As mothers day approaches, I wanted to write a post to bring together all my favourite natural health resources for pregnant women, who are beautifully blossoming mothers-to-be. Pregnancy is such a sacred and magical time, and unfortunately a lot of the health-related information out there is very clinical and medicalised. I wanted to focus on wonderful, inspiring resources that can support and guide women preparing for motherhood in a holistic and life-affirming way. Read on for my top recommendations, as a fellow pregnant mama who is greatly appreciating having these resources for the second time around. I hope they are helpful for you.
The Natural Pregnancy Book - By Dr Aviva Romm
Dr Romm is somewhat of a hero of mine. She worked as a home birth midwife and herbalist for twenty years before completing her medical training at Yale in the USA, and she now integrates the best of mainstream medicine with natural medicine in a heart-centered and very approachable way. I find her integrative approach incredibly refreshing and reassuring. This book is a comprehensive holistic companion to pregnancy and childbirth.
As well as covering all the necessary basics of prenatal care in a gentle and health-affirming way, such a truly nutritious organic diet, healthy exercise and the importance of relaxation, Dr Romm provides extensive information about using herbs safely in pregnancy as well as compassionate insights about the physical and emotional changes pregnant women go through. There are chapters dedicated to the sacredness of pregnancy such as "Becoming body centred" and "Pregnancy as a rite of passage". And perhaps most valuable of all, there is a lengthy section of the book dedicated the common pregnancy issues such as morning sickness, constipation and fatigue, with a detailed discussion of each and the various safe, effective remedies that can be used to treat them. Remedies include herbal, lifestyle and dietary recommendations that are tried and tested, and may help women avoid unnecessary medication or intervention in pregnancy. I can't recommend this book highly enough - it is a must-have manual for all pregnant women wanting holistic guidance on their journey.
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Dr Sarah Buckley
Dr Buckley is an Australian doctor and internationally acclaimed birth expert who again integrates her medical knowledge with a more natural and holistic approach. The first part of her book is written as a collection of essays exploring the pregnancy and birth choices that women are presented with from the medical world, such as ultrasounds, epidurals, inductions and cesareans. Her approach is to provide as much information as possible from the scientific literature about both the pro's and con's of each intervention so women can make empowered decisions about their body and the baby. She also covers gentler options such as unmedicated birth and unmanaged third-stage labor, and provides evidence as to why women might consider these options. The second part of the book explores the science behind a gentle approach to mothering, and will give pregnant women some wonderful food for thought for when their beautiful baby finally arrives! Dr Buckley's book is extensively researched, well balanced and very enjoyable to read as it is interspersed with her own pregnancy and birth stories. I highly recommend this book for any pregnant women wanting to know more about the choices that she makes about her body and their implications for both themselves and their babies.
Ancient Healing for Modern Women by Xiaolan Zhao
Zhao's book is a beautifully written manual describing how the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine can be applied to every phase of a woman's life. Although this obviously isn't a book purely about pregnancy, it has a large section dedicated to this important time in a woman's life and is full of very practical ideas on how to nourish and nurture the pregnant woman. Zhao discusses the importance of looking after the physical and emotional health of women in pregnancy, both for their own future health as well as the health of their unborn children. She discusses general Chinese wisdom as well as specific suggestions such as herbal and dietary suggestions, stretches and exercise, relaxation techniques and acupressure. She also includes a fascinating pregnancy calendar describing which TCM Organ/Channel system is in predominance during each month of pregnancy, and the corresponding self-care suggestions to maximise the changing energy of each month. A lovely book with plenty of practical application after pregnancy as well.
Sitting Moon: A guide to rejuvenation after pregnancy by Daoshing Ni and Jessica Chen
This is a wonderful book that I recommend all pregnant women start reading in the later stages of their pregnancy! In our culture, there is a great deal emphasis on the health of mother and baby during pregnancy, but once the baby is born, the focus tends to shift to the baby's health whilst neglecting that of the new mother. In China there is a wonderful tradition called a "sitting moon" which is a period of time where both the mother's and baby's health is prioritised. I have written extensively about this practice in a previous blog here - for a comprehensive overview of this important tradition please do read it, and if you want more information, this book gives you all the information and tools that you need. This would be a great gift for a mama-to-be at her baby shower or blessingway :-)
Natural pain relief techniques for childbirth using Acupressure by Debra Betts (PhD)
Dr Betts is an acupuncturist and midwife who has dedicated her life to integrating the wisdom of Chinese Medicine with the Western management of pregnancy and birth. Her free acupressure booklet is a must-read for any pregnant woman preparing for labor and I always provide a copy to my pregnant patients as they approach their due date. Her website and booklet describe the location and use of specific acupressure points that can help women to prepare for labor, manage pain during labor, manage after-pains and also to help establish breastfeeding. There are videos on her website demonstrating how to find each point and she has also created a DVD on the use of acupressure during childbirth if you are wanting something more in-depth. This is invaluable information both for pregnant women and for their support people. I highly recommend you take a look at her wonderful and generous website here.
Well that wraps up my favourite recommendations for resources for pregnant women - I hope that you have found this informative and welcome you to forward this information on to anyone you think might also benefit. Are there other resources that I haven't mentioned that you found helpful yourself? Please leave a comment below. As always, if you have any questions or you would like to know more about how acupuncture can help in pregnancy, please feel free to contact me at any time. Best wishes to you.
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