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July 6, 2015 / bethanyshondark

My Advice to My Pregnant Friends

Perhaps because I’m so outspoken about pregnancy and childbirth, I’m often one of the first people many friends tell when they’re pregnant. I’ve rewritten this email enough times so I’ve decided to just blog this advice.

Pregnancy books

I don’t recommend What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It will drive you nuts. I swear it gave me symptoms I didn’t already have. The only two books I found helpful were:

Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: This is the smart woman’s version of What to Expect. It also has a great section with some real talk on childbirth. It was the only book of the dozen I bought about pregnancy that I kept for the next time around.

Expecting Better: What the hell is behind all of those recommendations your provider gave you? Seriously no sushi? Seriously not even a glass of wine the whole nine months? How do French babies not come out with three heads if that’s true?

An honorable mention goes to the Ina May books on childbirth and breastfeeding. I found them a bit too positive and upbeat while birth loomed as this scary unknown, but I can appreciate them now on the other end of it.


I’m big into natural childbirth. I took a Bradley Method class with Tanya Wills with Manhattan Birth in NYC which I could not more highly recommend. Bradley classes are offered around the country, you can search for one local to you here. The book is also helpful.

On doulas, I recommend getting a good one. If you’re in Central NJ I loved Dorothy from Your Best Birth. Worth every penny. And a good doula is often a pretty penny. My best friend from high school Morgane is an amazing doula in Brooklyn and elsewhere in NYC and has a great FAQ on her website about what she does, and why they’re so expensive. Here’s some great info on the evidence behind doulas.

Other resources:

The Business of Being Born (I’m a big fan of the critical look on the technological overtaking of birth, but she’s not balanced enough on home birth and the differences between the types of midwives, who it’s best for, etc), Evidence Based Birth, Improving Birth and the Unnecesearean.


Before you give birth have your local La Leche League leader’s number available. Go to a meeting beforehand if you can as well.

KellyMom is a great resource on everything breastfeeding, as is the iPhone app LactMed for figuring out what medications are safe while breastfeeding.

If you are getting your breastpump through your insurance, I recommend Yummy Mummy in NYC. I had a very easy experience with them. They deliver nationwide.

Maternity gear

I blogged this a while ago. I’m still a big fan of the bra extenders, belly band to extend the life of your pants, candied ginger, unisom and Old Navy jersey skirt.


On car seats I recommend reading Car Seats for the Littles and their Facebook group. Warning that the Facebook group women can be kind of militant and not very nice if you don’t do exactly as they say. Here’s some science behind why rear-facing seats (seats that face the back of the car) are safest until at least two years old, preferably longer to age four. Two words: internal decapitation.  (The stuff on Sweden is interesting, also)

It’s worth spending money on a good carrier. I’m a fan of Catbird Baby myself, but it’s very much a personal choice based on baby and body type of parent(s) and baby, and needs (if you don’t plan on babywearing past infancy, if you have a bad back, etc).

Strollers are another personal choice. The Baby Guy NYC has a ton of video reviews on YouTube and I recommend actually going to the store to pick one out based, again, on your needs (do you walk a lot? do you need to traverse city streets or put it in your trunk?) If you have a car and a car seat that allows for it, having a snap and go stroller is a must, however.


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