I am always shocked to hear the lack of reading and research most new parents did before becoming a parent. Between the internet, free material from the doctor, best selling books, not-so-best selling books, magazines, and even movies, why are people not reading up on something so terrifying, difficult, and exciting? You read Yelp reviews because you want to go the the BEST place to eat, don't you want to be the BEST parent you can be? There is so much information out there, go out and empower yourself. I remember I read like five books about having a baby before I even got pregnant. Once I found out I was pregnant, multiply that by 100. I was very informed, and when it came down to it, I still fumbled around motherhood. Also, let's not forget that there is a wealth of information out there for Dads as well. Gone are the times of the father who waits out in the waiting room, pacing and smoking a cigar. The father is and should be an equal partner in this situation. He is 50 percent responsible for the situation, after all! He needs to read up as well (which my hubby did!). I am one lucky chick-a-dee! Needless to say, I am giving you some must-read recommendations before you become a parent. Now, you are actually reading this, which means, you are NOT that parent that feels they will just figure it out when the time comes, but maybe this will help someone who wants to read up and educate themselves before becoming a parent. Remember many, many, many people have done this before we have, so let's learn from their mistakes and experience.
What to Expect When You're Expecting By: Heidi Murkoff - Yeah, yeah, I know it seems like this is sooooooooo mainstream, but there is a reason it is a best seller. I love the fake question and answer format. Many of the questions are questions I have asked myself, but dare not ask my pregnant friends, so get it and read it while you are on the toilet constipated from pregnancy. I won't tell anyone you are so traditional.
Also read What to Expect the First Year, and What to Expect the Toddler Years, and get the What to Expect Pregnancy Journal and Organizer. I have that journal from each of my pregnancies and it is a great memory, and it helps you know about what you need to ask for at the doctor's office. You can read the other two while you're breastfeeding your kidlet, (since you know that breastfeeding is the ONLY way to go because you educated yourself on all its benefits).
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn By: A bunch of smart people - This one is a must read if you like things described more scientific and textbooky. I enjoyed reading it because it prepared me for the actual medical type situation I came across in pregnancy, childbirth, and taking care of a newborn.
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers By: Jack Newman and Teresa Pit - I must really like these question and answer books. My mother in-law is a lactation specialist, so I didn't need a lot of extra support in this area, but when my first child ended up being a rare "barracuda sucker," I did turn to this book when I felt like giving up. I am so glad I bit a towel when she latched, instead of giving up, because as I now know, breastfeeding is the ONLY way to go. I wasn't aware of formula companies behaving like tobacco companies until I came home from the hospital with a new car seat, bottles, and formula samples, all funded by Big Formula.
Love and Logic Parenting - Read everything, listen to everything, download everything from this organization. You won't regret it. As a teacher and a parent I highly recommend this style of parenting. The world would be a better place if all children were raised with this parental philosophy.
Little Steps for New Parents - This is a week by week journal that gives you a mini lesson about what to do with your baby that week and you write about what you did that week. Some of them were silly, but some of them were not. For example, I didn't know you shouldn't cover your babies hands with those mitts all the time. It inhibits the baby's development. They need to learn that it hurts to scratch their face off. Plus, it makes them smarter. Thanks Little Steps!
Babycenter.com - I loved following along with my pregnancy week by week. Each week I would excitingly get on my computer and read up on how big my baby was and what parts were forming. It was all very exciting, it made me super happy, and it made me want to take care of myself and my baby even more. They still update me on my babies. It sends you a little reminder e-mail. There are tons of these types of sites. Sign up for a couple of them, so you can cross reference information. Remember everyone has a different pregnancy.
The Business of Being Born and More Business of Being Born - These are must-see documentaries. I would have worked harder to give birth in a birthing center, if I watched this at the beginning of my pregnancy with Audrey. Everything that happens in these movies does really happen at hospitals. A lot of these things happened to me.
Mothering.com - This used to be a magazine I subscribed to, but now is a comprehensive natural-parenting website. I am not really a total natural-parenting individual. I am a breastfeeding advocate, co-sleeping advocate, and kind of a hippy parent in regards to parenting my children, but I am by no means full on natural parenter. I think we can learn from all types of philosophies and outlooks on life, so that we can make the best possible decision for our family and our children. I always get compliments on my children's behavior and their intelligence level. I think that is because my husband and I (remember you're in this together) really try to take the best parts of each philosophy to make our children awesome.
Go to a Birthing Class - Why do people not do this anymore? Didn't this used to be a pregnancy staple? The hospital tour does not count as birthing class. Don't wait until you are about to give birth! Go at about 20 weeks, so you have time to write a birth plan and prepare. The link is to the one I went to that was FREE and awesome, but there may be ones in your area that have similar programs.
Now, it is not hard to get my hubby to read. He loves to read. I know it will be harder for some of you, but it is worth being a nag and making him read these two books. My hubbo already did the research for you. He has read every daddy book out there. Most of them were way lame, but these two are must reads. You husband will laugh, cry, and read you excerpts because they are that good.
Hit the Ground Crawling By: Greg Bishop - Don't let the cheesy picture on the cover fool you. This book is amazing. My husband would be reading it in a place he was supposed to be quiet and he would start laughing uncontrollably, than in the next sentence he would tear up. It was the perfect mixture of humor, helpful information, and sentimental stuff too. A must read for sure.
What to Expect When Your Wife is Expanding By: Thomas Hill - This one is more straight up hilarious, but still had some important tips. Who says it has to be boring to learn new stuff? That's our family motto.
This is not a comprehensive list by any means. There is tons more out there. This is just based on what I read and did. If you have other must-reads, make sure you make a comment and put it out there. My only plea is to spread the word and tell new parents to read, read, read. It is so easy to educate yourself in this day and age. Happy reading, writing, and watching everyone!