For those of you who are embarking on your own journey into parenthood (or hope to have this adventure someday in the future!), I wanted to share what resources I’ve found most helpful in preparing for mamahood:
Purposeful Conception: Preparing Your Mind, Body and Life for Pregnancy: This online course is administered by one of my most favorite bloggers and kindred spirits, Sara, of Feeding the Soil and A $2000 Wedding fame. She’s one of the bloggers that I’ve been following the longest, and she’s a person whom I trust explicitly when it comes to making decisions that relate to family, health, and personal development. I couldn’t recommend this course more, precisely because it gave me (and Jord!) the opportunity to do a lot of the “big thinking” and have many discussions related to conception and to raising a child before we started trying to conceive. To me, the cost of the course was more than fair – I feel so grateful for the work that Sara put in to administering the course, and I learned so, so much about myself, about Jord, about our parenting goals, and about conceiving and raising a child.
Ovuview (Phone App for Android): This app helped me to keep track of my menstrual cycles and highlighted my ovulation times each month, so that my husband and I could maximize our efforts to conceive a child. We were lucky enough to conceive within just three months of trying, and I attribute that success to A) the Purposeful Conception course that I took in May – two months before we began trying to conceive; B) the Ovuview app, for teaching me about ovulation; C) the What to Expect Before You’re Expecting book (see below); and D) some great red wine. :)
What To Expect Before You’re Expecting: As I mentioned above, I greatly attribute our early success in conceiving a child to a variety of resources, including this book. If you’ve never really read much about tracking your menstrual cycle, about ovulation, about the female anatomy or about the biological processes associated with conceiving a baby, this book will be an eye-opener for you, like it was for me! I appreciated the honest and lighthearted writing style of the author, and I knew that many a woman has trusted the pregnancy book in this series, so I felt confident in picking it up. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.
What To Expect When You’re Expecting: After we conceived a baby and I took that positive pregnancy test, I was SO excited to purchase this classic and iconic pregnancy manual. I liked this book primarily because it gave me something to look forward to every four weeks, which is how the book was organized (into four-week segments): reading about what I could expect out of pregnancy for the month ahead! I found the similar lighthearted and honest writing style in this manual as in the Before You’re Expecting guide, and I appreciated knowing what to expect – pun intended – particularly in terms of my doctor’s appointments throughout my pregnancy.
BabyCenter My Pregnancy (Phone App for Android): Shortly after learning that I was pregnant, I downloaded BabyCenter’s My Pregnancy phone app for my Android phone. What I loved about this app was that it gave me something to look at or think about each day, which worked to keep my mind focused on the end prize of pregnancy: the cute little boy that we call L! :) I also loved the BabyCenter forums, which, to be truthful, provided endless amounts of entertainment and laughter. Girls be crazy on those forums, y’all, and when you’re pregnant and feeling totally not like yourself, I think it’s totally necessary to remind yourself that there are mamas-to-be out there who are much crazier than you! :)
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding: This was the first breastfeeding book that I read, and what was so refreshing about the book was two-fold: A) the book is affiliated with the La Leche League, a worldwide breastfeeding advocacy organization that has many small groups around the world that exist to help women to breastfeed their babies. While I didn’t know much about the La Leche League (LLL) prior to reading this book, I came to learn that LLL advocates for breastfeeding without asserting that there is one right way to breastfeed; instead, this book takes the approach that the book exists as an informational resource, but that a mother’s instincts are so much more powerful. What this means is that this guide presents helpful information about breastfeeding, but more importantly, it empowers you to trust yourself!
The second reason that I loved this book: B) the Tech Support guide, as well as the perforated tear sheets in the back of the book. A few weeks ago, I woke up and felt pain in my left breast. I nursed L, but the pain still didn’t subside, so where did I turn? To the LLL book’s Tech Support section on breastfeeding. I wasn’t sure if I had a plugged milk duct, or if I was experiencing mastitis (eek!), but the Tech Support book helped to ease my mind at 4AM, when I awoke. If that isn’t a clear indication of this book’s value to me, I don’t know what else I could say! What’s more: the book also features tear sheets that you can literally tear out of the book and stash in useful spaces around your home. Examples of tear sheets include baby poop indicators, feeding charts and more.
A note about the breastfeeding books that I’ve read in general: I read two books (the other one I read was this one, and sadly, it wasn’t super helpful), and what I found most frustrating was that the authors of both books treat breastfeeding as a delicate relationship between mother and baby that can be impacted by medical interventions, such as epidurals and c-sections. As you may know, from reading L’s birth story, I had both an epidural and a c-section, and yet I’ve been blessed with a wonderful, fulfilling and pain-free breastfeeding relationship with my son. While I’m aware that medical interventions can impact breastfeeding, I’m proof that no matter what your birth experience, you can have a fulfilling breastfeeding relationship with your child, should you choose to pursue it passionately! In other words, I didn’t appreciate what I considered the “scare tactics” regarding the effects of medical interventions, as described in these books. But, I was still able to glean super helpful information from these books, so I’m confident that you can, too!
The Happiest Baby on the Block: Jord and I both read this book before L was born, and we also watched the DVD based on this book before we went home from the hospital. I highly recommend both the book and the DVD! What we learned from Dr. Karp’s method was how to calm our baby by employing the Five S’s: Swaddle, Side/Stomach (a way of holding the child), Sshhhing, Swinging, and Sucking. Of these five soothing methods, we’ve tried them all, and it’s amazing how quickly L calms down! Sometimes, we’re able to just swaddle L, but at other times, we need to employ more than one method at once to get him to calm down. Basically, Dr. Karp’s method of soothing a baby has been invaluable to us.
I hope that this list of resources is helpful to you! :) I plan to write another post of baby gear that I’ve found useful, so be on the lookout for that!