I’m Steph, I live in High Wycombe with my husband and our 10- and 11-year-old daughters. I’m an NCT antenatal teacher and breastfeeding counsellor and I teach hypnobirthing and run baby massage classes.
When I found out I was pregnant with our first daughter I felt a mix of complete joy, excitement and absolute panic. My first instinct was not to think too much about the reality of giving birth and then being responsible for a whole other human being.
But I soon realised that wasn’t sensible and so started reading as much as I could about birth and parenting. Since then, as a parent and in my role as an antenatal teacher, I’ve come to rely on some amazing books which I feel are lifelines in a world where the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming.
It’s hard to narrow it down but below are some of my all-time favourites.
This is a beautiful book which I think should be given to everyone preparing to have a baby.
It’s a warm, reassuring hug in literary form; a sharing of wisdom, guidance, experience and reassurance from Natalie, a mum of three and a doula, and from other women who have given birth.
How to have a baby prepares you for the physiology of birth, how our bodies work and what they need in order to labour with ease.
Guiding you through pregnancy up to the first days with your baby, this book, as Natalie herself says, is a recipe, a round-up of the big necessities – tricks and tips drawn from experience.
Hollie is a hypnobirthing teacher and I love her calm and positive approach to birth.
As well as guiding you through the physiological process of labour and birth, the book is full of hypnobirthing techniques such as relaxations, affirmations and visualisations to help you prepare mentally and physically for meeting your baby.
Hollie helps you to identify any negative thoughts you have around birth and reframe them with beliefs that will fill you with calmness and confidence.
Crucially the book also guides you thorough decision-making, advocacy and how to feel fully supported, however you birth your baby.
In all honesty I would recommend all of Sara Wickham’s books but with rates of induction in the UK now at around 35% I feel that this book in particular is a must-read for expectant parents.
I like the fact that Sara starts by clearly explaining the process of induction of labour, examining what’s involved at each stage of the process.
She then shares and scrutinises the reasons why it might be offered and looks at the available evidence and research around those reasons.
This book will help you to understand the effects of induction on labour and birth and give you all the information you need to make an informed decision if you’re offered induction.
It’s hard to choose between Amy Brown’s excellent books but if I could only have read one book about feeding my baby, this would be it.
Amy’s tone is friendly and reassuring and the book is packed with easy-to-understand information.
The first part covers breastfeeding and giving your baby human milk, looking at how to get off to a positive start but also recognising that there’s more than one way to give babies breastmilk.
Amy also looks at infant formula, providing evidence-based information on bottle-feeding, types of formula and preparing bottles.
Introducing solid foods is also covered, helping you to feel confident and informed about this (messy!) stage of feeding your baby.
Sleep is probably the subject most talked about (and Googled!) by parents in my classes.
Sleep plays a huge role in our general health and wellbeing, so adjusting to a lack of it when you have a new baby is tough.
I love this book because Lyndsey’s compassion and reassurance is evident in every page. She explores what biologically normal sleep looks like for babies and how this actually positive in terms of infant safety.
However she acknowledges that sleep deprivation is tough and provides evidence-based ways to optimise sleep for the whole family. My favourite part about this book is that each chapter ends with a “tired parent’s summary”!
If you’ve read all of these and are hungry for more, here are some of Steph’s other picks…Don’t forget it’s always worth seeing if they’re available at your local library!
Your No-guilt Pregnancy Plan by Rebecca Schiller
The AIMS Guide to Your Rights in Pregnancy & Birth
The Positive Breastfeeding Book by Amy Brown
Why Did No One Tell Me?: How to Protect, Heal & Nurture Your Body Through Motherhood by Emma Brockwell
Why Postnatal Recovery Matters by Sophie Messager