back to school: pregnancy tips and books
Today, I'd like to talk about learning. Isn't it fun? But, do you know what's not fun? That on Amazon alone, there are 84,000+ different pregnancy books available. Add in all the advice you get from your doctor, your family and your friends -- not to mention the internet -- and information overload becomes quite the understatement. It's an information avalanche.
When you first tell the world you're pregnant, the inundation of (mostly) friendly advice can make you feel like you're climbing Everest with an ice pick. Your progress through the onslaught of tips and tricks is slow, overwhelming and fairly stressful. One person says you should DEFINITELY buy the Halo SleepSack swaddle over regular swaddle cloths. Another praises the merits of the Dr. Brown's bottles over Tommee Tippee. WTF is a swaddle anyway?!
And then you wonder, how should you keep track of everything? Pinterest? Google Docs? Some sort of a symbolic quilt (which also doubles nicely when you need to cover yourself and hide from the world)?
KEEPING TRACK OF INFO
Everyone learns and files information differently, but what worked for me in the early days was archiving all emails with baby tips into a new folder. That way, when we were finally ready to tackle registering, for example, I just scrolled through and found all of the pertinent lists.
I also started a Pinterest page for all things related to baby where I could save handy lists, like what to pack in your hospital bag, or, at what age should I expect my daughter to start appreciating white truffles over black?
Finally, I have a master Google Doc (which Mike can also edit), which has a few on going to-do lists. There was a section for baby nurses, with all of their info (name, contact information, price, references, etc.) or a list of the various classes we wanted to take. Then, as classes were completed, or when we booked our baby nurse, we could go back in and edit down to only the info we needed.
Now, apart from advice from doctors, friends and family, there are two other main categories of baby knowledge (for us, at least): books and classes. I'll tackle the former in this post.
The only pregnancy guide I read was given to me by my good friend Liz, and I have since told EVERYONE -- pregnant or not -- about it. The book is called Expecting Better and it's written by Emily Oster, who is an economist who also happens to have been pregnant (Wow! What are the odds?). It's actually not a guide, per se, but a compendium of information on everything from the best time to conceive to how bad it really is to eat raw fish or soft cheeses when you've got an extra passenger on board. Rather than telling you what to do, Oster explains what the studies have said and lets you make your own decisions from there. I can credit her book with everything from us hiring a doula for labor to deciding to take a pre-natal yoga class. Both those things, in case you're wondering, significantly lower your chances of having a c-section. She's also a great writer, which makes it an easy read.
When we signed up for our childbirth class, we were also asked to pick up two books: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. Juliet! Are you planning on a natural labor? Well guys, it's TBD, but I'm not ruling it out entirely. Do I know I want to avoid a pitocin induction and a c-section though? Absolutely.
Anyway, yes, both of these books definitely veer towards the crunchier end of childbirth tomes (the Bradley one more so than Ina May's), but I found Ina May's in particular to be very helpful, even if you're not planning on doing any sort of natural birth. What's great about her book is twofold: not only is she really the foremost midwife in the country, with thousands of births under her belt, but she's also very labor positive. What I mean by that is that she presents labor and childbirth not as a medical condition that needs to be "fixed", but as a necessary (and beautiful!) part of your pregnancy. In my opinion, there is not enough celebrating of this stage of pregnancy and way more fear mongering. How often do you hear someone talk about her labor in a way that isn't really fucking scary? Almost never, in my experience. So, Ina May's book made me realize that there's nothing wrong with looking towards labor with a positive and calm attitude; you don't have to approach it with this "Omigod, this is going to be the worst 24 (48?) hours of my life and I just want it to be over" mindset.
Do I know what kind of birth I'm going to have? No, of course not. It could be easy, it could be very hard, but I can CHOOSE how I want to navigate my own emotions in regards to it. It is my decision whether to go into the labor process excited or scared or stressed or hungry (always), and, guys, I'm choosing happy.
The TL;DR? Knowledge is power, guys. And especially with pregnancy, where everything that happens to your body can be weird and gross, but also awesome and fun, the more you know about your own body, the more you are capable of making the best decisions for you.
Alright, stepping down off the soapbox. I'd love to know everyone's thoughts, though!