I read; a lot. I own countless recipe, craft, interior and lifestyle books, so when it came to motherhood I was always going to want to do my research. After our miscarriage a few months before we got pregnant, I was anxious to know all about baby’s development this time around and wanted to make sure I kept as many anxious feelings as possible at bay. The next part of the whole thing I wanted to know more about was the birth and ways to cope well with it, and that was when I discovered hypnobirthing. Being a first time mama I then felt like I could do with a bit of advice on looking after a newborn. Of course I had plenty of people I could go to with any questions I had, but I knew I would feel more prepared and confident if I sought out as much information as possible. Here are the books I used over the course of my pregnancy and into the first week’s of parenthood.
First-Time Parent by Lucy Atkins
This is a really useful practical guide to looking after a baby when you’re doing it for the first time. Although I’ve been around babies a lot over the years, that is not the same of needing to take care of your own little one 24/7 once you bring them home from the hospital. It gives practical advice on everything from sleeping and feeding to help when baby cries and what to do in the beginning with a newborn. It gives information on how baby should be developing and even valuable guides on your life after baby comes along and how work might fit into it all. I’ve folded down lots of pages in this book for future reference as it gives advice on flying with a baby and some discipline tips, which I’ve yet to find in another book yet. Definitely invaluable for a first-timer!
The Gentle Sleep Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith
I bought this a couple of months into parenthood, when I was looking for some advice on Ella’s sleeping habits. Being a breastfed baby, she was waking a lot through the night and I was looking for some guidance on sleeping patterns and what might help her be comfortable enough to sleep longer at night. I was in no rush to sleep train her and definitely didn’t want to leave her to cry at night, so this sounded like a good book to look at. It focuses on the BEDTIME practical sleep tips and gives advice on ways to nurture good sleeping habits. Honestly, I didn’t come across anything ground-breaking in this book and felt like I was doing a lot of the suggested things already, but I did come away feeling like I was doing things right and baby girl would settle into good sleeping habits if we encouraged more of the same. Plus, now she seems to be getting into a good rhythm, so this book likely reinforced this.
Why Hypno-Birthing Matters by Katrina Berry
This was my first introduction into hypno-birthing and all of its benefits. It’s more of an information giving book, rather than a practical guide, but I was okay with that as I went into more depth later on and this was the perfect taster. If you’re looking for the history of this type of labour and birth and you want to decide whether it’s right for you, I highly recommend giving this a read. It’s short, to-the-point and will give you the basics before you decide how to move forward with your birthing plan. This definitely reinforced my desire to use hypno-birthing techniques in labour and I was very happy with all the information it gave me.
The Day-By-Day Pregnancy Book by Dr. Maggie Blott
This is a fascinating book for any mum (or dad) looking to follow their developing baby through each stage of pregnancy. There is a page for every day of the 40 weeks and you can find out so much information about caring for yourself and baby throughout. There are also large sections at the back dedicated to labour and birth, looking after your new baby and concerns and complications. This was all valuable extras and I took time to read through it all. One of the best things about this book are the stunning photos, they really are gorgeous and this is a book I highly recommend for anyone going through pregnancy and beyond.
Your Baby Week by Week by Simone Cave and Dr. Caroline Fertleman
This is a great weekly guide on sleeping, crying, feeding, nappies, washing, development and playing. There are also sections each chapter on when to see the doctor and what’s happening to mum, which are both super useful. Each week has special safety tips and a spotlight on different issues, and I religiously read each section every week to see what was going on and taking advice on things that were going on with both baby and I. I took so many useful things from this book and I would use it to give me an idea of how much Ella sound be eating, sleeping, how many nappies I should be changing, etc. It’s such a simple book and yet felt so valuable in those first weeks. It goes up to 6 months, by which time I felt like I was pretty clued up on what was going on, so I really didn’t need it anymore, so that was perfectly timed and I’d actually probably use this with future children to refresh my memory on a few things.
Becoming Mum by Dr. Koa Whittingham
This book is much less a practical guide on looking after baby and is much more about preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for becoming a mum. It’s about going into motherhood with a calm and positive attitude, ensuring you take care of yourself in order to become the best possible mother to your new baby. It asks a lot of questions of you and you are encouraged to write down your thoughts and feelings, which is useful if you have anxieties, and you can come back to them at a later time to see how far you’ve come. There are different sections related to different motherhood situations – mindful mothering, social support, taking care of yourself – and can be applied to many different kinds of women, so that there’s something for everyone. This is a good read for your own mental health, it especially helped me in the beginning following our loss.