Monday, 30 December 2013

My Favourite Parenting Books & Resources: Part 1 - Beginnings

I love to read, and if I want to know about something I usually try to get a book about it. If I want to know a lot about something then I get more books about it (shelf space and money allowing!).

When I first got pregnant I didn't have much clue about children apart from the few things my mum and dad had told me. So I asked around and bought books to get guidance from those with a lot of experience and knowledge.

Glean the best

I doubt that any parenting book is completely right in all aspects, so we need to read them prayerfully and wisely, and also realise that every child is different.

What I did with the books I read is to try to learn from the writers’ experience and glean the best nuggets but also not think that I had to stick rigidly to any one plan. God has given us all instincts and common sense so we need to use those as well!

My philosophy on parenting

My parenting philosophy has been to try to parent the way I believe God would want me to. That means that I love them first and foremost. Also I tried to stick to the more natural ways in the belief that God had put them there for a reason.

For the sake of all of us I decided on a measure of order to help the baby and us as parents to sleep well! So I did put my babies on a routine.

I wanted to breastfeed all of my babies, and after reading a lot and listening to mothers around me, came to the conclusion that I could probably keep this up longer and it would have a better effect if I fed on a routine.

I know that not everyone agrees with that, and that’s fine! But my midwives (who all encouraged ‘feeding on demand’ which I didn’t do) said that my babies were great examples of breastfeeding! I breastfed them all exclusively till 6 months, and then together with solids till 1 year old.

I also firmly believe in discipline for children because it is in the Bible very clearly (especially Proverbs) and I had a great example in my parents who both loved and disciplined my brother and I.

Having said all that, I have listed my favourite parenting books and resources below. I will try to write a short summary as I go through them. Please don’t take any of these recommendations as an endorsement of 100% of the content of the books, as that is certainly not the case (other than the Bible J)!

I have posted a link to buy them on Amazon as it will help you to see the price. I may get a small commission if you buy through these links, but please rest assured that I will only link to what I recommend.

Deciding on a Family

Family God’s Way (by Wayne Mack)

We didn't have children for quite a few years when we first married, because I knew they would take me away from ministry which I was involved in full time, helping my husband.

However this book changed all that when I got to the bit about God wanting us to be fruitful and multiply!

         

Getting Pregnant

Intended for Pleasure (by Ed Wheat and Gaye Wheat)

OK this doesn't have too much to do with parenting as such, but is definitely needed to get there! This is the best book I know of on the subject of sexual relations within Christian marriage. It has a lot of Biblical wisdom as well as practical advice.

If you are having any issues in this area or think it is not quite what it could be, you should read this. In fact the counselling course that I have done recommends every couple read this as part of premarital counselling.

       

Taking Charge of Your Fertility (by Toni Weschler)

From natural birth control to maximising your chances of getting pregnant, this is a handbook that many women use - just look at the hundreds of 5 star reviews on Amazon! I loved it as it opened my eyes to a whole world I didn't know about.

         

Pregnancy

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel)

I liked this book because it's very comprehensive. When you are pregnant you go through sooooo many changes and it is quite scary, especially the first time! So it is nice to be able to look up the week or month you're in and see what is happening to your body and your baby.

The diet in the front is basically the same as is recommended in the next book below, which has been heavily researched, so should be a good guide for what to eat while you are pregnant.

       

What Every Pregnant Woman should Know (by Gail Brewer and Tom Brewer)

When I was traipsing around natural parenting and childbirth forums I found a lot of people referring to 'The Brewer Diet' during pregnancy. I looked it up - you can see it on the website here - and then, of course, bought the book on it! It is a little hard to get hold of because I think it is now out of print, but I found it well worth the read.

In there Dr. Brewer goes through all the research he did on how diet affects pregnancy and childbirth, and what you should be eating to maximise your chances of having a healthy baby through eating well.

When I looked up the recommended diet for pregnancy in 'What To Expect...' (above) I found it was basically the same thing. So while the book may be out of print, the advice has obviously been heeded.


BabyCentre

I loved this website when I was pregnant, and browsed it several times a week. My favourite feature is that if you type in you due date they will send you weekly newsletters via e-mail, telling you how you and your baby are changing this week. It's so exciting to know what is going on!

Mumsnet

Essentially this is a forum for mums to discuss anything and everything, so there is obviously much on there that I don't agree with! But having said that, it is a great way of finding help and information on the practical aspects of parenting.

For example one topic I remember searching for was, 'How to travel with a baby on a long distance flight' for which I got lots of helpful information! You can also join an 'Ante-natal club' for some companionship and ongoing discussion with women due the same month as you are.

Childbirth

I read quite a bit on this topic, but I will only recommend my two favourites, and give you a quick summary in case you don't have the money to get them!

Childbirth without Fear (by Grantly Dick Read)

If you can only get one book on childbirth, I would highly recommend this one! It is a little on the old side, but made all the difference to me. My labour before the birth of my second child was horrendously painful even though on the face of it, it was an ideal natural birth - at home in a birthing pool, with gas and air and no complications.

During my next pregnancy I decided I needed to find some more advice. Among the natural birth forums and e-mail lists I found a lot of people talking about 'The Bradley Method' and also this book which is similar. I bought both books but liked this one best as the Bradley method is mainly about your husband coaching you through it, and I didn't feel like it would work that well with us!

The biggest thing I gleaned from this book was about the fear-tension-pain cycle. Basically if you're afraid it leads to tension, which leads to pain. Conversely if you make yourself relax there will be less pain.

For my next birth I took his advice and every time I had a contraction I concentrated hard on relaxing my whole body, but especially my abdomen. Then as the contractions got worse I lay on my side and did the same thing.

It was the quickest, least painful and by far the most enjoyable out of all my three births - it made SUCH a difference. There is a newer copy available but it doesn't have the greatest cover picture so I decided to post this version instead!

        

Active Birth (by Janet Balaskas)

I can't remember much about this book apart from that I learned how important it was to give birth as upright as possible. But it did help me towards decisions like avoiding an epidural since they mean that you have to give birth lying down. It also takes a good look at different pain relief in childbirth.

        

I hope some of these recommendations help you if you're in this stage of life. I am planning to write part 2 very soon, on baby books!

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