Every time I thumb through From The Hips I see something that I wish I'd read when I was preparing for motherhood.
The book is color coded by phase (pregnancy, birth, becoming a parent, and baby), so the information you need is easy to find. The anecdotes and quotes are plentiful, which illustrates very clearly that there are many kinds of mothers, circumstances and babies, and give the book an easy, shoot the breeze kind of feel without skimping on needed information. It's a good balance between a dry medical manual (or a scary catalogue of all the horrible things that could happen) and an insubstantial but friendly Girlfriend's Guide type of book. You can use this book for a handy reference guide and also for little boosts of necessary, valuable emotional support: the authors, Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris, take constant care to address the psychological impact of whatever's under discussion, from having your child end up in the NICU to your post-baby body- and self-image.
But it's not all serious; pop culture makes its appearances, notably in a discussion of the MILF phenomenon: "The idea that a mom who is also supersexy can be a relief from the dowdy suburban stereotype. Finally, mothers are allowed to be desirable". That's great! But! It's also kind of a relief to have that time in your life when you don't have to conform to any kind of hotness yardstick, and the MILF standard has raised the bar a little beyond yoga pants and milky t-shirts. "How are we supposed to feel good about our bodies when all the "hot moms" we see look like they're not moms at all?". Cuts both ways, that MILF thing.
There is even a section on the dangers of Internet self-diagnoses: "When you are up at 2 AM maniacally cross referencing acog.org with marchofdimes.org with a blog post recounting the tragic story of someone's cousin, you're not even seeing straight, much less seeing things in context. And though you may eventually come across some information that soothes you enough to shut down the computer and go back to bed, on the way to that information you may have come across a few sites that made you think that you might be about to drop dead." Truer words were never written.
The best thing about this book was the even-handed treatment of the wide range of parenting styles a new mother is faced with, and the acknowledgment of the stress so many choices can produce. At the end of the book there is a pro/con rundown of a few popular parenting gurus, who likes them and why, and how to tell if what they each advocate would be a good fit for you. It's easy to find a book that will tell you to do whatever is right for you and your family, but I've never seen one before that will actually help you sort through everything to find out what that actually might be.
If you're in the market for a friendly, hip, authentically informative, colorfully fun guide to pregnancy and the transition to parenthood, From The Hips delivers. (ha!)