Saturday, October 29, 2011

Does this baby come with a user manual?

I started a new pregnancy / mum to a very young baby group for my local expat women's club, called Bumps and Babies, and for this past month's meeting I had everyone send a title for a book they found particularly useful for pregnancy, labor, baby's 1st year and/or breastfeeding.

I then compiled the list (with a lot of my own titles thrown in there) and printed out copies for everyone at the meeting.

I also did a very insensitive thing and wrote an asterik and a disparaging comment by the name of a baby book I (and many, many others) feel very strongly against. "The Contented Little Baby Book" is written by a child-less woman who advocates having a very strict scheduling of feedings for baby from birth. This flies 100% in the face of all medical professional's advice that I've ever read about breastfeeding, most of whom say that - especially during the "fourth trimester" of the first three months of baby's life - that all feedings should be baby-led (aka - and this sounds so very intuitive to me that I feel silly saying it - feed baby when baby is hungry and not because - omg! it's 3pm and that is his scheduled time to feed!)

Granted I have never taken care of a new-born before (so who am I to judge whether this woman's, Gina Ford, advice is good or not?) BUT my NCT instructor has, and she went on a whole diatribe against this book, and ones like it, that advocate for strict schedules for newborns, saying she sees at her clinic all the time under-fed babies who are failing to thrive because their parents follow strict schedules like Ford advocates. Like my NCT instructor says, newborns just went from being continuously held and fed 100% of the time in the womb, to being in this cold new world where they must suck and digest their own food, and be left alone some of the time! Add to this the fact that newborns are not developmentally ready to be born yet (read "The Happiest Baby on the Block" or any other book that talks about the "fourth trimester") - and you have a poor, helpless infant who can only understand love, warmth and comfort - but certainly not that you cannot feed him right now because you must wait 3 hours between feeds or else! All babies are different and maybe Ford's schedule works for some but I do not think it is a good book for new mothers to read thinking that they must do what Ford says, especially when much of what she says can be detrimental to the establishment of a good milk supply.

So there are all these reasons why I wrote that comment, but I shouldn't have. It hurt the feelings of the woman who recommended it (who DID, btw, follow Ford's advice!) and I just should have kept my big mouth shut. Because I really liked this woman and would have liked to be friends but now I think she thinks I'm just a huge bitch. Ugh. Is one lost friendship worth my moral integrity? I feel so strongly against having pregnant women read this book that I feel highly like it WAS a question of moral integrity to put that warning there. But there were only 5 people at the meeting, and only 1 other first-time mom. So, so much for my moral integrity in saving 1 person from reading it. Why can't I leave well enough alone?

But without further ado, here is the list. I personally highly recommend "The Happiest Baby on the Block" (given with much praise to me by my cousin, a mother of two), "Fatherhood: The Truth" (laugh-out-loud hysterical, and the only book DH has read cover-to-cover all year long, and with no prompting by me!), and lastly "Birth Skills" by Juju Sundin (even if you do want an epidural, her skills are helpful for early labor!) 

Bumps and Babies - Book List

Baby’s first year:

The Baby Book, by William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, MD
The Wonder Weeks, by Hetty Van de Rijt and Frans Plooij
The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp, MD
Brain Rules for Baby, by John Medina
The Contented Little Baby Book, by Gina Ford **
The Yummy Mummy Survival Guide, by Liz Fraser
What to Expect during the First Year, by Murkoff, Eisenberg & Hathaway


What to Expect When You’re Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff, MD
The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy, by Vicki Iovine


Birth Skills, by Juju Sundin with Sarah Murdoch
New Active Birth, by Janet Balaskas


So That's What They're For: Breastfeeding Basics, by Janet Tamaro
The Nursing Mother’s Companion, by Kathleen Huggins
The Breastfeeding Book, by William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, MD

For dads:

Fatherhood: the Truth, by Marcus Berkman

Websites & blogs: - in particular the “Advice Smackdown” column

** A very controversial book: Medical professionals say following Ford’s advice can prevent the establishment of a good milk supply if you are breastfeeding. The National Childbirth Trust strongly advocates baby-led feeding and avoiding a strict schedule in the first three months. (My NCT instructor says she sees new babies in her practice all the time who are under-nourished because the parents are trying to adhere to a strict schedule of feedings instead of listening to their baby’s signals.) That being said many new parents find Ford’s book helpful, as evidenced by its appearance on this list, and Ford has many devoted followers.

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