Posts Tagged ‘birthing from within’

Top 4 All Time Favorite Pregnancy Books!

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

There are countless pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting books available. I remember going to the bookstore shortly after finding out I was pregnant with my first child. I stood there browsing the section of pregnancy books. Despite the large selection I didn’t really find one that grabbed me. Granted I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for; ideally I wanted to find a book that would help guide me through the entire novel experience of pregnancy and childbirth. How that actually translated into a written book I had no clue. I just assumed all women needed such a guide so surely it existed? I left the store with a generic “Your Pregnancy Week by Week” style book in hand. It showed pictures of baby’s development and listed corresponding symptoms I would likely experience. All in all it was a rather drab and clinical perspective on pregnancy. Furthermore it did absolutely nothing to prepare me for childbirth or mothering. It was not at all the magical guide I was hoping for.

Fast forward  six and half years later: I have now read many, many books on the topic and decided to come up with a list of Top 4 All Time Favorite Pregnancy Books to share with you. That way you can bypass all the monotonous, uninspiring pregnancy books and go straight to the good stuff! 🙂

1. Birthing From Within by Pam Engalnd – If you only read one book your entire pregnancy, THIS is the one I would suggest. Birthing From Within looks at birth as a rite of passage. Unlike many pregnancy books that focus on the purely factual information regarding childbirth (stages of labor, dilation, pain management options, etc), Birthing From Within gives women tools to prepare emotionally and spiritually for childbirth. A large section of the book is devoted to Birth Art, which many “non-artsy” people (myself included) initially write off or even skip over. But let me assure you, it’s powerful stuff! Why? When a woman is in labor, she is operating in her right brain. She is primitive, uninhibited, free, raw, reflexive, wild, loud, and naked both physically and emotionally. She is her true self. Ironically most women attempt to prepare themselves for giving birth by stimulating their left brain. They will read tedious books, attend highly structured birth education classes, or talk with other
women who have given birth. Valuable information is missed if we only perceive birth in our left brains. Birthing From Within provides suggested activities that will actively engage your right brain. It is unlike any other childbirth preparation approach out there, but among one of the best in my opinion.

2. Mother Rising: The Blessingway Journey into Motherhood by Yana Cortlund, Barb Lucke, and Donna Miller Watelet – This book is plentiful with ideas on honoring the pregnant mother with a Blessingway Ceremony. Like Birthing From Within, Mother Rising acknowledges birth as a rite of passage; one that should be celebrated with ritual and tradition. Because Blessingway Ceremonies are not very common in our culture, many women are unsure how to create such a ceremony. This book gives very detailed and specific information on planning a blessingway ceremony, even down to suggested scripts. One thing I liked about the book is I felt it could also appeal to someone who prefers more of a modern day”baby shower” but wants to include some elements of a blessingway. Reading through the book made me feel deeply connected to women near and far, past and present. It impressed upon me the importance of celebrating and honoring the pregnant journey in a very special way.

3. The Attachment Parenting Book by William and Martha Sears – I felt this book was a fantastic read for my husband. It provides a very direct, easy to understand and apply, description of the main tenets of attachment parenting. Additionally it is a relatively quick read. The information is so accessible and therefore easy to remember. I highly recommend it as both an introductory and summary of the Attachment Parenting philosophy, especially for those that want straightforward information.



4. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International – For me this book is THE breastfeeding book. It is simply overflowing with evidence based information about breastfeeding.  In fact it’s not a book I would pick up and read cover to cover. There is just too much information to process at one time. I tend to use it more as a guide or reference book when I have a questions for myself or from a friend. However I would recommend reading the first two parts; planning to breastfeed and the early months of breastfeeding at some point during pregnancy so you can approach breastfeeding armed with solid information.

So there you have it….my 4 favorite pregnancy books. 🙂 What books are among your favorites for pregnant women?


API Principle #1: Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting

Friday, November 4th, 2011

When a couple finds out they are expecting, it is often a time filled with excitement, joy, and a healthy dose of nervousness. Whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, a pregnancy begins a new journey for your family. Attachment Parenting International views pregnancy, birth, and early parenting choices as important bonding opportunities. Therefore they encourage families to prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally for pregnancy, birth, and parenting.  The difficulty is that we often don’t know how to do that? Most expecting couples will spend a great deal of energy, time, and resources into decorating a nursery for new baby and collecting material things for baby. However they often give little attention to preparing the mental, physical, and emotional space baby will occupy in their lives. Here are some suggestions on ways to prepare for the arrival of a new baby that align well with the first principle of API.

Take a Childbirth Education Class – A childbirth education class typically provides couples with information about body changes during pregnancy, baby’s development, stages of labor, pain management options, and early postpartum care including basic breastfeeding information. Some childbirth education classes will go beyond providing clinical information and also delve into the spiritual, emotional, and psychological aspects of pregnancy and childbirth. Philosophies that I think well support couples in a holistic approach to birth are Birthing From Within, The Bradley Method, and Hypnobabies.


Exercise during pregnancy– Unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from exercising, gentle exercise can be very beneficial to you and baby during pregnancy. Walking is a simple, relaxing and easy way to exercise during pregnancy. It might help with any discomforts you are experiencing as well as help baby get into a optimal position. Squatting is very helpful in strengthening the pelvic floor muscles used during labor. Another great exercise option is to take a prenatal yoga class. If you are unable to find a class in your area that fits your schedule or budget, there are some good prenatal DVDs on the market. Netflix even carries a few or check your local library to see what selection they offer. A critical component to any exercise regimen is eating well, staying hydrated, and getting adequate sleep. This is especially important during pregnancy. While we tend to focus on the physical benefits of exercise, regular exercise can also help us feel balanced both emotionally and mentally.

Arm yourself with Breastfeeding Information and Support – Establishing successful breastfeeding is challenging for many woman. Any preparations you can do during pregnancy will have a positive impact on your breastfeeding experience. Attending La Leche League meetings during pregnancy is one easy way to meet other breastfeeding moms and develop a network of support. If your local LLL meetings don’t work in your schedule consider taking a breastfeeding information class. If you are not sure where to locate a class they are sometimes provided by hospitals, doulas, breastfeeding counselors, lactation consultants or speciality boutiques that sell nursing accessories. Additionally take time during pregnancy to read breastfeeding literature such as The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding or visit the kellymom website.

Make Informed Decisions – Throughout your pregnancy you will be offered many routine procedures during prenatal appointments. This will likely continue into birth as well as newborn care. Know that any medical procedure is optional and nothing can be done without your consent. This is known as informed consent. You have the right to ask questions, delay, or decline any medical procedures or interventions offered to you, even ones not presented as being optional. You are the authority on your body and no care provider can make any health care decisions for you. It is important you select maternal health care providers who will empower you throughout your pregnancy and during labor. Creating a birth plan can provide a helpful framework to address your preferences regarding health care procedures for both you and baby.

There are many great ways to prepare yourself for pregnancy, birth, and parenting. These preparations are a foundational part of the attachment parenting journey, so be sure to give it the love, attention, and focus it deserves! 🙂

What ways did you prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally for pregnancy, birth, and parenting? 


Be sure to check back next Friday when we examine API’s 2nd principle: Feed with Love and Respect.