In this section of the blog you will find a reading list handpicked and reviewed by me. All of the books listed will be relatable to pregnancy, motherhood, parenting, children and overall wellbeing for the entire family.
Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
This is a must-have for all mothers, parents, birth workers and anyone interested in the power of childbirth! The first half of the book is focused on wonderful birth stories of all sorts, and the second half details Ina May’s practices, teachings, and philosophies for how to have the best birth experience possible. For many years Ina May helped deliver babies at The Farm, a wonderful community in rural Tennessee. The Farm has maintained c-section rates under 2 percent, Vaginal Birth After Cesarean success rates of 96 percent, and less than one percent vacuum or forceps assisted deliveries for over 40 years! Ina attributes much of this to the quality and content of care and support given to each of the mothers and their families once they come to The Farm. This book is a true ally for families who want to learn more about childbirth through inspiring stories, experiential insight from a successful midwife, and straight facts about what it takes to have the best birth possible.
The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary
This book will change the way you think about parenting, whether you’re a new parent or already have grown children. I personally believe that everyone should read this book, especially those of us who interact with children on a regular basis. Shefali gracefully and clearly expresses the importance of consciousness when relating to children, and the effect it has on all of us. The idea of “consciousness” may seem abstract, so let’s clear that up. Consciousness is essentially the extent to which we know ourselves, and are open to knowing ourselves. The way that we treat our children, and the world at large, is merely a reflection of our own inner state and our own need for growth. This is an especially useful way of being when it comes to children, as we tend to feel strongly about what we think (our) children should be like. If we evaluate our desires for our children, we are able to see where they stem from and if they are actually helpful, or just harmful projections. For example, if you have a child who you dreamed would be a star athlete just like you were, but that child doesn’t have the same affinity or talent for sports, you may place pressure on them to be “more athletic” or “try harder” to become what YOU hoped they would be, instead of accepting who they are. This tells the child that they are not good enough as who they are, and that in order to be accepted or loved fully, they need to change, which in turn effects their psychology and places more blocks and criticism into their own self-image. When you think about that consciously, it says more about you as a parent than it does about your child’s capabilities. The essence of this book is to learn how to support the most profound growth and life experiences for yourself and all of your children. If you are anything like me, you will find yourself applying things from this book to all of the relationships you experience. When we take responsibility for ourselves and accept, support, and unconditionally love our children, we live happier, fuller lives and so do all of the people around us. The world seems to be full of pressure and expectation, so in order for our children to learn they are loved, whole, happy and wonderful no matter what, we must learn to consciously parent and love them for who they are, whatever that may mean.
Letting Go: The Pathway Of Surrender by David R. Hawkins
I refer to this book extremely often, it is truly transformational– I even call it my “trusty companion”. If you aren’t familiar with the work of David R. Hawkins, I HIGHLY recommend his teachings. Dr. Hawkins has an effortless, light-hearted way of detailing how to attain (or, remember) peace, happiness and health in all parts of life, and easily speaks to all audiences. This particular book is helpful for anything disturbing your peace– whether it’s a money “problem”, relationship, health or job “problem”– for any sort of problem (anything that causes you suffering), the solution is to LET IT GO. I teach “letting go” (Surrender) to all clients in reference to their bodies and physical experiences (pertaining to fertility, during pregnancy, labor and beyond) and also when helping navigate the innermost transitions of/into motherhood/parenting, and to help heal trauma and suffering from any troubling experiences– the method can be used to “cure” anything, quite honestly. Mind-Body-Spirit. It is by-far the most transformational, healing, miraculous, and EASY technique for getting through all of the variables of life. Hawkins was the perfect person to detail the “handbook” to this practice, written in easily understandable language, created for ANYONE who would like to experience release from their problems and live happy, healthy, peaceful lives. The chances are if you open this book to learn how to better let go of the pain of labor, or the troubles of parenting, you will notice it’s healing qualities spill into every part of your life. Who doesn’t want to read a book that can change their world forever? That’s right, this book is for YOU!
Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success by Carol S. Dweck
This book is an absolute MUST READ for ALL! Carol S. Dweck explains the two “mindsets” that create the way we experience life, and how to adapt the best one in order to create a successful life. There is the “fixed” mindset, where it is believed that there is no room for growth and that the nature of who we are is unchangeable. This is the most commonly adapted mindset and is often characterized by blaming others, giving up when things go differently than planned, and refusing to take opportunities to learn and grow through CHALLENGES. On the other hand, we have the growth mindset, in which the perception of oneself and others is that of expansion and growth, characterized by the ability to rejoice in challenges and overcome them, the ability to “bounce-back” from failures and learn through them, and the ability to see oneself as a vessel of flowing opportunity. In the growth mindset, one believes that we are changeable and have the ability to expand and grow. With a fixed mindset, one believes that their intelligence, personality, and role in the world are “set in stone” and that there’s only so much one can do, while the growth mindset realizes that everything is flexible and can change.
Using real-life examples of each mindset, Carol explains why it is so important that we choose to have a growth mindset. This psychology is so transformational and empowering that many schools are making this a required course for teachers so that they may learn to help their students expand and grow, as opposed to discouraging students through believing they can only do so much. I found this book to be extremely helpful for me when I was working with a child who had very severe sensory integration difficulties (normally named sensory processing/integration “disorder”, but I don’t believe there is anything “out of order”, just a difference in the way these children process their senses). A lot of this child’s immediate support group adapted and maintained a “fixed mindset”, while others (including myself) had a “growth” mindset. I was able to see the radical difference it made to be supportive and patient with the child’s ability to grow at his own pace vs. defeat and “giving up” when it would get difficult during therapies and activities. When the air was filled with fear, stress and the idea there was “no hope”, paired with the pressure to live up to expectation, he too would easily give up in defeat and wail out in a tantrum. On the other hand, the child thrived when there was space filled with the belief of growth and healing– when you saw the light in him: his potential to overcome and his pure determination to thrive, he too would feel courageous, try something new and rejoice in his accomplishment, making progress every time this sort of environment was presented. The two alternating mindsets caused a lot of confusion and inner conflict in the child who wasn’t sure whether or not he could truly get better. Wavering consistently, the mindset adapted by his most cherished caregivers is the one that he tended to express: fixed.
It is important to discover what sort of mindset we are perpetuating in our lives because whichever one we have learned/chosen determines our ability to thrive and be happy. We can either be encouraged through our challenges and supported to grow through them, or we learn to feel defeated and frustrated which leads to giving up because we believe we have no choice. As a parent, especially, it is imperative to evaluate your habitual mindset to see what you are teaching your children. Teaching them to be growth oriented by being that way yourself helps children to adapt a growth perspective in life which is absolutely vital to their happiness, success, acceptance of themselves, self-love and self-image, and their ability to live a wonderful life. I recommend this book to everyone, and I know that once you pick it up, you won’t want to put it down. (Unless you have a “fixed” mindset and think growth is a load of garbage.)
An Easier Childbirth: A Mother’s Guide for BIRTHING NORMALLY by Gayle Peterson
This is an incredibly informative book and a reflective self-discovery journal– the best of both worlds. I use this book with each of my clients to help them to discover and navigate their own internal beliefs and ideas around birth in order to prepare emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually for birthing and being a parent. Gayle Peterson offers experiential information from her own practice over many years of working with women and families, alongside evidence-based facts and data. The exercises help one to reflect on things they may not have even considered like their own birth, their views and relationships with their own parents, and more, and how all of these things can contribute to what kind of birth experience you have. It is easy to get lost in the pages of this book, with as much information as there are activities. An Easier Childbirth is great for first-time parents, as well as those who already have children, and caters to varying family experiences. If you could read just one book before having a baby, I would suggest this one. You will meet yourself and your partner on a deeper level, diminish fear and questions surrounding birth, and learn how to birth normally— naturally.