In a talk I gave the other day on my pregnancy journey, I was asked to recommend trusted sources of information. My sources will always be books written by qualified experts. In the last few months (my pre-pregnancy and pregnancy phase) I read a lot of academic and research articles, blogs and books. I’ve complied a list of books that form my pregnancy reading collection (so far).
1. Yoga Sadhana For Mothers by Sharmila Desai and Anna Wise
Because yoga practitioners use their bodies every day, they are conscious of subtle changes that others may not notice. This can make pregnancy overwhelming or wondrous depending on the practitioner. Some practitioners end up focusing even more on their daily asana practice to feel a sense of ‘balance’ and ‘rootedness’ in the face of the major changes happening inside them.
My first trimester was marked by constant nausea and fatigue. I was able to muster just enough energy to do the bare minimum required. Most days this was just teaching classes between which I ate and slept so that tomorrow would come faster. The quality and state of my personal practice was the furthest thing on my mind. So reading about women who are obsessed with ‘losing’ their practice is unnerving for me. Many readers may marvel at the ‘commitment’ these women have towards their practice (so much so that some of them were back on their mats 6-9 days postpartum), but I simply found it irksome. After all, your life isn’t about your yoga practice, your yoga practice is about your life. I will say that this book has about two pages on PGP which were helpful.
The personal stories in this volume were full of anxiety about the pregnancy-related changes in a woman’s yoga practice, and I wish it had a more wholesome approach. What I learned from this book was how not to approach a yoga practice during pregnancy and how relaxing your hold on it can be more rewarding than straining your body to align with imaginary ideals.
2. What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
This tome is the bestselling pregnancy book of all time, and it has answers to pretty much any query you may have about conception, pregnancy and even postpartum. I recommend reading only the parts which apply to you and skip/skim through the rest. Too much information can bog you down. Even though the book is intended for an American audience, it’s still wonderfully relevant to the rest of us.
3. Expecting Better by Emily Oster
This book’s tagline of the book put me off – “Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know.” I don’t think the conventional wisdom is necessarily wrong.
Oster structures this book around the most common advice women receive during their pregnancies. She then investigates the scientific soundness of this advice. The book has separate parts for trimesters, conception and labor. Each part consists of chapters about the myths associated with each phase, such as women over 35 being of ‘advanced maternal age’ (a chapter I found interesting and relevant). She also writes about date for consumption of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.
I’ve tried to keep my pregnancy as simple and uncomplicated as possible. This isn’t easy considering we’re bombarded with unsolicited advice pretty much from all quarters. I feel the book does a good job of presenting research to lay readers. But at the same time, I feel there’s a lot of confirmation bias in her approach.
4. What’s a Lemon Squeezer Doing in My Vagina by Rohini Rajagopal
Throughout my journey I looked for books about Indian women, and after extensive search I came across this one written by Bangalore-based Rohini Rajagopal. Her honesty and rawness are touching. Rajagopal chronicles her five year long experience with infertility and (eventual) successful IVF. Whenever a doctors recommends any line of treatment, my first instinct is to speak to someone who has been through it and get real insight about the experience. This book is an intimate and honest look at the entire process with the human aspect intact.
I feel many of us read a lot of non-fiction during our pregnancies. But the faceless humans behind the statistics are important. This book bridges that gap.
I would recommend it for everyone’s pregnancy reading collection.
5. Yoga for Pregnancy by Rosalind Widdowson
A friend of mine gave me this book. It has great pictures but I’d say the book is more about stretching and mobility than yoga. But because it’s easy to follow, even non-yoga practitioners can follow the guidelines. I ended up skimming the book to see if I could find anything relevant for me.
I’d love your recommendations for other pregnancy-related books that I can add to my pregnancy reading collection. Books that moved you during your pregnancy. A book that you believe all pregnant or women on the conception journey should read. Leave the titles in the comments.