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#1 of 6 Old 03-13-2015, 01:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Book recommendations

So I've been using the Kindara app for a year and a half now to chart my cycles, and the community feature just opened up on regular computers instead of just phones. So when I was browsing my old charts, I found quite a few book recommendations I had written that I thought might be helpful to share here. Here they are:

"Our Babies, Ourselves" by Meredith Small was full of fascinating facts about babies and how women in other countries raise them...the book challenges traditional American parenting in several regards (for example, 90% of babies around the world sleep with their parents...only British and American babies are put into beds in their own rooms, traditionally). Because I want to do attachment parenting, I really loved this book including the science behind why co-sleeping is beneficial and I also was very interested in the evolutionary perspective of the book (and here's another helpful tip: babies who are held the most in the first month of life cry a lot less for the next few months).

In terms of books about birth, I really loved "The Big Book of Birth" by Erica Lyon (and I really hated "The Pregnancy Bible" with its pervasive pinkness and its constant use of "your healthcare provider will want to..."...what about my own choices? I read it as an alternative to "What to Expect" but hated it just as much and didn't learn much because only the most surface explanations were given...not a helpful or empowering book. Especially when there is a lot of space dedicated to avoiding risks that are extremely small...I feel like this sort of book encourages women to trust the "experts" instead of their own intuition and that is not putting them in a good place as a parent, especially given my history with bad doctors). Lyon's book was very empowering with its constant "you can do this" attitude and it did a great job explaining your choices in a balanced manner. She includes lots of birth stories both good and bad, and there's a lot of very specific information about the stages of birth and how to get through them in a natural birth, but she is also supportive of epidurals. My friend who just had a natural birth said it was the most helpful book she read.

And I liked Mark Sloan's "Birth Day" for a history of childbirth. He is a doctor and is full of interesting personal experiences as well as historical ones. One of my favorite bits from his book is that the whole reason that women now lay on their backs to give birth is not at all because it's the best position (it's actually one of the worst), but because Louis XIV wanted to watch his mistress give birth, and that's the position that gave him the best visiting court doctors from England thought it was cool and brought the practice back home, where it spread (unfortunately). There's also an interesting section on the history of anaesthesia, which was popularized by Queen Victoria. Women used to be routinely ethered and knocked out for their births, which shocked me (and then I asked my grandmothers about it, and they were both ethered and don't remember their births either!). So there really is a good reason to be skeptical of fads in medicine!

"Parenting for Primates," written by Harriet Smith, a primatologist, was another really great book. It was fascinating to see how other primates approach child-rearing and the wide range of parenting strategies. She makes lots of tie-ins to human society as well, so it is certainly applicable to human parenting, but I also enjoyed the different approach.

Another fascinating one (which I know I will re-read) is "What's Going on in There?" by Lise Eliot about brain development. It gets pretty technical so it was a slow read for me, but she does break it down and I learned so incredibly much about human development and myself! One of my favorite bits from that one was that we have a whole organ, the vomeronasal organ that is present in most other vertebrates for sending pheromones, that develops early in gestation but is dismantled around 6 months and ultimately replaced with other parts of our frontal lobes that allow for critical thinking. But for a few months, the organ is operational and the fetus can probably sense pheromones from the mother. Such cool stuff!

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#2 of 6 Old 03-13-2015, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
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I can't seem to find my recommendation for it, but "Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?" was another great read. It's not very long, but it is chock full of fascinating stuff, like how the placenta controls appetite and itself is controlled by paternal DNA, so many women end up craving foods that their partners like. And chocolate lovers apparently do have sweeter babies disposition-wise! Apparently our bodies make a compound after eating chocolate that produces calm and happiness, and this makes the baby calmer and happier, even after birth (the moms who ate the most chocolate had the leasy fussy babies who cried less). The author noted that the compound made in reaction to eating chocolate is extremely similar to the compound made in reaction to smoking marijuana...which of course raised more questions in my mind. It is fascinating stuff!
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#3 of 6 Old 03-14-2015, 03:43 AM
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Those books look great! I think the cultural baby-raising book looks especially fascinating! I have a few on my shelf - one is

which is very 1970s and is filled with stories of birth by women on The Farm. But it's really laid back and full of love. I also have

which is FULL of statistics, backed by research. I think if I were a FTM and birthing in a hospital, I'd read that one just to know both sides of common issues that surround birth, especially hospital births. I have two copies (one more recent edition) of

which again, is very 1970s but shows actual photos of babies in the womb week by week. My kids like to look at this one to see what baby looks like now.

None of mine are very exciting, but I think I found them for pennies at consignment shops/sales and they've gotten a lot of use. Yours sound much more fascinating!

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#4 of 6 Old 03-14-2015, 04:51 AM
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If you're a research geek like me, Expecting Better is amazing. It's written by an economist who wasn't satisfied with all of these "rules" around pregnancy and wanted to see what the research said...and she summarized it in a very accessible way. It covers things like alcohol during pregnancy, toxoplasmosis, etc. but also other things like induction, epidurals, delayed cord clamping, etc. I've made a lot of my decisions based on this book.
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#5 of 6 Old 03-14-2015, 05:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Metasequoia, Ina May's book is on my reading fact, the only reason I haven't already read it is that multiple friends offered to lend it to me, so I didn't buy it, but then no one has actually given it to me yet. "A Child Is Born" sounds cool too--I'll look for a used copy. And CatLadyMeow, thanks for that recommendation! I had that book on my Amazon list for the longest time before it was published after reading some reviews, but I never got around to ordering thanks for reminding me! (Is it silly that I did the vast majority of my reading before I actually got pregnant? I started reading a lot just before we started ttc, but then when I made it through a whole shelf and still wasn't pregnant, it started seeming depressing and pathetic so I stopped. Now I have less time to read, which is unfortunate! I'm going to see how much I can get done during spring break though )
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#6 of 6 Old 03-14-2015, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Metasequoia View Post
I have two copies (one more recent edition) of Lennart Nilsson's "A Child is Born" which again, is very 1970s but shows actual photos of babies in the womb week by week. My kids like to look at this one to see what baby looks like now.
I loved that book growing up. I never tired of going through the photos.
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