reviews here added and updated 11/11--near the end of my second pregnancy
New (or new to me) Books since my First Pregnancy: A somewhat random assortment of books, some high on my list to recommend to others and some low (quite low).
I feel an impostor. I am not myself. Is this how it will be: me, pulled apart, existing on at least two opposing levels at the same time? With no one comprehending all the levels? The level of my longing to be alone with you. The level of my longing to be just as I was before you. My being leveled into fatigue.
I'll 'pass' for normal as usual. At what cost?
Can I actually pull it off?
Doesn't everyone see how different I am? Are they just being polite?
Am I permanently split apart? Me in one room? You in another? No longer One?
"I often speak to women who opt not to have a homebirth because someone doesn't support that decision--their husbands, mothers, in-laws, you name it. If you are going to wait for everyone's support, you'll wait forever. If having a homebirth is important to you, you have to be the one to make the choice. Don't ask your partner, 'Do you think I should interview a midwife?' Instead, say, 'My appointment with the midwife is on Monday.' Then go on Monday."
Things seemed dire to me during the labor; I look back now with humor and compassion. I was in quite a state. . . . I remember hiding in the bathtub. . . . I wanted out. I had put some Stadol, an opiate painkiller, in the fridge for just this occasion. . . . At that moment, the idea of a C-section seemed pretty good, or at least an epidural. I promised not to be one of those women whining at an International Cesarean Awareness Network meeting about my unnecessary C-section. No, mine would be justified. There was just too much pain! (104-105)
Ignore, for the moment, Mulhahn's use here of the word "whining" in her characterization of ICAN meetings. She goes on to explain that she suddenly realizes that she actually is going to have her baby and has to keep going, abandoning "any notions of being dainty" and finally saying "Goodbye, vanity!" (106). This is a tough description for me to read: I know that midwives don't always have easy births, but Mulhahn appears more than a little hypocritical here, and honestly, this is not how I would like my midwife to view birth. "Miserable pushing?" A loss of "daintiness"? Birth isn't about misery or vanity--perhaps Mulhahn should reconsider those "high-heeled boots" next time.In short, read the book--skim over the melodramatic teenage sections, ignore the aggravating tone and the Cool Factor, and focus on the nice descriptions of what it's like to be a midwife (CNM) in New York today, backed up by doctors, moving between the hospital and the home, and caught in the middle of a culture that is undeniably anti-midwifery.
"I dream of your sudden death. The stopped breath. The violent choking. The mysterious convulsion. My fear paralyzes me. . .
"Only you can comfort me. By remaining alive. I dread your cries. I crave them."
Creating life is goddess work. You are stronger, more powerful, and more focused than you’ve ever been. Life force is coursing through your body and you are living life in a heightened state of awareness. You are extremely sensitive to smell and taste and to the people, situations, and changes in the atmosphere that might do you or your baby harm. What might make you feel vulnerable also makes you fierce. People better watch out because you will do almost anything to protect your baby.
In this state, you are amazing. You are going to access parts of yourself that you didn’t know existed. You are going to face your fears. You have decided to face pain and handle it in a way that makes you most comfortable. Dealing with fear and facing pain are the kinds of things that most people run from as fast as they can, but not you. You are the birth goddess and you will do what needs to be done.
When you come out the other side of this experience, you will be a different woman than when you went in. You will know yourself better and have a much broader sense of what you are capable of doing. You will be smarter and stronger than you’ve ever been before. (31)
I came to the decision to have a home birth from feminism. . . which made us all critical of the ways that major institutions of our society treated women, and in particular of the way that medicine as a profession treated the bodies of women. . . . Mine was, I guess I’d say now, . . . a highly politicized birth because, as much as anything else that was happening that day, I was making a point, proving something. I, who had never so much as seen a baby born, was showing the doctor and the world that birth did not have to be a medical event. . . .I just knew that the way birth was managed in standard hospitals was not “feminist” enough for me; it did not put the woman enough in charge, and looked awful besides. (xii)
Even from her first birth, before she had begun her study of midwives, nurses, and other caregivers, Rothman’s focus was clear. Her research over the past thirty-plus years has confirmed her in this regard:
Birth is, I learned and I can say with clarity now, about women. That’s what the midwives taught me, and that’s what my own experiences have shown me. Birth is not about babies. Babies get born. But women give birth. Giving birth is awesome. Babies are miracles, and cute besides, but birth is an Event. It is Something. It is a life-shaking, developmental moment that makes you who you are, that teaches you who you are. (xvii)
According to Rothman, women themselves play a passive role in pregnancy and birth when seen through the medical model, but the midwifery model returns power and agency to woman: “In the midwifery model, the [pregnant] woman herself holds the responsibility for her pregnancy and makes her own decisions. The midwife sees herself as a teacher and a guide for the pregnant woman and her family” (54). Rothman makes this point even clearer here, citing Ina May:
Midwifery, as many midwives conceive of it, can be revolutionary feminist practice. As Ina May Gaskin put it: “You know I’ve always been convinced that as a society we’re doing it all wrong and that we need to utterly change it” (cited in Schlinger 1992: 19). In spreading the word about their worldview, that’s what midwives hope for. (138)
So, why should we care about midwives? Rothman would argue that we need no further reason beyond simply caring about women.
reviews below updated 10/08--post (my first) pregnancy and birth
Stage One Reading: Motherhood, Feminism, Gender Roles, Work, and Family (5/07-9/08)
Most Useful Books--These are books that I pored over from the library; most are solid academic and intellectual works, yet highly readable (though there is a novel in the mix). I loved all of them and loved thinking through the issues they raised.
- I think of this book on two levels--on one level, it's a fabulous book, nothing less than I would expect from Wolf, readable and well-researched and provacative. On the other hand, really? How could she have been so naive? I figured all this out on my own--much of it before we got pregnant, and the rest of it in my first trimester!
***Rothman--Recreating Motherhood: Ideology and Technology in a Patriarchal Society
- Amazing, moving, and inspired work. She manages to be personal and political all at once--this is the Betty Friedan of this era and this subject, I think. Essential.
Rich--Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution
- Another classic text by a feminist who critically examines motherhood in today's society against the institution of patriarchy. Truly radical and fabulous.
Deutsch--Halving it All: How Equally Shared Parenting Works
- Good book, with a strong academic basis, from a sociologist from Mt. Holyoke. Sadly this is not the norm. Sadly we will never do it ourselves.
Crittendon--The Price of Motherhood
- Solidly argued, compelling analysis of the problems with "choice" feminism and the economic valuation of woman's work. Great.
Stone--Opting Out?: Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home
- Very smart book. A sociological study, written up nicely, not pretending to be something it isn't. Kind of Naomi Wolf-like.
Williams--Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It
- Great book--good legal mind, good positions on gender--clearly feminist, clearly anti "choice feminisim" even before Hirshman, and a very logical, well-reasoned view.
Bennetts--Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?
- Good book. Cori hated it--she thinks it's at least one parent's job to stay home, which one doesn't matter; I think (and Bennetts does) that we should all contribute to society by working.
Hochschild--The Second Shift
- Simply a classic--everyone must read this.
Hirshman--Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World
- I love this. Smart, excellent book!
Coontz--The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms with America's Changing Families
- Good book. She is so sensible--she essentially says, "here is sociology and here is history, and here is how they can help us with the present and the future."
Interesting Contributions--These are books that are interesting, informative, thought-provoking, but not must-reads on the subject.
- Kaylin--Perfect Stranger: The Truth About Mothers and Their Nannies
- Not so much a real critical feminist study, but more anecdotal. Still not a horrendous book--the author has some perspective on the issue, so isn't too completely biased.
Wolitzer--The Ten Year Nap
- Good book, a novelistic treatment of why women take time out of work for kids and why it's hard to go back given husbands and society.
Hays--The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood
- Very good, if a bit dated. A nice sociological approach.
Roiphe--Fruitful: A Real Mother in the Modern World
- A combination memoir of her own experience as a feminist and a mother, and a treatise on how feminism needs to embrace motherhood, and parenthood (shared with men) in general. Interesting.
Firestone--The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution
- Whoa, way out there! I never read this--not on my own when I was reading Margaret Sanger and Betty Friedan, nor at Wellesley in various Women's Studies classes. Definitely a unique perspective on child-bearing, child-rearing, and their relation to the feminist cause.
Ruddick--Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace
- This is the classic "women's ways of knowing" text, up there with Carol Gilligan. Some interesting views of how mothering fits into the overall feminist outlook on life.
Douglas and Michaels--The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women
- Good book, if a bit basic. Anyone who has a background in feminist philosophy or women's studies (or even recent American history) does not need the historical ground this book covers, but it does cover it well.
Stage Two Reading: Birth Choices (Home vs. Hospital), Pregnancy, and Labor (1/08-5/08)
Most Useful Books--These are books I went out and bought after first borrowing them from the library. All are really useful, solid books, with lists, diagrams, exercises, and relaxation techniques that I want to refer back to throughout the next months; they are all indispensable resources for me.
- ***Mongan--Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method--A Natural Approach to a Safe, Easier, More Comfortable Birthing
- Excellent. Run out to buy it. I've already been trying the breathing and the visualization. It's not flaky at all--really great, instead--and she explains the concept of self-hypnosis just as a deep concentrated state. I used her visualization exercises and the mp3s throughout pregnancy--they helped with all the prenatal anxiety, with the constant night-wakings. I didn't actually use this in labor: In active labor I was beyond conscious visualization or words, weirdly, though I was definitely relaxed--more a function of the setting and people I was with, I think.)
***Goer--The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth
- At first read: very, very informative--a little emphatic on the risks, but good reviews of the research. After going through pregnancy: Essential! Everytime anyone says, "Really? You're not getting tested for gestational diabetes?" or any other standard medical question, whip out this book and refer that person to Goer's excellent review of the literature.
***England and Horowitz--Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation
- The half of the book that's about art kind of left me cold, but the end of the book, with specifics on breathing techniques and positions, etc., seems very, very helpful. Lots of things to practice here. In retrospect, what seemed to me mildly overly touchy-feely--including the text's constant use of the term "Labor Land" to refer to a woman's mental and emotional state during labor--ultimately was dead on. I was in Labor Land during my labor, and this book's mantra ("Labor is hard work, it hurts, and you can do it.") really was not far off either.
***Davis--Heart and Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy and Birth
- Very good, informative book--hugely useful. I constantly referred back to it during my pregnancy. I love the hippee-era black and white photos, and I also love the diagrams of fetal positions, etc.
Most Informative Books (and one movie)--These are solidly written, well-researched, convincing and informative, but not things that I need to own and refer back to. If people are in doubt about the benefits of an intervention-free, midwife-attended homebirth, however, these are the books to read to convince them that these options are really the way to go.
- ***Gaskin--Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
- By possibly the most famous midwife in the country, a wonderful, inspirational book. Just full of lovely, moving stories. (Note: there are also clips of Ina May speaking available to watch on YouTube--she is fabulous, so articulate, so strong, so much on women's side!)
- ***Kitzinger--Ourselves as Mothers: The Universal Experience of Motherhood
- Wow, great book--looks at birth and motherhood anthropologically across the world, including the "rituals" of childbirth in the West (i.e., medical-based childbirth).
***Lake and Epstein--The Business of Being Born (movie/DVD)
- This is an excellent source for husbands, parents, etc.--anyone who is not going to sit down and plow through all the other (written) titles on this list. Good movie, though it's a bit heavy on the Ricki Lake, for those that find her off-putting. Robert completely absorbed the pitocin-epidural evil spiral, though, as depicted in its cartoon segment, and retold it to a guy from his office. So, definitely informative!
***Wagner--Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must be Fixed to Put Women and Children First
- Excellent. Written by a doctor--fantastic, logical, building a solid, solid case.
***Leboyer--Birth Without Violence: The Book that Revolutionized the Way We Bring Our Children into the World
- Beautiful. Clearly poetic and inspiring, and I believe the list that rated this as one of the most influential books of this century. I don't need to keep referring to it, but it was something to read.
Korte and Scaer--A Good Birth, A Safe Birth: Choosing and Having the Childbirth Experience You Want
- Excellent book along the lines of Goer--presents some astonishing statistics, and an excellent discussion of why perinatal mortality rates (for example) have decreased, really.
Odent--The Nature of Birth and Breastfeeding
- Interesting book by a European who sees the importance of midwives, privacy, homebirth, lack of frequent vaginal exams during labor, etc. Nicely written, and fascinating in places in his conclusions and comparisons.
Simkin--The Birth Partner: Everything You Need to Know to Help a Woman Through Childbirth
- Extremely useful in its lists, stages, positions, etc.
Stewart--The Five Standards of Safe Childbearing
- Solid scientific text--great review of literature, great logic, good argument. Preaching to the converted here, though.
Dick-Read--Childbirth Without Fear
- Fascinating, lovely book--certainly dated in places, certainly written by a man, but what a great history, with lovely writing and interviews!
Harper--Gentle Birth Choices: A Guide to Making Informed Decisions About Birthing Centers, Birth Attendants, Water Birth, Home Birth, Hospital Birth
- Very nice. Nothing essentially new here, but this is the most open-minded of the books like this ("birth choice" books, I think of them).
Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus--The Doula Book: How a Trained Labor Companion Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth
- Very solid review of the research on doulas. Definitely factual, useful, and convincing: if a woman is planning a hospital birth, she absolutely should read this book and absolutely should have a doula.
Rothman--The Tentative Pregnancy: Prenatal Diagnosis and the Future of Motherhood
- Good book. A little bit old now, but fabulous sociological interviews about the effects of amnios on pregnant women.
Interesting Contributions--These are good reads, with generally useful information and a more-or-less acceptable tone (some are a little more state-the-obvious or a little more narrowly focused or a little more kooky or closed-minded or male-focused or just outdated than would be ideal), but not things I need to read more than once. I'm glad I read them, but a quick read of the library copy was sufficient for me.
- Karmel--Thank You, Dr. Lamaze
- A really funny read--for most of the book it reads like a typical mid-century novel, and I was reading bits aloud to Robert, which he seemed to enjoy. But boy, it just tells me that I do not want the Lamaze method. I'm apparently a Bradley woman all the way, if forced to choose between them.
Arms--Immaculate Deception: A New Look at Women and Childbirth in America
- Very good book, though somewhat outdated. Sort of an older version of the Henci Goer book, actually. Solid.
Kitzinger--Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth
- Very good book. Some great diagrams. I love how it's a week-by-week thing, yet smart about it. Some really nice photos of exercises.
McCutcheon--Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way
- Good book. I kind of hate the Bradley method because a) it's developed by/named after a man, and b) it places so much emphasis on the husband as coach, but a lot of the exercises, relaxation techniques, pictures, etc. are very useful, and of course I like the philosophical approach (birth doesn't have to hurt--just relax and don't fear it) a lot more than the Lamaze philosophy (birth hurts, but if you relax and distract yourself then you don't have to feel the pain). And really, during labor did I want Robert "coaching" me? No way! I mostly did my own thing, with Kelley (my midwife) and my mother reassuring me, and Kelley coaching during the pushing.
Armstrong and Feldman--A Midwife's Story
- Good. Memoirs of a midwife who trained in a hospital, practiced in a hospital, then practiced homebirths in the Amish country in the 1970s and 1980s.
Wertz and Wertz--Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America
- Great book. I learned so much. The authors are careful not to be biased either that medicine is great or bad, but really an argument against interventions surfaces here anyway.
McKay--The Birth House
- Good novel. Canadian, small town, drama, predictable but good stuff with some interesting depictions of midwifery.
Balaskas--Active Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally
- Good book, but the prenatal exercises I'm just going to buy a separate DVD for--I don't need to own this book
Northrup--Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom
- Wow, kind of out there. I don't necessarily buy everything in this book, but it was certainly an interesting read. Pretty kooky in places, though.
Utterly Skippable Books--These are just pointless given the amount of good stuff out there on the same subject. They're often badly written or blatantly offensive or both, and they tend to dumb things down too much and just pander to the party line (the standard, overly medicalized view of childbirth). I read them (in part to see how the other 95% of the pregnant population thinks) through, but they weren't worth the time.
- Cassidy--Birth: The Surprising History of How We are Born
- Not such a good book. She pretends to be open-minded, but really she just parrots the party line. She doesn't really question some of these crazy doctors!
Mayo Clinic--Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
- Okay. Possibly helpful if this were the very first thing I read, or possibly useful on a continuing basis if there were no Internet, but really unnecessary otherwise.
Murkoff, et al.--What to Expect When You're Expecting
- Not by any means the best pregnancy book--it kind of dumbs things down, overly simplifies, and doesn't give the reasons behind things--but nowheres near as bad and fear-mongering as people say. Still not good.
Sears and Sears--The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth
- Not my favorite pregnancy/labor book so far. Clearly written not just by a woman, and the style just left me cold.
Milburn and Smith--The Natural Childbirth Book
- Weird--definitely outdated, and written from an extremely overtly Christian perspective, yet still not as left-wing/natural as one might expect. I can't imagine who would find this useful.
Iovine--The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy: Or Everything Your Doctor Won't Tell You
- Really just as pointless and offensive and you might imagine from its title. Completely useless
Kitzinger--Homebirth: The Essential Guide for Giving Birth Outside of the Hospital
- Meh. A rather pointless basic book--absolutely nothing here that wasn't on the web, or in very basic introductory chapters of other books. Her other book was way more useful.
Stage Three Reading: Breastfeeding, Vaccines, Sleeping, and Infant Care/Development (2/08- 9/08)
Most Useful Books: Books to buy and refer back to again and again; indispensable resources.
- ***Huggins--Nursing Mother's Companion: 20th Anniversary Edition, Completely Revised and Updated
- Excellent. Shorter than Newman's--easier to digest, if less here, but still a very good resource. Good inoffensive tone.
***Pantley--The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
- Very sensible, calm, truly gentle book on sleeping. It's sort of an everything-your-mother-told-you kind of book, but I like the author's style, and now reading it that we actually have a newborn, I really appreciate her advice.
***Sears--The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child
- Whether you think that playing around with vaccination schedules is kooky or de rigueur, this book has an immense wealth of information. Wouldn't every parent at least want to know what's in the shots the doctor gives his/her child?
***Newman--The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers: The Most Comprehensive Problem-Solution Guide to Breastfeeding from the Foremost Expert in North America
- Fabulous breast-feeding book, probably the best I've read. I loved the information on cup-feeding, on drug interactions, on increasing supply, and on moving to solids. Lucid and invaluable.
Masi and Leiderman, eds.--Baby Play: 100 Fun-filled activities to maximize your baby's potential
- Very good, nicely illustrated book with activities for babies from birth to a year old; it's organized by age, and then cross-referenced by skill the activities help develop. Smart, uncondescending, and fun.
Most Informative Books--Solidly written, well-researched, convincing and informative; I read them thoroughly and enjoyed them but don't plan to go back to them again and again.
- Behrmann--The Breastfeeding Cafe: Mothers Share the Joys, Challenges, and Secrets of Nursing
- Really good book. I liked it so much more than the (overly preachy) La Leche League book--this one was just ALL oral histories of women about nursing.
Klaus and Klaus--The Amazing Newborn: Making the Most of the First Weeks of Life
- Lovely. Fabulous photos. A must-read for anyone.
Karmel--First Meals: Fast, Healthy, and Fun Foods to Tempt Infants and Toddlers
- Nice book. Great see-at-a-glance charts of when to start foods, etc.; nice "recipes" (some simple for purees, some more complex for fun-looking food for toddlers); and excellent photos of the different purees.
Brazelton--Touchpoints Birth to 3
- Very useful, informative book. I think he's a little bit overly didactic about the "proper steps" of toliet training, for example, but a very engaging and interesting read overall.
Sears--The Fussy Baby: How to Bring Out the Best in Your High-Need Child
- Really smart. So much better than the Weissbluth, Ezzo, etc. people on scheduling your baby. Very affirming, very logical.
Sears and Sears--The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby
- Wow, he and his wife are great on parenting, though not as great in their birth book. This is a really, really nice, reasonable, positive book about what it means to truly get to know your baby.
Lindsay and Brunelli--Nurturing Your Newborn: Young Parents' Guide to Baby's First Month
- Even though this is aimed at teenage mothers, it's very good--nice realistic view of parenting, good discussion of choices, of baby blues, or help, etc. Not condescending, and with its constant quotes from mothers, better than some adult baby books.
Eliot--What's Going on in There?: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life
- Very smart, good book. Lots of information,lots of reviews of the literature, and great sensible advice on pregnancy and early parenting.
Gopnik, Meltzoff, and Kuhl--The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind
- Good book. Not that much here that was new to me given various linguistics classes and theory of mind stuff, but very interesting, and of course, engagingly written and presented. Definitely worth reading.
Interesting Contributions--Generally useful information and a more-or-less acceptable tone. A quick read through is sufficient.
- La Leche League--The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
- Good, practical stuff on breastfeeding--the rest of the book gets a little overly dictatorial (women must stay home, etc.), however.
Pryor and Huggins--Nursing Mother, Working Mother: The Essential Guide to Breastfeeding Your Baby Before and After You Return to Work
- Okay book. On one hand, there's not that much that's new or different here, but on the other hand, just the few pages of charts and tables with specifics about when to pump are very nice to have.
O'Mara--Natural Family Living: The Mothering Magazine Guide to Parenting
- Good all-around book. Tries to do so much that it covers everything only in tiny snippets, and definitely biased (though not in a bad way--opinionated books are more fun), but decent all around.
Tamaro--So that's What They're For!: The Definitive Breastfeeding Guide
- Good all-around book. Tries to do so much that it covers everything only in tiny snippets, and definitely biased (though not in a bad way--opinionated books are more fun), but decent all around.
Pantley--Gentle Baby Care
- Helpful A-Z baby book. Better than some brief webpages on the subject, but overall just something to read once and move on from.
Greene--Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care
- Good. Not too much here that isn't common sense, but some good specific lists of products to avoid/seek out on an environmental basis.
Cave--What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children's Vaccinations
- Great, informative book, even if it's a little bit out-dated at the moment. Great advice about checking the titers rather than routinely administering booster shots.
Yaron--Super Baby Food
- Good reference, but you have to know that the author is crazy. Don't stand too close to the blender? Meat is too dangerous to keep in the house? Uh huh. It's also very, very poorly written and edited. . . but still an interesting read and some good recipes/techniques.
Gavigan--Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home
- Not bad. In a lot of ways I like this more than Raising Baby Green as an environmental baby book--it's definitely got a broader scope to it.
Palmer--Baby Matters: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Caring for Your Baby
- Kind of crazy. At its best, it's Henci Goer for attachment parenting, but I don't need to be convinced, so the scientific background here is just blah and preachy. At its worst, it swings over into kookiness, but I still think it's a good read (once).
Acredolo and Goodwyn--Baby Hearts: A Guide to Giving Your Child an Emotional Head Start
- Okay. A lot of this book is just common sense, but it's not terrible. There were a couple good ideas in it, like taking a deck of cards and pasting on pictures of people from newspapers, etc. who look sad (spades), angry (clubs), happy, etc. to play a "go fish!" sort of game with a child, to get him/her used to recognizing different emotions.
Sears and Sears--The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two
- Good book. Kind of repetitive of their others, and some common-sensical, but not at all useless, crazy, offensive, etc. Really, that elevates it above so many other parenting books
Staton and Perron--Baby Om: Yoga for Mothers and Babies
- Nicely written, and nice photos and exercises.
Marano--A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting
- Not a bad read. The annoying mini-sections bugged me--what, does she really think we have this short of an attention span?--but it's engaging, if anecdotal, and the final chapter contains more condensed parenting advice, that's more useful, than some entire parenting books I've read.
Acredolo and Goodwyn--Baby Minds: Brain-Building Games Your Baby Will Love
- More logical, reasonable stuff--nothing earth-shaking, but a nice read, decently written.
Johnson's--Your Baby's First Year: Essential Babycare Advice for All New Parents
- Okay book. On one hand, not too much actual information here, but where there is is engagingly presented. It's not incredbly condescending to parents, even if it's rather a lightweight volume than an essential one.
Garcia--Sign with Your Baby: How to Communicate with Infants Before They Can Speak
- Pretty good, basic little book--nice vocabulary list of signs and good information on introducing them, but I find the whole concept--that most babies can't speak well enough at one to express themselves--very off-putting.
Jana and Shu--Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality
- Nice newborn-basics book; good sidebars, readable, decent tone (neither too preachy nor too folksy) but there's just not that much here that isn't either common sense or else available everywhere else.
Karp--The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer
- He's not as horrible as some people writing on the subject. I don't follow him religiously, but at least it's catchy and logical, even if a little didactic.
Utterly Skippable Books (and one magazine)--Pointless, bad, or offensive (especially in their attempts at humor), or just philosophically not at all a useful match for Robert and me.
- Watson--Eats, Poops, and Leaves: The Essential Apologies, Rationalizations, and Downright Denials Every New Parent Needs to Know
- Blech. Not worth the time. There is nothing useful in this book, just a collection of tired and unfunny bad jokes.
McCarthy--Baby Laughs: The Naked Truth About the First Year of Mommyhood
- Good God, this book is worse than I thought. Run very far away.
Ezzo and Bucknam--On Becoming Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep
- Horrible book. Not really well-written, not obviously based on anything more than anecdote, and really kind of offensive in the way it a) thinks parents are stupid and b) blames them for the kids' sleep problems.
Weissbluth--Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night's Sleep
- Ugh. I don't like this book. The philosophy seems sort of common-sense to begin with, but, really, we're going to blame parents for causing kids' ADHD because parents didn't "teach their kids to sleep" in the right way? I hated the author's tone.
Murkoff, et al.--What to Expect the First Year
- Pretty useless, but not egregiously offensive. Just not better than random Internet searches (including Yahoo Answers, that fabulous source).
American Academy of Pediatrics--The Complete and Authoritative Guide: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5
- Extremely conservative book, yet bizarre in its content, overall with very little useful information. Really? There's a whole paragraph on "teaching your child to urinate outdoors"? What planet are we on? And this from a book which constantly says, "Don't abuse your child." Uh huh.
Garabedian--Itsy Bitsy Yoga: Poses to Help Your Baby Sleep Longer, Digest Better, and Grow Stronger
- I really liked Baby Om a lot more on the yoga front. This is part of that intensive mothering culture--skip this book.
Brown and Fields--Baby 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Baby's First Year
- Useless book. It has nothing in it that isn't on the most basic webpages, and it is neither intelligent nor open-minded in its presentation.
Hogg--The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems (By Teaching You How to Ask the Right Questions)
- Horrendous book. She is so rigid, and so un-attachment parenting. Schedules? Ridiculous acronyms galore? Yep, they're all here.
- Why does this magazine exist? It's full of obvious, trite, ridiculous "tips" and "solutions"; it talks down to "parents" (read: mothers, since according to this magazine's worldview fathers exist only to be celebrated in a tiny sidebar if they occasionally "help out"), and it contains plain old bad advice.
Stage Four Reading: The Post-Partum Period and Adjustment to Motherhood (8/08- 10/08)
Most Useful Books--Books to refer back to again and again.
Interesting Contributions--I'm glad I read these, but they're not must-reads. A quick read of the library copy was sufficient for me
- Garrigues--Writing Motherhood: Tapping into Your Creativity as a Mother and a Writer
- Good book, but really more of a "you can do it" cheerleader, and a general writing book, than anything specific to motherhood. Not bad, though.
- Blakely--American Mom: Motherhood, Politics, and Humble Pie
- A memoir, with some good bits, but this goes very far afield (up to her kids leaving for college). Reasonable and interesting, though, and totally worth it just for this gem of a line: "[M]otherhood is perhaps the only unpaid position where failure to show up can result in arrest."
- Ashworth and Nobile--I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood
- Not as bad as I was expecting, given the snarky tongue-in-cheek title, but not really a useful book on the subject. Too apologetic, and too many excuses to be bad parents just because everyone else is too.
- Loh--Mother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$@ Story About Parenting
- All right. Very funny in places, and I love her sketch of breastfeeding, and I agree with her views on public schools (ultimately), but too much--too loud, too long, etc.
Utterly Skippable Books--Though there are some interesting points in the following works, I find their overall slant on the subject offensive, and either overly dumbed-down or overly negative or both. Don't bother with these.
- Maushart--The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It
- I did not like this book. She is incredibly negative--just because she had a traumatic birth experience does not mean she has to generalize from her own experience to all women. Although the first quarter of the book, especially, makes a few cogent observations, my advice is to stay away from this overly negative perspective on birth and motherhood.
- Warner--Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety
- I hate this book! I hate her flippant ''funny'' self-deprecating and anti-feminist writing style. I hate her constant point that now, after the success of the women's movement, we need more work on the family. Um, she doesn't notice that the women's movement didn't succeed, didn't go far enough, & we are still dealing with exactly the same problem as Betty Freidan discussed?
- Hanson, Hanson, and Pollycove--Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships
- Ick. This book ranges from pointless (really? If you're depressed, talk to someone? I never would have thought of that!) to incredibly touchy-feely. There is nothing useful here
- Blades and Rowe-Finkbeiner--The Motherhood Manifesto: What America's Moms Want--And What to Do About It
- Blah. This reads like a Time Magazine article that somehow got inflated. There's no reason to bother with this book--it adds nothing new to the subject.
Stage Five Reading: Parenting Beyond Babyhood, Feminist Parenting, Parenting Boys (10/08)
Useful, Good Reads: Philosophically well-matched and/or informative.
Skippable: Overly obvious or just too alien in perspective
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Created: 2/25/08. Last Modified: 11/15/11.