This is a quick post to share a short(ish) list of my top reading recommendations for the perinatal time. I've been asked for suggestions more than usual lately, so I took it as a sign to put something up here. My resource-sharing bias is toward the postpartum period, because I've observed an information gap here (compared to the plethora of pregnancy and childbirth material accessible to parents-to-be). Also, it can be tough to find neutral, fact-based resources about the early days of parenting.
Here are my top 4 choices, you can see a more complete stack of recommendations in the photo. If you have a favorite perinatal read that I didn't include here, please say so! I'd love to hear about it.
The Complete Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger covers all the bases. Kitzinger offers up to date information, supporting parents-to-be to make empowered decisions about what's right for them through pregnancy and childbirth.
Fathering Right from the Start: Straight Talk About Pregnancy, Birth, and Beyond by Jack Heinowitz is an excellent guide and supportive resource for dads, encouraging meaningful participation in parenting.
The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, available in paperback and as an instructional DVD (I prefer the DVD). This is a wonderful resource for understanding infants in the fourth trimester, with tangible, gentle infant soothing methods to empower new parents.
The Fourth Trimester by Susan Brink. If I were pressed to recommend one "must read," this would be it. Brink is a science journalist who skillfully writes about infants in the fourth trimester. Without value judgments or anecdotal advice, she provides all the scientifically-based information we need to successfully care for newborns. This book is for everyone in the village: parents, aunts, uncles, friends, grandparents, and on.
I encourage my clients to choose resources wisely (especially those of the online variety--be careful, be selective!) and read only that which is necessary to help empower decision-making--it's so important to find your personal balance, gathering just enough (not too much, not too little) information. Lastly and most importantly: stay flexible, leverage your supports, and trust yourself through the process!
I've recently had the opportunity to connect with a few of the folks at Open Adoption & Family Services. A resource on the West Coast for 30 years, OA&FS has been a pioneer of open adoption, offering comprehensive training and lifelong support for adoptive and biological families. They are one of few non-religious adoption agencies in our country, and they identify as pro-choice, which allows them to provide comprehensive support to women through pregnancy termination, parenting, or adoption. Additionally, I appreciate OA&FS' commitment to helping families navigate the complex lifelong relationships created by adoption, with the understanding this helps adoptees "integrate the multiple facets of their identity." This progressive model isn't widely utilized in adoption, but it is a paragon that should help inform adoption reform around the world.
One of OA&FS' newest programs is Origins Therapy. This resource is offered to anyone in our community impacted by adoption or assisted reproductive technologies. Here's what they have to say about it:
We know how to make open adoptions work, and we’re bringing our uniquely specialized skill set to address these new therapeutic needs brought on by the complexities of building a family in the 21st century. We have learned that as children witness the important people in their lives come together and cultivate a mutually supportive relationship, they are able to integrate the many facets of their identity. While we believe children have a right to know the truth about their origins ... we also understand that sharing the truth can be daunting or scary for adoptive and intended parents, donors and extended family. We are here to support those who are discovering their own story, those considering sharing their story with their child, and those who are seeking support in their relationships as they relate to adoption and assisted reproductive technology.