As I hit my 40 week mark in my third pregnancy, I'm thinking about how different each time around the baby block has been for me. The first was new new and overwhelming; the second was learning to juggle; and this time I'm working on asking for and receiving help and trusting and honoring the work of my body.
Over the last nearly 5 years, I've read countless books and articles from pregnancy to parenting, I've watched all the documentaries on Netflix and Amazon under "search word: 'birth'"; had hundreds of hours of birth classes and meetings with midwives, OBs, doulas and holistic providers; leaned on and learned from mama friends nearly every damn day; and have ultimately gone through a bumpy yet beautiful transformation as a mother.
I definitely DO NOT have it all figured out, still very much a messy work in progress over here, but I wanted to share with you a shortlist of the resources that have gotten me through and helped me the most. I hope this list can be helpful, it's all for you to leave or take with zero judgement and all the love in the world. XO
Whether this is your first pregnancy or you fifth, read all the Ina May Gaskin you can get your hands on. While her midwifery model emphasizes physiologically natural childbirth (aka no interventions and no drugs) whatever birth you are planning for, Ina May is a birth unicorn, her book is full of beautiful and positive birth stories, and she's gonna make you feel like the super woman you are.
Speaking of interventions, we have a big problem with that here in the US, which if you didn't already know, has the highest rate of maternal mortality among developed countries (3x the rate of Canada, for example). However you're doing your pregnancy and birth, if you're going to be in this ecosystem as a pregnant mother, you've got to educate yourself so that you can make the medical choices which are best for you and your baby. Pushed is a heavy read, but this birth thing we're doing is pretty major, too and it's best to go into it with eyes wide open.
There is a lot of confusion out there about what the hell a doula is, what she does and why you should hire one to attend your birth. While she is not a medical provider and will not make medical decisions for you, a good doula is going to help you make informed decisions around your pregnancy and birth; she will be your guide to quality resources from pregnancy to postpartum; she will love on you with critical emotional and physical support during your labor and birth; and she will quarterback your team of family and friends as necessary to help you have the birth experience you desire. Let me tell you, a good doula is ALL the things and no matter how great your partner, mother or best friend is prepared to be for you, if you can find a way to afford a doula HIRE HER. It will depend on your location, her level of qualifications and how in demand her services, but the average doula will run you between one and two thousand dollars. Insurance is not likely going to cover any of her fee but this is something you can consider starting a fundraising page for to share with family and friends as a part of your baby registry.
I took my intro to birth class after having two kids. It was a 24 hour class spread over eight weeks with a teacher, a textbook, a workbook, even homework! It was me and a dozen first time pregnant moms (and our birth coaches/partners), and you know what, I learned a ton and came out of it making actually informed decisions about my birth, baby and body for the first time. I took a Bradley Method class but there's something out there for everyone; bottom line is, you will be exponentially more informed, less afraid and I'd bet far more likely to have a better birth experience.
This app is like a doula in your pocket and you need to download it, stat. Based in science and written like it's your bff talking to you, LMH is designed to lovingly coach the postpartum mom through the weeds. From what vitamins to take after baby to postpartum sex, these are the things nobody tells you and you need to know. The best money you'll ever spend on an app, download it here.
There's a reason women are raving about this book, Magmama knows how to heal women. I actually read this in my third trimester because a big part of doing things differently in my third pregnancy had to do with creating a postpartum plan, which is exactly what this book helped me do.
For insured mamas, there's a free breast pump with your name on it. But actually getting it through your insurance company can be a nightmare, which is why I cannot say enough good stuff about Ashland Women's Health. All I had to do was send them my insurance info and a Rx from my midwife and a pump showed up on my doorstep a month or so later, all for free.
For nursing moms who want non-judgmental info based in science, this is the place on the internet for you. Instead of Googling your breastfeeding questions, go straight to Kellymom.
If you have a vagina and have given birth, the Vagina Whisperer is your new best friend. De-stigmatizing the birth traumas that often leave us with issues peeing, pooing, sexing, etc., The Vagina Whisperer provides daily tips on pelvic floor health while also keeping it real. Authored by a physical therapist and mom of two, the struggle of the working/pumping/tired mom is all too relatable. Follow, like, repeat.
Work wasn't working for women so Annie and Anna got together and decided to make some changes. Werk is a platform connecting working moms to flexible jobs. The future is now and there is no reason work needs to look like it did 10, 20 or in many cases, 100 years ago, The truth is, as a mom you learn fast that you can't do it all (nor should you because, again, it's the future and men are caregivers, too), but the reality is that this stage of life is hardest on women, especially working women, and Werk exists to change that.
Speaking of working moms, these are two books that breakdown the nitty gritty of what to expect and how to best prepare. Work Pump Repeat specifically focuses on pumping in the workplace, so breastfeeding mamas, this one is for you.
My favorite parenting resource. Check it out because even if it's not ALL for you, some of it will be.
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