I have had 3 pregnancies, 2 natural labors, and 2 incredibly traumatic births. Y'all know me, and you know that I try to live as natural as possible. But through my first & second pregnancy there was very little, evidence-based, information for a natural pregnancy and childbirth available. For my third pregnancy I found a community for a lot more support. As a #crunchymama myself, I cannot tell you how excited I was to receive this book to review. When it arrived, I literally tore into this book with the hope that it would be such a valuable resource for the natural community. Let me assure you, this week by week guide to natural pregnancy and childbirth does NOT disappoint. By now you've probably heard all about Mama Natural, she's ah-maz-ing! She saw a need for more natural resources for expectant mothers so she set out to have a third baby: The Mama Natural Week-By-Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth. This book follows mama and baby through every week of the pregnancy. She gives you a manageable chapter to get through each week (remember you're totally tired being pregnant or chasing another toddler around so time is limited!). Each week starts with a quick update of what is going on with mama and baby and then dives into an important topic for that week or common questions mama might be having at that time in the pregnancy. At the end of each week she leaves mama with a list of 2-3 items to accomplish. And these items are attainable....one was "sleep". Can I get an amen?! The weeks are packed with beautiful illustrations and birth affirmations (here are some of her affirmation cards that I highly recommend, and here are my far less pretty but scripture cards for labor & delivery affirmations). There are also various checklists provided for mama to physically put a check mark next to as she prepares for baby's arrival, for things mama has been worrying about as well as things that haven't even crossed her mind yet.
This hearty guide covers everything from a natural perspective, cover to cover, and everything is all gathered in one place. Here are some of my favorite topics covered: essential oils, water birth, various forms of midwife certification, safe recipes, safe home cleaners, natural remedies, EMF exposure, state & local laws, over the counter drugs, maternity clothes, registries, cloth diapers, personal anecdotes, intercourse while pregnant, various forms of birth classes, pelvis exercises for best baby positioning, skin conditions, lovely hemorrhoids and stretch marks ;-), bed sharing, VBAC, birth plans, interventions, tests and screenings, placentas, breech babies, breastfeeding, pain management, stages of labor, cord clamping, circumcision, mama-baby bonding, babywearing & soooo much more! That was a long list, but it was really hard to narrow down!
Of course, I have to note that Week 13 is my all time favorite; this neuroscientist just couldn't help herself! It's all about the brain and how it changes in response to the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. And it was all accurate folks!
In a world of mommy-shaming, this book is all-inclusive. While it is naturally focused, there is no shaming. This guide does address fertility, loss, epidurals, and c-sections (or as I prefer to call it surgical birth), and gentle cesarean. All of these options are respected & honored for their ability to save lives.
What I love about this book, is not only is it naturally-focused, but it acknowledges that mama plays a huge role in this pregnancy thing. You cannot have birth without mama and yet so many apps and books only focus on baby. Of course the health and development are important and Mama Natural discusses those topics too, but I love the immense emphasis placed on mama because her desires should be honored and respected. I had to search high and low for care providers who would respect my preferences with my birth plan. While I'm grateful that I had such amazingly intelligent and attentive caregivers, it shouldn't have been that hard to find. What was so "weird" or "different" about my wishes being more natural? Why did I have to work so hard to be respected?! Doesn't that sound shameful for the 21st century? There is a trend happening now with a huge shift in the natural direction. It is my hope that all women, no matter what their birth preference is, are respected for their choices. I want my daughter to have a world that respects her choices and wants to support her in that path. I pray that not only does this book help the Natural Mama now, but the Natural Mamas of the future as well.
I cannot recommend this book enough; it is phenomenal and a great reference to have on hand. This book is not on sale yet, but you can preorder it now here. This awesome guide goes on sale April 25, 2017