Go ahead and read to the end. There are prizes this time.
Because I possess a larger pregnancy-childbirth-and-infant collection than most medium-sized city libraries, and because it is no secret that the subject of reproduction is a favorite conversational topic, particularly in, say, the line at the DMV or at a family brunch, people, particularly pregnant people, are always asking me for book recommendations.
And often I have to think before recommending. Is Dr. Sears too sanctimonious for a single working mother? Is Ina May Gaskin too potent for the newbie? Is the Girlfriend's Guide packed too full of regrettable fashion tips?* Henci Goer too technical for a woman who just got her second pink line and feels a million years away from labor? What can I pick that will inform without being off-putting in either direction? And why are there no books with cool illustrations?
Well. Guess what? I now have a new favorite overall pregnancy book, and it does not suggest I don stirrup pants. From the Hips by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris is what I wish I'd had when I was pregnant and despite several years' worth of fairly technical reading on the subject just wanted somebody who could speak comfortingly but not condescendingly, and who didn't seem to be a relic of the days when pubic shaving was a regular feature of hospital birth, and it wasn't a homebirth without a bush like a blackberry bramble. It's what will go on top of the box o' books I ship off to every pregnant friend; it's the one I'll be able to suggest to pretty much anybody who asks for a recommendation, without racking my brain for every possible point of contention that might turn somebody off to an otherwise good resource.
Which brings me to another point: From the Hips is loaded with resource recommendations, both print and online, handily located by topic in little shaded boxes. The authors did a thorough job here -- every book in my library appears here, in addition to about fifty I'd love to read. (History of breastfeeding! Books for fathers!)
I think it's the first postmodern pregnancy book I've seen. There are colors in here! Separated by topic, so that when your baby is two days old and you hear some scary radio story about toxins in breastmilk you can just thumb through to the TURQUOISE pages and there you go! ("We need to let people know that while breast milk is still the healthiest food fo our babies, continuing to pollute our milk is not okay." Swoon.)"The layout is really pretty, designed for easy jumping around but thanks to the different colorblocks used not distracting. There are indeed illustrations, but of the ambient arty-comic variety rather than the true-to-anatomical-detail instructional variety. (How often do you get to see scrawly depictions of a woman using a breastpump? Or stick figures of positions for pregnant sex? Not often enough.)
The design reflects the tone of the book: funky, modern, and very very now. Up-to-date information on the peculiarities of childbearing in the twenty-first century makes this book a little unique among its peers -- the authors cover the latest prenatal tests, birthing options, postpartum support, cloth-vs.-disposable, what to do about work, and the aforementioned toxins in breastmilk issue. And then there's my personal favorite, the guide to mercury in sushi -- fish safety with English and Japanese names (yay unagi! Boo ahi!).
I'm a sucker for books that feel hip without being off-puttingly so, but I am also a bona-fide obsessive-compulsive stickler for accuracy, especially in the realm of childbearing which is so often packed with terrible advice and baseless medical customs. So it was with a critical eye that I approached the chapters on childbirth and breastfeeding. Lo and behold, the information checked out -- so not only is the book fun to read, it's good for you! Kind of like a chai-flavored Luna bar. WIthout the processed soy. Really, if you wanted to read only one book, and it had to cover pregnancy, birth, and newborn weeks, From the Hips would do you right. Everything is there, everything is solid, and everything is just so darned friendly to read. It's one-stop shopping.
In that spirit I would like to offer up two copies of the book (proof copies, so minus page numbers and some of the coloration, but still very much awesome, and FREE TO YOU so quit yer complainin') to YOU, loyal readers. I would like to give these to the first person from each of these two categories to email me saying "Me! Pick me!" The categories are as follows:
1) Someone who is newly pregnant (well, "newly" enough to want a pregnancy book) after at least three years of trying, and has not already committed to memory every single book, magazine article, and web page on the subject.
And in the interest of karmic balance:
2) Someone who is newly pregnant either totally by accident/surprise, or who hit the jackpot first month trying, and who doesn't know where to start with books.
Email me (linky up near the top of the page) and I will send the first responder from each category one copy, with the proviso that you must report back to the blog in the future with your opinion. I'll put your responses in a post.
Thanks as always to MotherTalk. Rock on, ladies.
*Stirrup pants. Also, What to Expect recommends brightly colored sneakers for a fashion lift.