I've been reading a lot of books this past year that have really helped me get informed and prepared for childbearing and rearing. I've also read a few that freaked me out and didn't help at all, but I'm not sharing those. These are the good ones:
I think all women should read this book, if only to really appreciate how amazing and fully capable our bodies are of birthing babies. It was fascinating and gave me so much confidence in approaching birth. I've already surrendered my copy to a pregnant friend and I think I need to buy another just to give away again.
I found this book on the required reading list for Doulas. It's pretty old, and I was continually surprised at how much it emphasizes positive thinking and visualization as a vital tool in childbirth. But everything I've learned since then about birth from my healthcare providers has followed along pretty well with everything I read in this here. So great.
Once I have this baby, I sincerely hope that we can get sleep under control during the first year. I think Tim and I will be better parents if we can get good rest. I've talked to lots of moms who used the information in this book to sleep train their babies into sleeping all night by 7-8 weeks. My hopes are high!
As much as I observe from other people and hear advice like "girl, your life is gonna CHANGE!", living with a newborn is still a great mystery to me. What do babies do all day? What will I be doing all day? This book simply told the story of days with a baby, and how a parent's life changes and characters develop through the struggle and triumph of the first year. I love Anne Lamott. She reminds me that it's okay to be human and fragile and make mistakes without living in guilt, a skill that I think will be really important in early motherhood. This is a non-fiction memoir from a grandmother's perspective.
[one resource that I would highly recommend NOT using is the documentary on this subject called the Vaccine Wars. My personal opinion is that it does not present well-balanced or well-researched information.]
Personally, I loved this book because it shed light on my own experience of growing up in France with American parents, but I think it could be beneficial for all-American families too just because most cultures can learn so much from each other if we're willing to pay attention to another way of doing most anything, including parenting. I wouldn't say France does all things well in raising children, but I wouldn't say America does either. There's a lot of fascinating information in this book. And it's an entertaining read.