Many of you will have been told not to read too much about pregnancy so as not to “scare you” or “put thoughts in your mind” as I prefer to call it. While still others of you will have been told to read everything you can get your hands on to prepare yourself for what is to come. I guess which advice you follow should really depend on what kind of person you are. I tend to be far more afraid of what I don’t know and so I chose a select few sources to read religiously and avoid as much of the noise of the rest of the world as I can.
As you may know from an earlier post I did on unexpected bleeding, I had avoided reading certain sections from these books – predominantly the ones some people suggested might make me paranoid or more likely to “think” there was something wrong – and I dearly wish I had not. In my mind now, there is no excuse for being unprepared – if I had educated myself properly I could have protected myself from at least some of the unadulterated fear I went through. And so, I thought I would share with you some of the better pregnancy companions I have chosen.
I have been reading three books since I found out I was pregnant and each provides me with something unique. There is, of course, the old favourite “What to expect when you’re expecting” by Heidi Murkoff. The information is very useful, but I tend to see it as more of a textbook than anything else; it has the same feel to me (not that it is a bad thing, I collect textbooks for entertainment purposes) – it is “required reading”, full of facts and advice and practical pointers, but it is lacking a bit of a personal voice in my opinion. Women the world over apparently disagree with me, and I am fine with that; reading is a personal thing to me and as with anything personal, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
The second book which I really enjoy is “Your Pregnancy week by week”. The content is short and sharp, and it also gives solid advice and information. My absolute favourite thing about it is the monthly drawing titled “how your baby has grown”; they are beautiful illustrations drawn to scale allowing you to see the actual size of your baby. I have stared in wonder at those images and held them up against my belly trying to imagine how it is humanly possible that something of that size will fit inside me. I flip back and forth between months, totally in awe of the way my baby is growing. I also absolutely love the actual artistry of the drawings – most sketches of growing babies have seemed quite frightening to me, these are of a really beautiful baby. I credit these sketches with my positivity and wonder at the growth of this little person inside of me, they made her and the experience real for me.
My absolute hands down favourite of the three has to be “The Rough Guide to Pregnancy & Birth” by Kaz Cooke. She has injected such personality into each page, that even the heavy stuff seems manageable. She is hilariously open about her experiences in her “diary entry” at the beginning of each week and she creates perspective and normalcy into the things she, and I, have experienced. She has struck a chord in me that resonates, from matching rapid weight gain, to belated first movements, to calling a spade a spade when it comes to the unpleasantness of the whole experience at times. The book does cover all the things that the other two do, but in a lot less formal way while maintaining the facts. As a writer, I am deeply envious of what she has achieved and as a mom-to-be I am deeply grateful that she found such a unique way of writing about the experience of pregnancy.
In addition to good old-fashioned books, I also downloaded the WTE app and the Baby Center app, as well as having signed up for their weekly e-newsletters. Both give relatively interesting day to day tips and info, although many aren’t quite relevant to me as a South African mom-to-be, as well as the weekly growth updates for me and baby. I wouldn’t consider them “can’t do withouts”, but they are relatively decent “nice to haves”. I have found a few of the articles that come in the e-newsletters to be interesting and / or relevant.
I have also found solace in some of the forum conversations of WTE and BabyCenter, although I find the spelling and grammar to be horrifying and deeply upsetting. I find it very reassuring that there are moms-to-be from all over the world who are experiencing exactly the same things that I am and more than once I have logged on with a nagging fear and read a question and response 50 people long who had exactly the same fear and often had advice as given by their doctor as to the normalcy of the symptom. Although there is often a lot of rubbish, rambling, atrocious spelling, and irrelevant local giveaways on forums in general, and on these in particular, there is definitely a benefit to looking for topics relevant to you.
Although there are a few Cape Town forums, the only one I have come across worth looking at in my opinion is moomie.co.za, I found some great threads on the forum when I had to start relooking at hospitals and doctors a short while ago. It is also an online magazine, which along with others such as mommymatters.co.za, have relevant interesting articles. I am also highly entertained by many of the blogs out there both local and international, but the list is far too long to give here; as is the case with the many interesting people I follow on Twitter (though you are free to go look at the list of those I follow).
I am a firm believer in educating yourself on anything that might affect you directly or indirectly, and let’s be honest – nothing affects you more directly that being pregnant and having to bring a new life into this world. So while I agree that you should not take everything you read as gospel, and you should never ever rely on only one source for information; I do think that reading multiple sources for different views on your experiences can only benefit you – and before you freak out that you might have the one in ten million chance of some extremely rare complication because you have 1 of 15 possible symptoms that indicate this – ask your doctor!