Taking Charge of Your Fertility

"This is a book that nearly every woman can benefit from"

Women today are misled on the control we can have over our own bodies.  We are told we will not be able to avoid pregnancy unless we buy some chemical form of birth control, or that the only way to successfully conceive after infertility is to take some pills or endure invasive treatments.  This simply is not so.  We have always had the key to unlocking our own fertility cycles, but modern medicine has worked hard to encourage our total dependence on its methods.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility shows women how to take complete control of their own family planning practices by simply investing a few minutes per day and being aware of their bodies.  For anyone who has suffered through missed period after missed period, wondering when that positive pregnancy test would finally come, this book can be a lifesaver.  Learning about our natural ovulation cycles, the way our bodies change during those times, and how to detect even the slightest hints that ovulation is occurring can mean the difference between that constant disappointment and an ecstatic "We're pregnant!"For women who are hesitant to rely on hormonal contraception, Taking Charge of Your Fertility can allow you to live your life without being tied to pills or medicines.  The same principles that allow a couple to conceive will allow a woman to avoid conceiving by refraining from sex or using protection during ovulation.

This is a book that nearly every woman can benefit from, and is the kind you want to pass on to your friends to share the valuable information within.  If you want to take back control of your fertility, you don't want to miss this book.

The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy

by Vicki Iovine

During pregnancy, especially our first pregnancy, many of us wish we had that close girlfriend to turn to with the embarrassing questions like, “My boobs feel like they’re going to pop – do they ever stop swelling?”  For those of you who had this close friend, you know just how comforting it can be to talk about the weirdest, most secret of pregnancy problems with someone who has been there.

The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy gives readers that close confidant – one who is willing to share her deepest pregnancy secrets and best tricks at avoiding some of the more common troubles that plague nearly every pregnancy.  Author Vicki Iovine doesn’t sugar coat her words, but lays out answers to things such as bladder control, sex and stretch marks in such a way that you feel as if she is talking to her best friend – you.On a personal level, many of us won’t have much in common with Vicki, a record producer’s wife and supermodels’ friend, but still she manages to connect on such a personal level that it’s easy to forget she may be worlds apart from our situation.  In pregnancy, there are no elite, and the answers given in this book can help any pregnant woman.

The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy has a wide range of mixed reviews, with some readers calling it “offensive” and others saying it is “full of all the right information”.  Still, most readers appreciate the humor and information in the book, given that it has 1,175 reviews averaging 3.5 stars.

If you are looking for solid facts and a step-by-step guide, you will be better served elsewhere, but for a light, fun read to pass those long nine months, The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy is an excellent choice.


Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn is an in-depth guidebook to all things related to birthing.  Since its first publication in 1979, it has sold more than one million copies and been the recipient of numerous literary awards.  Billed as "The single best book for understanding pregnancy and birth”, this book covers everything from complementary medicine such as acupuncture to newborn testing procedures.I am currently expecting my third child, and there are many details in this book I wish I had known with the first.  While you learn much of it through experience, it is nice to have a little hand-holding to walk you through some of the things you don’t even know you need to know.

There are so many variables with labor and delivery that it’s important to know as much as possible before you get to that point.  For instance, if your doctor asks you, will you give consent for an episiotomy?  It never occurred to me until I was in the delivery room.  Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn has a section to help you complete a birth plan, gives you pointers on choosing a doula, and walks you through the details of having a home birth.

Having experienced birth at home and at the hospital, I would give anything to have known all of my options before having my first baby so that I could make an informed decision that better fits our personal philosophies.

Almost any expecting mother, father or couple can find useful information in this book, and with 4.5 star ratings on Amazon, many people already have.

Fathers Home Birth Handbook

While many of the books surrounding the topic of birth, and especially home birth, center around the mother’s experience, Fathers Home Birth Handbook offers the unique perspective of the fathers.Featuring birth stories from fathers of all backgrounds, this book gives partners of home-birthing mothers a guidebook to help them through the questions they may have about this increasingly popular birthing practice.

If you are a first time dad and your partner is considering home birth, there are probably many questions you have about the safety of home birth, how to support your partner, and when to know it is time to go to the hospital.  Fathers Home Birth Handbook gives insights into these questions and offers information on current research to help assuage your fears.

Not only is this book a lifesaving resource for would-be fathers, it is also a must-have for any midwife or doula’s library, giving home birth care practitioners informed answers to help out with many common questions the father may have.

The Mother magazine, Midwifery Today, The Green Parent magazine and The Independent Direct all give it high reviews, calling this book “quite brilliant” and “essential reading”.

Fathers Home Birth Handbook is available as an e-book with Amazon’s Kindle format, and as a paperback, with prices ranging from $6.99 for the Kindle version to $12.49 in paperback format on Amazon.

If your partner is concerned about home birth, this book is a great gift choice for providing solid answers and birth stories he can relate to.

Active Birth : The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally by Janet Balaskas

Experience the Power of a Natural Birth

Recommended by doulas and midwives, Active Birth : The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally by Janet Balaskas is a must-have book for anyone considering having a natural birth.  Since time began, women have been having babies with little assistance.
Active Birth gives us a valuable resource on positions, relaxation techniques and even helpful exercises we can do to prepare for the birth of our baby long before the event.  Focusing on physically preparing your body for childbirth, this book is presented in a straightforward, “here’s how it is” format and features detailed instructions for both mom and partner.
Touted as the single book to get if you could choose only one birthing book, Active Birth is a priceless resource, and the author’s passion for her work is evident in every line of text. 
When a woman follows her natural instincts, she will try to squat down or be upright for the birth of her baby.  In our modern Western world, we are being taught that we must be prone to deliver our babies, which not only goes against nature, but against gravity and common sense.  Janet Balaskas advocates a return to the instinctual position of being upright while giving birth, much to the relief of moms who have been stuck on their backs for too long in traditional birthing models.
Janet also focuses on how important the bond between mother and baby is, and how we should be nurturing it right away instead of treating the process of birth as a procedure that requires constant medical intervention.
If you are looking to play an active role in the birth of your baby, read Active Birth to help set you on the path toward total involvement in the beautiful experience of a natural birth.

Mothering Magazine's Having a Baby, Naturally

People who trust Mothering magazine know that it’s a source of sound, whole child raising advice where you can find plenty of information about attachment parenting, natural child birth, and many forms of pregnancy advice. For a complete guide about birthing, taking care of yourself during pregnancy, and baby care immediately after birth, Mothering Magazine’s Having a Baby, Naturally: The Mothering Magazine Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth is a wonderful resource.

The book covers nearly every topic a new mother could find herself worrying about, from what to eat during pregnancy to the emotional and physical changes she can expect. Testing for birth defects, prematurity, and birth locations are also covered.

One of the best things about the book is that all of the advice within is presented in a suggestion form rather than a list of rules, which many experts claim to know about. The information is left for the parents to absorb and use as they see fit. It also discusses a few tips about balancing work and family life, something that every modern family needs to think about.

You can get a copy of the book from Amazon.com for as little as $2.65 used. Collectible copies may range up to $30.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

ISBN-10: 0553381156, ISBN-13: 978-0553381153

Filled with inspiring birth stories and practical advice, this invaluable resource includes:

- Reducing the pain of labor without drugs - and the miraculous roles touch and massage play
- What really happens during labor
- Orgasmic birth - making birth pleasurable
- Episiotomy - is it really necessary?
- Common methods of inducing labor - and which to avoid at all costs
- Tips for maximizing your chances of an unmedicated labor and birth
- How to avoid postpartum bleeding - and depression
- The risks of anesthesia and cesareans - what your doctor
doesn't necessarily tell you
- The best ways to work with doctors and/or birth care providers
- How to create a safe, comfortable environment for
birth in any setting, including a hospital
- And much more

Froggy's Sister

As much as we’re always seeking knowledge when it comes to having a new baby—from birthing to the terrible twos to growth charts and behavior management—we often need help with our older children as well. When I was a child, I remember resenting my parents something awful when they brought home not one but two little sisters, two years apart. I was six when my middle sister was born and I did not want siblings. I was perfectly happy being the only child and getting 100% of the attention. I don’t remember talking about it much with my parents or babysitters, except for voicing my own opposition.

It is pretty important, however, to discuss new babies with older children, even they act like they’re perfectly okay with having a new brother or sister. They need to be reassured that they will still be loved as well as cared for, but that the new baby will demand quite a bit of attention. It will also be unable to play for a long time. It can be pretty difficult for younger children to grasp this concept.

One way to help explain is through the use of age-appropriate children’s books, such as Froggy’s Baby Sister. In the book, Froggy, a sweet, spunky little frog who is full of energy, is excited about his mother’s pregnancy. He hopes that she will give birth to a boy whom he can teach to swim, play soccer, and have fun with. He is very disappointed when the baby is a girl (he even says, “Yuck!”), and he just can’t understand why he can’t feed her flies or take care of her himself.

He quickly adjusts, however, and is excited about his baby sister. He wants to teach the baby, Polly, how to play on a pogo stick, jump off a swing, and play in the pond—but she is just a baby and too little to do any of those things. Even more frustrated, Froggy declares he is tired of waiting for her to grow up, so he’s moving in with his friend and “never coming back!” I remember telling my mother that when my sisters were born, too.

But right before he leaves, he discovers that Polly, no longer a tadpole, has grown legs. He is excited about her again and starts to help take care of her. She quickly grows attached to her big brother, and he grows attached to her as well. All of that waiting paid off.

Young kids will delight in sharing their experiences with this young frog and his baby sister. His story will help them realize just how worth it is to wait for little babies to get bigger—and how wonderful it is to be loved and depended on as an older sibling.


Birthing From Within

People credit Birthing From Within as their guide to having the birth they always dreamed of having. A holistic approach to childbirth, it is written by Pam England, a certified nurse midwife and registered nurse, and helps take the modern approach to birthing—the hospitals, the clinical detachment, the money and drugs and impersonality of it all—and spins it around back to its personal, emotional roots.

Birthing, after all, is a truly emotional process—one that every woman and man should be able to fully participate in. Imagine being able to do it all your way, without someone telling you that your baby must be delivered a certain way, or that you cannot be the first person to hold your newborn.

Birthing From Within is a birthing class in a book, designed to bring the psychological, spiritual, and emotional aspects of giving birth back to motherhood (and fatherhood). Too often are we told to do things the “right” way, which often takes out any personal connection we have with our child’s first day on Earth. England goes through several methods that people have used to bring back these aspects to their own birthing experiences, and, though she recommends only using them for ideas—as every experience should be unique and special to the family doing it—they are all adaptable for anyone who chooses to undergo them.

There are plenty of activities, exercises, and advice to help new mothers to stay in tune with their own bodies, feelings, and babies. England advises mothers to continually work with their healthcare providers as well as their own intuitive feelings to develop a birthing plan—and an overall pregnancy care—that will work for their own lifestyles and wishes. It’s a truly lovely, personal book that anyone who wishes to have an “unconditional” or nontraditional birthing experience should certainly explore. Even those who don’t wish to have a different kind of birthing plan may wish to read the book, simply to keep their options open.

Now, England’s book is not for everyone—not even all of the people who want to do childbirth in such a spiritual manner. Many women, unfortunately, suffer from painful diseases and pregnancy complications that, unfortunately, do require the help of a hospital and a team of doctors. It’s always advisable to continue with regular prenatal care to monitor your health as well as the health of your baby so you can make truly wise decisions about how to deliver and bring your lovely baby into the world.

The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth

When you’re having a baby, you want the most accurate, reliable information possible. Yes, you want advice and knowledge from experts—that’s a given, right? You want to know what to medically expect, what is scientifically happening to your body and your baby, and how the birthing process works. A good doctor can tell you all about it and answer all of your questions.

But you also want to hear it from someone who’s been there, done that. If your OB/GYN is a male, that’s not likely to be the case; and even if not, you don’t want worries or concerns smoothed over—or worse, the experience to be ballooned out into some insurmountable fear. You want to hear some friendly truth-telling from a mother who knows what labor is like.

In The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth, you get both. Written by a pediatrician-wife team with eight children (William and Martha Sears, authors of the popular The Baby Book and creators of the attachment parenting practice), the experience of birth is covered in a complete, exhaustive fashion that doesn’t intimidate.

The book has three sections every new mom is likely to appreciate: Preparing for Birth, Easing Pain in Labor, and Experiencing Birth. Everything from water births to home births, cesarean sections to vaginal births, and birthing plans to drugs are covered in these sections. It’s not just designed to inform, however; it is written to specifically put parents’ worries to rest. Sure, it contains some scary things that can happen during birth, as any birth can take a scary turn; but it also contains personal stories from 14 different births, illustrating how no two births are the same.

Both Sears bring something more to the table than their credentials suggest as well. William’s background as a professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Medicine helps add a teaching element to the book, while Martha’s an expert on labor and childbirth outsider her own experience as well. One of the most reassuring things that the duo teaches is that every mother has options during her labor.

Be warned, however, that if you land an older copy that some of the research is outdated. Martha Sears also seems to have had relatively short labors during each of her pregnancies; read that with a grain of salt, knowing that many labors do take longer. It’s always best to check with your own doctor regarding your own situation before going by what any book tells you. That said, this one does cover a lot of the bases and provides many reassuring pain techniques and stories to help you through your own labor.