Pregnancy - Reading up

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As soon as I started telling people that there was a bean on a scan, the advice on what to read, eat or just about think began. I keep reminding myself that this is all with the best of intentions and uncontrollable excitement. For me, personally, it’s been a mixture of wonderment; utterly magical and also pretty overwhelming, so there have been plenty of moments of needing to retreat into myself and just be grateful, polite, and hopefully not let the hormones/sleep deprivation get the better of me when people share a(nother) graphic labour story.

Being the first of friends and relatives of our generation made it a seemingly daunting time. Turns out the fear of all the risks never seems to go away, no matter how huge the bump. I wanted to understand things and find out all there could be to know, without any potentially loaded opinions, and in my own time.

For those who might be in a similar situation, and without wanting to preach in any way, here’s what made it onto my reading list – some chosen, some sent, but all seemed worth a look…

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Pregnancy, The Naked Truth - a refreshingly honest guide to pregnancy and birth, by Anya Hayes

Not wanting to jinx things, I bought this just after the 12-week thumbs up, but before it was public knowledge to the gossip columns of the countryside, I was increasingly keen to know ‘what to expect’, how to feel, what was normal really…

This book was great. Written down seemed to be everything I was feeling and thinking, reassuring me that everything was totally normal, and whilst everyone and their mother has an opinion and advice, it was important for me to see that it was ok to struggle with that, and to remind myself to take my gut instinct as the lead on things, for now at least…

There are gory bits as well, but it’s pregnancy - the end goal of the nine months is to go into labour, so it’s hardly going to be a Keats poem. But done in a way that isn’t too full on for those early stages of pregnancy – a godsend. It also made a phenomenal coaster, as you might have noticed.

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Parenting The Sh*t Out Of Life, by Mother Pukka and Papa Pukka

Anna Whitehouse (AKA ‘Mother Pukka’) has been something of a girl crush for a while now, especially since meeting a year or so ago. She is unashamedly transparent and makes cocking up look so utterly charming, along with celebrating the little and large successes in the daily grind, so when I clocked that she was writing a book with her husband Matt Farquarson (AKA ‘Papa Pukka’), I was pre-ordering on Amazon like there was no tomorrow.

The book didn’t disappoint. There were moments to induce tears - good, bad and ugly (blame the hormones). There are great lists and suggestions from Matt some I scribbled down for myself, some I shared with the mister and they’re now firmly part of his Super Dad plan. He actually read this once I’d finished; apparently I made it look “funny”. Not sure I had too much to do with that, I must say.

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The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander & Iben Dissing Sandahl

Following our trip to Denmark earlier in the year, combined with my aunt and someone I used to work with being something like Danish superheroes for me, I have been intrigued by the wonders of the Danish approach to everything.

I loved this book – such an interesting insight into the often instinctual approach the Danes have to raising and connecting with children. There’s plenty to be taken from this, I’m going to be re-reading (or at least attempting to) over midnight feeds to refresh how to stay Hyggelig.

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Babies, by Anne Enright

Whilst I was slightly apprehensive from the reviews of this book, it was an incredibly thoughtful gift and a tiny book, so I was keen to try it out. I’m not shy of honest accounts, and this certainly is that, but this just felt a bit too negative for me, a bit more of a moan than the shoulder of support I was looking for - not quite the “funny, eloquent and unsentimental” read I was hoping for from the synopsis. I didn’t finish it, so I’m not sure if it’s fair for me to write the whole book off, but it just wasn’t for me, unfortunately.

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Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, by Tracey Hogg with Melinda Blau

This was recommended by the midwife at our Antenatal classes, as a middle ground between the often starkly contrasting approaches to parenting. I’ve not finished, I’m taking my time to enjoy this one. It’s a really soothing read, really useful with lots (slightly too many) examples of couples Tracey has worked with, but just really helpful to get a feel for the different sort of situations ahead. Big thumbs up so far.

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The First Forty Days, by Heng Ou

This was a late entry, I've just started reading it thanks to a recommendation and it is simply lovely. It seems to be a holistic approach to rebuilding yourself in the most nourishing of ways, along with delectable recipes for ensuring mother and baby have all the nutrients needed in the first few weeks. So good, the mister has been reading up and adding items to the shopping list for us to start prepping for the months ahead.

 

It’s probably stating the blindingly obvious, but just in case… I found signing up to websites and being a voyeur on mum-friendly outlets really helpful too, particularly for not so pretty side-effects, or those things that Google will tell you are disastrous, but fellow mothers tell you is just a regular Tuesday at 23 weeks… Mumsnet, Mummy Social, The Early Hour (articles go live at 5am every morning - to have something to look forward to at that time is nothing short of ingenious) – all completely invaluable.

Podcasts are also pretty wonderful too. I was listening to Scummy Mummies a few years ago, back in the days when I was snorting with laughter on a treadmill listening to Ellie and Helen share the most ridiculous/hilarious/real stories – It normalised the hugely glamourous life ahead, so thank you ladies for preparing me for the glitz, glam and gunk ahead.

Lucky for me, the mister is a huge advocate of mindfulness, so it’s been lovely to find apps, podcasts and exercises to do together - some, not really for him I must say, but pretty key for prepping the lumps and bumps for the road ahead.  Mind the Bump is a free Australian app with quick meditations, notes to self and tasks – some for you both, some just for you. Having relatives over there, the Aussie accent is pretty calming for me, so I find it a brilliant way to reboot and just focus on me and the bean.

For me, the past 8 months have been when I have really appreciated the positives of social media, Instagram in particular. There are some incredible men and women sharing their stories, real stories, real problems, real highs – as a newbie to the bump game, this has been so magical to see. Take a look, there are SO many wonderful people giving you a glimpse into their lives.

 

What did you read? What’s on your list? Any recommendations are hugely appreciated, so please do leave suggestions in the comments section below.