a first time parent and why?

I remember a thread some time ago (can't find it now) that discussed the different baby books available and what people thought of them. The "What to Expect" series was not popular, which surprised me. Since I can't find the thread, what book(s) worked for you? Why?
posted by Mrs. Green to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I read voraciously as soon as I got pregnant, and by far the best birth book I found was Birthing from Within. But that was 1999, some other good ones have likely come out since.
posted by beth at 6:32 AM on May 27, 2005

The What To Expect When You're Expecting books are great. Nearly every question we had about the whole pregnancy / birth experience seemed to be covered and my wife was constantly referring to it during her 9 months.
posted by gfrobe at 6:37 AM on May 27, 2005

My wife was happy with "What to Expect" as well, and I got lots of good insight and tips from The Expectant Father, which I highly recommend.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:00 AM on May 27, 2005

I had two bibles: The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth while I was pregnant and Your Baby & Child once each of my three children were born.
posted by idest at 7:13 AM on May 27, 2005

I will be giving my sister and brother-in-law The Poo Bomb. This is probably not helpful.
posted by Capn at 7:36 AM on May 27, 2005

One thing to consider while you are reading is that (at least some of) these books are full of all kinds of totally obscure dangers. While there are a million ways things can go horribly wrong with pregnancy, delivery and infants, you need to be able to balance the fear of these things with their actual likelihood of occurring.

We wound up in the emergency room with my son 3 times before he was 3 months old, and in each case there was no real problem. The nurse who was helping us on that third visit said to my wife "Honey, throw all those damned books away and listen to your own instincts." Things went smoother after that.

Having said that, The Expectant Father was a very handy resource for me.
posted by Irontom at 7:37 AM on May 27, 2005

Enh. None that I recall. (my kids are 8 and 13, so it's been a while.) OK, so I read up on fetal development, and on labor and delivery, just so I'd know what was going on, but that was about it. I figured that women have been having babies forever, and I didn't worry about it a whole lot. But then, I don't worry much. (I had no problems with either pregnancy. Whether that's a cause of my not reading or an effect, I don't know.)

IME, people who read too many books about pregnancy/parenting tend to pay more attention to what the book says and not enough time paying attention to what their body/child/instincts are saying.
posted by jlkr at 7:49 AM on May 27, 2005

Seconding both of idest's recommendations. Kitzinger is very empowering, and Leach's book reinforces common sense.

I have heard good things about Birthing From Within, but not until after my last kid was born.
posted by whatnot at 7:53 AM on May 27, 2005

My wife really enjoyed 'The Bad Mothers Handbook' which seemed to be both funny and informative.
posted by mattr at 7:53 AM on May 27, 2005

A friend of mine just loved The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy.
posted by JanetLand at 8:11 AM on May 27, 2005

I also recommend The Expectant Father, one of few good resources for dads-to-be. The Baby Book (by Sears et al Sears) is also full of extremely useful (and sane) advice and is still the first book we pick up to research question we have regarding our (now one year old) son.
posted by Songdog at 8:17 AM on May 27, 2005

I just read the few sample chapters of The Poo Bomb and laughed so hard that I cried. Warning: Do not eat or drink anything while reading those sample chapters.

Thanks, Capn, for making my day.
posted by jeanmari at 8:32 AM on May 27, 2005

This question is VERY timely for me. Timely indeed. Thanks.
posted by trbrts at 8:44 AM on May 27, 2005

While the "what to expect" books ARE full of everything that possibly could go wrong, they are still pretty valuable.

My wife swore by the book "So That's What They Are For" for breast feeding support.

Finally, two things that every expectant parent MUST remember:
1) Go see movies NOW--you won't be seeing many after the baby comes
2) You can't make anyone eat, sleep, or poop. The sooner you incorporate this realization into the deepest levels of your psyche, the happier you'll be!
posted by lrivers at 8:52 AM on May 27, 2005

I can't believe nobody's mentioned Dr. Spock's Baby and Childcare. I guess it was the first comprehensive child care book. Remember the great Coen Bros. movie, Raising Arizona? Wherever the baby went, the copy of Spock's book (the "directions") went, too.
posted by wsg at 8:55 AM on May 27, 2005

I give a copy of Spiritual Midwifery to every expectant mom I know, and invariably they tell me how wonderful the book is.
posted by Specklet at 8:56 AM on May 27, 2005

The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD ~ this was recommended to me by a friend whose dad is a pediatrician. Absolutely amazing! It shows you some techniques for keeping your baby happy and calm during those first very rough months. I have given it as a gift now about 7 times and every couple we gave it to bowed down in thanks after they began using the technique.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer ~ My wife and I really liked this book. Helped me really to connect with my babies, and learn to understand what their different cries meant. A must have IMO.

Pipe lots of music into the womb with head phones. We did this with my son who just turned 2, and he is a dancing machine now, and loves music. Coincidence? Perhaps. But I have seen him in a group of ten other two year olds as the only kid dancing to the bass from a passing teenager's car. It's like the music controls him. Neither myself nor his mother have any sort of musical inclinations either. I don't know if this will help him in life, but it cannot hurt, is amusing as hell, and as long as the pied piper doesn't roll down my street, it should be alright.
posted by brheavy at 8:57 AM on May 27, 2005

It really depends on what your mental image of pregnancy, birth, and childrearing is. The books you choose, like your choice of health care provider for yourself and your new child, really depend on your basic philosophies.

If you're thinking low-intervention, and you're interested in attachment parenting philosophy, then the What To Expect series is going to seem incredibly obnoxious to you. You're much more likely to gain insights from Sears, or Kitzinger, or Gaskin.

As far as childrearing books are concerned, I strongly recommend Becoming the Parent You Want To Be. It's not going to tell you if the fever's high enough to warrant a call to the pediatrician. It will help you hammer out your parenting philosophy a little bit, and give you tools to approach different developmental stages without wigging out.

For breastfeeding, look no further than the newest edition of The Nursing Mother's Companion.

I am heartily sorry that The Story About The Baby is no longer online in complete form, but as one of the multitudes who read it and said "YES! That's how it is!", I have to strongly second the above mention of The Poo Bomb. A truer story was never written. And you will need all the funny you can get at 2AM.
posted by padraigin at 11:16 AM on May 27, 2005

Caveat - baby 1.0 is not due until July 30 so I can tell you what has helped so far as well as what all of our friends have suggested these.

The Sears books (not the home store but the Drs.) have been great. Particularly the The Pregnancy Book and The Birth Book. For the actualy birth part, several people have suggested Ina May's Guide to Childbirth but it is a little too granola for my tastes.

I also second The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy.

I am still working through finding books on my impending fatherhood so I am not so helpful there but I have read and enjoyed the above plus a number of others that were not so helpful.
posted by GrumpyMonkey at 12:26 PM on May 27, 2005

I 2nd The Baby Book by Dr. Sears. It's practical, logical, informative, and best of all it shows respect for your own parenting style (none of that 'you must do x,y & z crap). And it covers pregnancy as well as the first 2 years of life.
posted by LadyBonita at 12:29 PM on May 27, 2005

The one my wife liked best was Advice From a Pregnant Obstetrician: An Inside Guide. It does a great job of telling you what can go wrong, but reassuring you at the same time.

I strongly advise avoiding the "What to Expect..." books and anything by Barry Sears. The former are way too judgmental--they'll make you feel like your hurting your child if you eat a bowl of ice cream! The latter are just too touchy-feely.
posted by cerebus19 at 5:20 PM on May 27, 2005

By "Barry Sears", you could mean William Sears, or Berry Brazelton.

Some of us like touchy-feely, especially vis-a-vis our babies. Just saying.
posted by padraigin at 5:25 PM on May 27, 2005

A very helpful book for us was "The Everything Get Ready for Baby Book", which doesn't deal with pregnancy but has all kinds of useful info on getting the nursery ready and baby-proofing the house and whatnot. I also enjoyed "How To Dad", one of the few dad books that didn't get all preachy.

For the first five years of life, we've found "Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Revised Edition : Birth to Age 5" invaluable. Our pediatrician gave us a copy for free, which was a good investment on her part for the number of times it has answered our questions so that we didn't have to call her or go to the ER for no reason.
posted by robhuddles at 5:26 PM on May 27, 2005

I'm a fan of the Sears' Pregnancy Book too. It has little sections on things for dads-to-be as well and covers most eventualities but keeps everything, generally, positive and light. I'm in my second pregnancy now and I refer to it regularly as a progress guide, and did with the first also.
posted by tracicle at 6:43 PM on May 27, 2005

Frederic LeBoyer a french OB wrote a book Birth Without Violence, and a complete method of delivery. Not well known here in America, but awesome photos of smiling newborns.
posted by hortense at 7:19 PM on May 27, 2005

I didn't read many books. I read a lot of magazines, because the information seemed more up to date. I also took parenting classes. After the baby was born though, I picked up 'The Baby Owner's Manual' by a husband and wife team. I still use it today. ISBN: 1-931686-26-8

It's fun, and explains everything very simply. Now I give it at every baby shower I go to.
posted by FunkyHelix at 9:07 AM on May 28, 2005

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