If you're anything like me, you'll be reading all the pregnancy and baby guides you can get your hands on!
There are distinct schools of thought on the best way to bring up baby, from the controlled crying techniques of Gina Ford to the co-sleeping recommendations of James J. McKenna.
Pram or baby sling? Breast feed or formula? Cot or moses basket? There are reams of information of every aspect of motherhood even down to what to put in your hospital bag.
You really need clear, concise information from a reputable source you can trust and these five books became my bibles. I heartily recommend all of them and they are all available on amazon.co.uk.
What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
This was the book I turned to every night and at every twinge. Murkoff does not sugar-coat the information and points out what can go wrong as well as what is usually nothing to worry about. Don't expect cuddly photos of newborns, but do expect practical, "does what it says on the tin" advice.
"Heidi Murkoff has rewritten every section of the book, answering dozens of new questions and including loads of new asked-for material, such as a detailed week-by-week foetal development section in each of the monthly chapters, an expanded chapter on pre-conception, and a brand new one on carrying multiples.
The Fourth Edition incorporates the most recent developments in obstetrics and addresses the most current lifestyle trends (from tattooing and belly piercing to Botox and aromatherapy).
There's more than ever on pregnancy matters practical (including an expanded section on workplace concerns), physical (with more symptoms, more solutions), emotional (advice on riding the mood roller coaster), nutritional (from low-carb to vegan, from junk food-dependent to caffeine-addicted), and sexual (what's hot and what's not in pregnant lovemaking), as well as much more support for that very important partner in parenting, the dad-to-be".
On the other hand, if you want to spend, like I did, hours staring at pictures of developing babies so you can gauge how big your little one is at every stage of your pregnancy, this is the book for you.
"....this latest edition of Your Pregnancy Bible has been updated to take account of recent changes in antenatal and newborn care and to provide more comprehensive discussion of caesarean deliveries.
Given a fresh design, it still contains special fold-out sections on each of the trimesters and the birth process; week-by-week images of the developing baby; in-depth chapters dealing with all aspects of antenatal care, labour preparation, delivery experiences and care of the newborn; comprehensive reference sections on medical treatments and procedures in both pregnancy and the postnatal period and an extensive glossary of ante- and neonatal terminology".
When Caitlin was born I was completely clueless. I hadn't even put a nappy on a baby before. And I certainly didn't know anything about a day in the life of a baby. For example, I had no idea that a newborn will need substantial naps during the day and will not be able to play for much more than 45 minutes at a time.
It was with a huge sigh of relief that I stumbled upon Tracy Hogg's wonderful Baby Whisperer books. Both this one and her problem solving guide (below) were invaluable in teaching me the importance of routines so that everyone in the family knows what is happening and where they are. Tracy sadly died in 2004 but her advice is still relevant today I think.
"In this remarkable parenting book, Tracy demystifies the magic she has performed with some five thousand babies. She teaches parents how to work out what kind of baby they have, what kind of mother and father they are, and what kind of parenting plan will work best for them.
Believing that babies need to become part of the family - rather than dominate it - she has developed a practical programme that works with infants as young as a day old. Her methods are also applauded by scientists: 'Tracy's is a voice that should be heard. She appears very knowledgeable about modern infant research and has incorporated this to a level parents can understand. In spite of all the baby how-tos on the market, this one will stand out.'
BUT she does not advocate "accidental parenting" which is where parents accidentally use props to get baby to sleep - like giving them a bottle, or rocking them, for example.
Several methods are given in the book to help parents teach their baby the all important sleep basics which includes a strictly structured routine (E.A.S.Y.) and the pick up put down (pu/pd) method for putting baby to bed.
E.A.S.Y. stands for Eating, Activity, Sleep and You and Tracy suggests timings for each activity according to the age of the baby. The Pick Up, Put Down Method looks at how you put your baby to sleep in her cot and focuses on getting her to sleep alone. Tracy suggests a "Four S" wind down ritual to set the scene (swaddling perhaps, sitting quietly, and shush-patting to help quieten your little one down). Even if you don't adopt her ideas wholesale, there are enough ideas in the book to help you work out what works for you and your baby.
The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems
The follow-on book to "Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer", this one answers a whole host of questions from parents of babies at differing stages of development.
It focuses on the "Big Three" - sleep, feeding and behaviour from infancy to the age of 3 and explains Tracy's philosophy and methods in much greater detail. I think you really need both of these books to get the best out of the system.
Annabel Karmel's The Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner
Once Caitlin started her weaning around 4 months and had got past the baby rice and simple apple puree stage, I became completely stuck on what to feed her. Annabel Karmel's books were fantastic at giving a range of ideas for simple purees and combinations to educate your child's palette and to introduce a wide range of foods.
I think it's no coincidence that Caitlin will now eat anything and is quite adventurous in her tastes (olives, for example). By the time Ieuan came along, he had less of a range of purees and mini meals and, is far fussier with food than his sister.
You will need a good blender and a range of freezer proof pots in varying sizes.
Annabel Karmel is undoubtedly the UK’s No.1 author on feeding babies and children and this particular book is the one I turned to time and time again.
It contains: "the best first foods to try, tasty recipes and ideas for introducing more complex flavours and textures; meal planners and time-saving menu charts allowing you to highlight and record which recipes your children liked and disliked. The original version of this book has sold over 4 million copies worldwide, with Annabel becoming a leading resource for parents who want to give their growing family tasty, wholesome meals that even the fussiest eaters will love".
So there you have it - my 5 pregnancy bibles, now handed on to other expectant mums so that they can feel as comforted by them as I did.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I will only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.