Now that we're in the home stretch I feel like we are finally prepared to have this baby. I know no amount of books or gadgets will fully prepare us for what is about to come, but at least I don't feel like I'm going into motherhood as clueless as I was 33 weeks ago.
One thing I can not get enough of... BOOKS! No, I'm not talking about pregnancy books or week by week books that just get you through the stage of "WTF is going on in there." I mean breastfeeding books, parenting books, books about children's health and care, books for moms, magazines about parenting and babies, just about anything that resembles a baby owners manual.
So far my favorite books include anything written by Dr. Sears.
The first book I read was The Breastfeeding Book. This book is HUGE. Don't let the size of the book freak you out. If you want to breastfeed, and are dedicated to try anything to make it work, this book is worth reading. There is a lot of information in this book and the book can be a tad bit repetitive, but I found that helpful with reiterating the important parts. There's also a large chapter for the husband to read about how to support his wife's desire to breastfeed and the reality of what a challenge it can be for both parents and the baby. After seeing my sister and my sister-in-law struggle with breastfeeding, (one now successfully breastfeeding and the other is exclusively pumping) cracked and bleeding nipples, and deal with latching issues, I'm SO glad I read this book! I feel as prepared as possible going into the challenge.
(A great website for answers to questions about breastfeeding is http://www.kellymom.com/)
Now, I'm currently reading The Baby Book. This book is another HUGE book written by Dr. Sears. Again, don't let the size of the book keep you from reading it! I've only been reading it for a week and have already gotten more than halfway through. If you happen to read The Breastfeeding Book first, there's a section in The Baby Book on breastfeeding that you can either skip, or skim through. Much of the same information is repeated regarding breastfeeding. This book discusses Birth, Preparing for the Baby, Bonding with a Newborn, Postpartum, Caring for the Baby's Body, Common Concerns with Newborns, Infant Feeding and Nutrition, Baby wearing, Getting Baby to Sleep, Working and Parenting, Development and Behavior, Toilet Training, and what seems like a million other topics from earaches to fevers and first aid to CPR.
Another Dr. Sears book I've enjoyed reading is The Vaccine Book. This book discusses each vaccine in detail including what's in the vaccine, what the vaccine is supposed to prevent, common side effects of the vaccine, and when the vaccine is typically given. This book is great for someone that wants to make up their own mind about vaccines. Dr. Sears doesn't preach his opinion on vaccines, he gives you the facts in detail and lets you develop your own opinion based on research and facts. I highly recommend this book for anyone that would question shooting drugs into their own body, let alone the body of your newborn baby. **I'm not against all vaccines, but there are some that I question and do not consider necessary** If you decide to buy this book, keep a highlighter and some post-its handy. It's very loaded with information and not easy to remember all of the details and abbreviations.
Some non-Dr. Sears books that I'm enjoying are The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood (also love the G.G. to Pregnancy) and the Mommy Rescue Guide Baby's First Year. The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood is a good book if you want all the dirty details your doctor and friends won't tell you! I'm still in the process of reading the book and so far it's been a nice light read. The first chapter about hospitals doesn't apply to my situation (all hospitals are different) so if you start the book and think it's outdated information, just skip past the hospital chapter and move on to Chapter Three: Assessing The Damage. I love the authors straight talk and humor! This book is about YOU, not the BABY. If you're spending all this time reading about how to take care of the baby, the least you can do is read one book on how to take care of yourself. I recommend this book for that purpose.
The Mommy Rescue Guide Baby's First Year book is small and fits perfectly in my purse, diaper bag, or on the table next to the recliner in the nursery. It's a quick easy reference to diaper changing, breastfeeding, bathing, bottle feeding, sleeping, playtime, etc. Probably not the most necessary book, but I like that it is small and easy to read. Probably something I'll toss at my husband when I'm tired of repeating myself :)
The book that comes highly recommended by family, friends, and L&D nurses at my hospital is The Happiest Baby on the Block. (There's also a DVD that we'll probably rent from the library before Lillian arrives... that way I know Phil will get a review of the information in the book) The author of this book believes the baby has a 4th trimester once it's born (the first 3 months) and needs comforting that resembles the womb until the baby is able to self soothe. The steps to creating this environment are called the 5 S's: Swaddling, Side/Stomach position, Shhh sounds, Swinging and Sucking. After watching my two newborn nieces, I can see first hand how these steps lead to a calm, happy, baby that sleeps well and feels loved and cared for. I have only seen clips of the movie, so I'll definitely be reading this book in a couple of weeks.
American Baby (free by subscription) Parents Magazine, Parenting and Newborn Magazine, and Fit Pregnancy have also been great resources for learning how to take care of myself and the little one. There are also articles about keeping your marriage healthy while parenting together. I've kept all of these magazines and plan to re-read them during the many feeding sessions that Lillian and I will have over the first few months! The nightstand in her nursery has a bookshelf perfect for keeping them on hand, along with the book my pediatrician gave me and the Mommy Rescue Guide.
Last but not least, the gadgets. My sister-in-law gave us an Itzbeen for our baby shower. She swears by it, but I've found a great application for my iPod (Total Baby) that stores information about the baby's doctor appointments, vaccine schedule, feeding schedule, diaper changes, and a bunch of other details to keep track of related to the baby. The Itzbeen is OK, but you can't go back and look at the day before or keep track of appointments on it.
That's enough rambling for now :) I hope some of this information has been helpful!