The first thing I did when I found out I was pregnant was go to the library and check out nearly every book I could on pregnancy, birthing options, and pregnancy recipes. The first thing I noticed when I started reading the books I took out was that nearly all of them cater to very specific corners of the whole pregnancy gamut. Some cater to moms-to-be who want to know every single minute detail about the science of their baby’s development. These kinds of books are awesome in their scope but can honestly be hard to get through when you’re in the grips of first trimester exhaustion and have a hard time keeping your eyes open. Definitely bedside reading.
Others are more like good ol’ syndicated advice columns where the anxieties of moms are quelled in language that I can’t help but guess would be similar to Benjamin Franklin’s if he had ever expanded his expertise to pregnancy. Just comforting, *generally* solid advice that is useful but for sure shouldn’t be left completely unexamined. I’ll accept that you should probably cut back on your Starbucks Doubleshot habit during pregnancy, but sorry, I find little reassurance in the claim that I can continue cleaning my bathroom with noxious chemicals as long as I turn on a fan and sit down if I get dizzy. I think the number of unpronounceable chemicals on the side of the Ajax confirms that I shouldn’t have them in the house at any time, especially when a tiny little baby is a-brewin’.
Then there are what I will call the “special interest” pregnancy books that tend to discuss making your pregnancy organic, having a natural birth, and choosing green options for your pregnancy and birth. There is definitely a need for this kind of information among all maternity literature as they examine a lot of the aspects of pregnancy – such as delivery, diapers, and the other products you may use during this time – that in the past were not considered up for debate. But here’s the deal: many of these kinds of books open up on the defensive and kind of scare/guilt you into following their guidelines. I mean, you probably should – there’s no question about that – but we pregnant ladies are already overwhelmed enough and don’t need any extra worries and feelings of guilt that we’re failing miserably because the idea of having an epidural has crossed our minds or we don’t want to drive fifteen miles out of our way to go to the good grocery store that has organic produce. I suppose also that lately I’ve been a little overwhelmed with what I’m reading and viewing about the state of prenatal care in our country and how at-odds the health care seems to be with whatI consider to be common sense, and it kind of freaks me out that I may not be able to afford the kind of birthing experience I want.
By-and-large, reading any type of pregnancy book is good because it indicates that you are not going to stand idly by while your little baby grows in you. You are educating yourself and arming yourself with information that will make sense out of your pregnancy. Blah blah blah.
OK, here’s why you should really read pregnancy books, especially when you’re like me and enjoy a nice drive through Crazy Town when time permits: some of the things these books say and suggest you should do during your pregnancy are absolutely bonkers. And you never see them coming! You’ll be reading a nice book about dealing with your emotions when you’re preggo and then all of a sudden the author will tell you a story about how she went to a party during her pregnancy and felt like her privacy was being invaded when the bartender at the party was taken aback and clearly conflicted when she ordered a full-strength margherita for her and her husband to share. Well, yeah, lady! I can’t say I’m all that comfortable that you think I’m on your side on this one!
I’ve noticed that the popular books can be more fertile ground for these little gems of wacko, maybe because they’re geared at a broader demographic to whom crazy is subjective. So maybe my next example won’t shock you as much as it did me, but for that I would really like to know where the heck you’re coming from. I will say that this next part does make reference to female genitalia and the existence of sex (you knew it was coming – you are pregnant) so put on your little earmuffs if you have any objections.
Nearly all books (and OB-GYNs, and mothers, and friends) discuss the topic of Kegels with you, which are the exercises you perform to strengthen your pelvic floor in preparation for the end of your pregnancy and the birth. Performing them throughout pregnancy also allegedly snaps your vagina back to its pert self after the birth in a more timely fashion; we’ll see on that one. When you perform your Kegel exercises, you basically contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles alternately.
Now, as doing Kegel exercises isn’t exactly like doing crunches, at one point or another everyone wonders, “Am I doing this right?” Well, one super great tip I got from one very successful pregnancy book suggested that if you are wondering if you are doing your exercises correctly, you should start performing them during sex and ask your partner if he can feel the pressure. Seriously. You’ve gotta feel for the men whose nutso partners interrupt the scant sex they’re having during the first trimester for a confirmation that their vagina exercises are being implemented correctly. I don’t even want to imagine the dialog that would take place during this exchange. Can’t we all just agree that if you’re peeing and you can cut it off mid-stream, you’re doing your Kegels correctly?
For a week and a half or so, I was feeling overwhelmed with being pregnant so I shelved all my books and just tried to relax. It definitely helped to safely distance myself from these books for a time, but thank God I finally went back to them. A trip to Crazy Town every once in awhile does one good!