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I remember devouring every piece of (holistically) written information regarding pregnancy, when Lou was taking shape in my belly some 4 years or so ago. I delved deep into the world of being with child, both out of personal interest and out of naturopathic curiosity. I learned about plant-based prenatal nutrition, naturopathic treatments for common complaints and the ins and outs of prenatal yoga. I gathered information, tried things out, chose my personal path, gained wisdom and found the things that worked for me. As much as I had read and learned about pregnancy, as little did I read or learn about birth. I had full trust in my body and its ability to instinctively carry me through the delivery. I did not feel the need nor urge to research it and prepare too much. I did some yoga-based birth prep classes with a teacher, and experienced a birth prep partner-class with my husband. But that was basically it.
This second pregnancy does not only feel different, my mental point of gravity differs too. There’s a deep sense of resting with the process of pregnancy and -having experienced its magic and power- a profound longing and interest in learning more about the transitional deed of giving birth. As a lifelong lover of words and books I searched for some new material to quench my thirst.
Below I’ll share a few books I’ve read recently. I talk about their unique vision and the sparks that resonated with me. Perhaps some of their words and suggestions will spark something in you too, give clarity where and when needed, quench your thirst and deepen your personal and distinctive experience of becoming a mama, or yet again.
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HOLISTIC BOOKS ABOUT PREGNANCY, BIRTH AND BEYOND.
Nurture by Erica Cohen
This modern guide to pregnancy, birth and early motherhood launched late last year. It is written by Erica Cohen, a doula from Los Angeles who is also the co-founder of LOOM. The book has a gorgeous cover and an appealing, short and to the point title. Erica has a holistic, real and modern outlook on pregnancy, giving birth and motherhood. The book includes month by month pregnancy guides with a bit of nutritional information, some selfcare tips and a few mindfulness exercises. It talks about the various choices for birth, what they entail and how you can make them your own. It gives information about the weeks following birth and the various ways to nurture both yourself and your baby once it’s here. I’d call the book inclusive and non-judgemental, which makes it feel inviting, supportive and warm. It did not hold much new information for me personally, but I believe it makes for a lovely introductory book for first time mama’s to be.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
An EPIC book written by one of America’s leading widwives, who has over three decades of experience. Women travel all the way across the States to give birth, guided by Ina May and her team of midwives at a village called The Farm. This particular book focuses solely on the transitional act of giving birth, as unmedicated as possible. Ina May has a deep understanding how supporting women holistically can optimalize their confidence, take away fear and maximise their chance of giving birth naturally. Much needed in a country where almost one third (!!!) of the women give birth by caesarian.
Every word Ina May wrote resonated and felt deeply empowering. She made me laugh out loud, left me nodding vigorously, gave me lightbulbs and kept me up ‘till late. This is one of those books that provides you with tons of valuable information, without ever becoming a selfhelp-type birthing guide. It gives you a deep trust in your own abilities as a woman and some welcome familiarity. For example, Ina May describes how shaking a womans thights and buttocks can help her release and open, when dilation halts. The funny thing is, I was instinctively doing this shaking of the thights and buttocks (Shakira style) during the first few months of this pregnancy. And I hadn’t even heard of the book then, nor had I heard anyone else talk about it. I did it because it felt good and supportive, almost like I was reminding myself how it was done. Pulling ancient practices up towards the surface and letting my body become familiar with them. I can’t but call this book a true page turner and one of my favourite books about birthing, so far.
Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful by Gurmukh
This golden oldie is timeless, really. Written by world renowned yoga teacher Gurmukh, the book holds a Kundalini based program to promote a healthy pregnancy and natural delivery. The book feels almost like a diary as it joins together so many of Gurmukhs personal experiences and anecdotes. Some I find beautifully enriching, like the notion that a soul enters the body 120 days after conception and the anecdote of a feast to celebrate this event. But in general I find that the personal stories distract and take away some of the books strength. I did have a little aha moment when reading it though. Gurmukh talks about how the way you were born can influence the way you unconsciously feel about giving birth. My own birth was a little ‘difficult’, for both my mama and I. My mother has always been very open about my birth and I grew up hearing my birthing story, but I had never thought it could actually, in some kind of subconscious way, still have an impact on me now. In the book Gurmukh does not merely address these kinds of realities, she also gives practices to help you heal them. This makes bountiful, beautiful, blissful a book specifically for those interested in the spiritual and yogic side of pregnancy.
My favourite pregnancy book so far: The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care by Sally Fallon. Although I don’t follow the dietary complete guidelines of Weston Price (I eat plant-based) there has not been a book more interesting and informative to me than this one by Sally Fallon. It mainly speaks nutrition, but also includes many other health and wellbeing subjects parents (to be) come across.
My favourite birthing book so far: Yes, you guessed right! The above mentioned Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth!
Still on my ‘to read list’: The first forty days by Heng Ou. A book that focuses on the period immediately after giving birth and how the ancient tradition of allowing rest and nourishing the new mother is still, in this age, so very necessary in recovering fully from the marathon of pregnancy and giving birth.
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