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Empowered pregnancy is the best kind of pregnancy in my opinion. Empowerment begins with education and knowledge. A great way to gain knowledge? Books! As a self-proclaimed book-dragon, books are one of my favorite things. When I found out I was pregnant, I was excited for quite a few reasons. One of which was the opportunity to read more books!

I’ve compiled my 5 favorite books that I read while I was pregnant. Bonus: these books build your feelings of confidence and empowerment as you progress through this new and exciting season of your life! Let’s get reading!

5 Books for Empowered Pregnancy

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Pregnancy Childbirth & The Newborn

This is by far my favorite pregnancy book. Pregnancy Childbirth & The Newborn combines the most important aspects of  pregnancy, labor and delivery, and life with a newborn into one easy to digest book. I didn’t discover PCN until I was about 5 months pregnant, but when I did, it became my pregnancy bible.

What makes it so great? I love that it feels more women-focused than some of the other books I checked out. Which honestly seems ridiculous considering that pregnancy is typically woman-focused. What I mean by that is that PCN puts forth the facts and stats about pregnancy and childbirth into the reader’s hands, while simultaneously discussing the options that she might want to consider during her pregnancy or delivery. And the book does it in a way that doesn’t feel condescending or passive aggressive.

Bonus: PCN has a great website that accompanies the book for additional resources, including printable PDFs.

Expecting Better

Every woman who is pregnant or planning to become pregnant NEEDS to read Expecting Better. Expecting Better challenges the  traditional pregnancy wisdom to shed light on the facts of pregnancy, giving you a sense of empowerment about this amazing time in your life.

Especially in the United States, pregnancy has a history of being treated as a medical problem. It’s something to be treated and monitored, like a disease. And since it’s treated as such, there are many restrictions that have been placed on women in our culture. Restrictions that have pretty much zero medical or statistical significance when you begin to look at the numbers.

Expecting Better gives you a bird’s eye view of the facts about bedrest, caffeine, genetic testing, gardening, sushi, and more.  

The Mindful Mom to Be

Mindfulness is an important quality to possess, regardless of your parenthood status. If you haven’t practiced mindfulness before,  pregnancy is a phenomenal time to start. Why now? Pregnancy is filled with excitement, anticipation, and sometimes anxiety. Mindfulness can help to take the unnecessary stress out of expecting by minimizing reactivity and maximizing observation.

The Mindful Mom to Be discusses the core of mindfulness, why it’s important, and how to practice it before, during, and after your pregnancy. Not only will mindfulness help you to stay calm and collected throughout your pregnancy, it will help tremendously when labor starts, AND when you’re figuring out life with a newborn. Being able to take a step back, clear your mind, and focus on your breath is a HUGELY beneficial practice, and it will help you to keep your sanity during those last few weeks of pregnancy, and the first few months of motherhood.

The Birth Partner

I know what you’re thinking. “Hold up, I thought this was a blog about pregnancy… The Birth Partner is about labor.”  

Correct! My intention here is to focus on the end game. Pregnancy isn’t forever (despite what you may between week 36 and 40). Pregnancy does come to an end, and that’s when labor gets started. The Birth Partner is intended for labor coaches like dads or partners, and doulas, but it’s also great for the people who are doing the actual laboring (i.e. you and me).

The Birth Partner discusses a TON of natural labor techniques and strategies, as well as questions to ask and pathways to consider should any complications arise. It also gives labor coaches a great idea of what to expect from moms as they labor, and how to provide comfort and support during the most trying parts of labor.

This book is great for you and your labor coach to read together, and discuss comfort strategies and the best way to help you both through this exciting time!

Giving Birth With Confidence

Giving Birth with Confidence is another book about the process of labor and delivery. I love this book because it’s the official Lamaze International guide for childbirth. Giving Birth with Confidence made me feel incredibly confident about going into labor.  Before I read this book, I felt uneasy, like I wasn’t sure that my body could handle it. After reading just a few chapters of Giving Birth with Confidence, I felt like a different woman. I was like, “Heck yes, my body was made for this. It knows what to do, and all I have to do is go with the flow.”

Giving Birth with Confidence discusses the traditional OB approach to pregnancy and childbirth, and provides statistical evidence for medical interventions, labor strategies, and the best practices for labor coaches and doulas. It made me feel incredibly empowered to know that my body and my mind will guide me through this process, and that I CAN and WILL come out victorious in the delivery room.

… And Finally

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. One of the most popular pregnancy books of all time is What to Expect When You’re Expecting. So why isn’t it included in this list? In the past 5-7 years, What to Expect has received some backlash from the pregnant community as being outdated and “dumbed down” for the modern pregnant woman.   

Many of the concepts in What to Expect are based on traditional advice and recommendations from the American Council of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Which on the surface seems great, but ACOG has a history of focusing on the medicalization of childbirth (i.e. more interventions, less natural options).

My opinion? This was the first book I bought when I found out I was pregnant. My focus was to absorb as much information about pregnancy as possible, and I feel like this book was fine for that. As I progressed through my pregnancy, I wanted to explore other viewpoints, which led me to the other books that I’ve listed. What to Expect gives you a good idea of what to expect (get it?) from a traditional OB approach to pregnancy and childbirth, but I wouldn’t call it an empowering book.  

Which books did you read when you were pregnant?

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