Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Must Read: Natural Parenting Top Ten

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

In a lot of ways, my parenting philosophy happens to align with the principles of Attachment Parenting. The first principle is Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting:
Become emotionally and physically prepared for pregnancy and birth. Research available options for health care providers and birthing environments, and become informed about routine newborn care. Continuously educate yourself about developmental stages of childhood, setting realistic expectations and remaining flexible.
I did a lot of my preparation for pregnancy, birth, and parenting (and continue to) through reading. Because of that, I'd like to share my top ten (or so) favorite books that I've enjoyed reading (so far) in my preparation for pregnancy, birth, and parenting. I've added a brief description of why I like the book and, in some cases, a quote or two from the book. Here they are:
  1. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, CPM: I love this book! I like how the first half is birth stories, and then the second half is about the "essentials of birth," explaining the physiology of birth, outlining the tests and medical procedures you might encounter, and emphasizing the mind/body connection. I like that she cites her sources at the end of each chapter for easy reference. A couple of my favorite quotes:
    "Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body."
    "Men take it for granted that their sexual organs can greatly increase in size and then become small again without being ruined. ...[O]bstetricians of earlier generations planted the idea (which is still widely held) that nature cheated women when it came to the tissues of the vagina and perineum (give it one good stretch, and it's done for, like a cheap girdle), and a lot of women have bought the idea that their crotches are made of shoddy goods."
    (For more amazing birth stories from Ina May Gaskin's births on The Farm, read Spiritual Midwifery.)
  2. At least one of these (if not all): The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer, Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, or Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy: I like all of these books as ways to learn about your options and empower you to be an informed and involved participant in your health care. However, I wouldn't recommend reading Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born while pregnant, since it explores some pretty dark times in the history of obstetric care, and might not be the best thing to be filling your mind with during pregnancy (just my opinion).
    From Your Best Birth: "...[B]ecause this is your baby, it's up to you to decide what kind of birth is best for you—even if it's different from the type your sister, cousin, or best friend had. It could even be the type of birth that your OB-GYN hasn't initially suggested to you. Your best birth is one where you feel empowered because you know all your options and are confident in the decisions you have made about the birth."
  3. Birthing From Within by Pam England CNM, MA and Rob Horowitz, Ph.D: I love this book because it focuses on preparing your mind and spirit, your partnership and your home for the birth of your baby. I found pregnancy to be a time of deep introspection and self-reflection, and this book helped me on that journey. Sections include: The Art of Birthing, Being Powerful in Birth, Birthing Through Pain, and Gestating Parenthood. There are lots of exercises (reflective writing, drawing, etc.) throughout the book, and they're not just for pregnant women. I actually read this book the first time when I was completing my labor doula training, and I found it very useful in that application, too.
  4. The Pregnant Woman's Comfort Book: A Self-Nurturing Guide to Your Emotional Well-Being During Pregnancy and Early Motherhood by Jennifer Louden: The title pretty much says it all. This book is aimed at self-care for the pregnant woman and new mother. I used this book more like a workbook, using a blank notebook with it to go through the reflective exercises and write down any thoughts that came up while reading.
  5. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th Ed. by La Leche League International: This a classic and wonderfully comprehensive breastfeeding guide. It covers everything from nesting, birth, latching and early attachment, and the early weeks, to solid foods introduction, breastfeeding toddlers, pumping and alternative feeding routes, and weaning. The first edition was published in 1958, and what else can I say? A book that's been around that long and remained popular and relevant is a must-read.
  6. Bestfeeding: How to Breastfeed Your Baby by Mary Renfrew, Chloe Fisher, and Suzanne Arms: I like this book so much because it's an easy read, and it has lots of wonderful photographs of breastfeeding pairs. Breastfeeding is a learned skill, and in much of the Western world right now, it isn't something we grow up seeing all the women around us doing. The book covers breastfeeding basics, solutions to common (and less common) problems, and tons of great photographs.
    "Successful breastfeeding must become the respected and honored norm for women today. When it does, many more people will gain confidence in the fact that women's bodies work, and that babies are the best judge of their own food intake"
  7. The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two by William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, MD: The quintessential book about infancy and babyhood. I use this book more as a reference book, looking up things when I'm curious, instead of reading it cover-to-cover (all 675 pages of it!). I like all of the child development information in the later chapters. I also appreciate that there is honest and balanced information included about circumcision. This book is also geared toward promoting healthy attachment through the early stages of your baby's life. It is also inclusive of cloth diapering, co-sleeping, babywearing and other natural parenting practices. (And, of course, William and Martha Sears have written a bunch of other great books that I could put on this list, too.)
  8. Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina: This is a fascinating scientific (but not difficult to read) look at child brain development from its beginnings in utero until age five, and most importantly, what we can do as parents to provide the best environment for our kids' brains to grow. He emphasizes the need for lots of face-to-face time, he explains why we should limit screen time for little ones, he encourages talking to kids—a lot. He discusses intelligence and IQ, discipline and spanking, fussiness and morality. At the end of each chapter, there are lists of key points for you to review. One of the things I like best about this book is that John Medina stresses that a safe, loving, nurturing environment is the most important aspect of helping your child's neurological development.
    "Intelligence is not developed in the crucibles of machines, but in the arms of warm, loving people."
  9. The Attachment Connection: Parenting a Secure and Confident Child Using the Science of Attachment Theory by Ruth P. Newton, Ph.D: This book is all about attachment theory (not attachment parenting, which can be easy to confuse). It discusses how to foster your child's secure attachment using findings from attachment theory research. The author stresses the importance of focusing primarily on your child's emotional development during the early years. She explains the difference between the types of attachments (secure, insecure-avoidant, and insecure-ambivalent) and explains how we should be striving to be "good enough" parents.
    "Raising secure, emotionally competent, cooperative children who have full access to their creativity and expression is desperately needed for the health of the human race and the health of the planet. Raising secure children matters."
  10. Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn: This book is about positive or gentle discipline, about working with our children instead of trying to control them. I really believe Alfie Kohn is right on about how we shouldn't place value judgments on our kids' actions, but rather seek to provide them with unconditional love (and the research supports this concept). Then, when things are going wrong, we should try to discover what they are really needing in a situation instead of withdrawing love, affection, and attention from them in those moments.
    "Lots of people believe that when any individual, even a small child, does something bad, then something bad should be done to that individual in return.... Never mind whether punishment works, whether it teaches any desirable lessons or has any constructive effects on children's values or behaviors. Many parents continue to use it because they see punishment as a moral imperative. Indeed, you have to swim against the tide in our culture if you chose to respond to children's misbehavior in any way other than by imposing an unpleasant consequence."
I've enjoyed making this list, and it's making me want to go back and re-read several of these books again! Tell me, what are some of your favorites? What books would be on your list?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)


  1. Great books. I also made a top 10 book list and we have a few in common :)

  2. Lovely books! My favorite is Touchpoints by T. Berry Brazelton and #9 The Attachment Connection: Parenting a Secure and Confident Child Using the Science of Attachment Theory is now on my list.

  3. I would include Raising Our Children Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort which taught me how to live in Freedom and Joy with my children.

  4. Great list! One of my favorite pregnancy books is Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn by Penny Simkin.

    I'm finishing Playful Parenting right now and I think it's a must read.

  5. Great list! You've got a couple of my favorites on here. ;-)

  6. Love book lists!! I don't have any of these which, though I came late to the natural parenting world. Alfie's book is already on my list and I find it crazy that I haven't read it yet as it has come up so many times in my life...

  7. I love reading! I've read most of these and agree that they are great. But I haven't read Brain Rules and the Attachment Connection and I think I'll have to go find those. Thanks!!

  8. Your list almost makes me wish I could do it all again...
    I need to check out #'s 8,9,10
    I have a new favorite right now called, "Your Three year old: friend or enemy". It's given us great comfort just to know she's not suddenly insane.

  9. Fabulous list! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Come & Join the Playdate!

  10. Great list! I have read over half of them, and now I have a few to add to my reading list. Thank you!

  11. Oh dear: "Men take it for granted that their sexual organs can greatly increase in size and then become small again without being ruined." That is priceless! And I can't believe I've never heard of Bestfeeding - I need to check that out!

  12. All right, I have even more books to put on hold! I love Ina May, Sears, & Alfie Cohn and found Henci Goer's book very helpful as I researched birth options initially. I like the idea that Bestfeeding contains lots of photos, because you're right — that's what's really needed: modeling. I totally want to check out the Brain Rules book. Sounds fascinating!

  13. I love #s 5, 7 and 10. And I'd like to read the rest! Thanks for sharing your favorites!

  14. I just picked up a copy of The Baby Book last night at a consignment sale--yay! I haven't read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, but I loved Spiritual Midwifery. It helped me so much with my second birth.

  15. I have almost all the books on your list! I would also recommend Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman

  16. My favorite attachment parenting book is Jan Hunt's The Natural Child: Parenting From the Heart.

  17. Thanks for all the recommendations! I've got quite a list to work through now. =)

  18. I found this article so amusing because the journey is so exciting and interesting itself. Wish you all the best for your future. practically best pregnancy planning is something that every couple should go for since it is really effective.

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