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The second trimester, for most women, brings a wave of relief. Many of the unpleasant symptoms (fatigue, nausea, vomiting, etc.) that occur in the early weeks start to subside. There’s also a greater sense of confidence and calm as baby’s movements can now be felt and most diagnostic testing is completed. It’s also a great trimester for reading. The books below focus more on the experience of childbirth rather than pregnancy itself, and the last two books in this list start to prepare expectant parents for what comes after baby is born. Happy reading!

Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond: Nancy Bardacke is a well-known nurse-midwife who is well versed in mindfulness meditation. She spent part of her career teaching mindfulness-based childbirth classes at El Camino Hospital right here in the Bay Area, and this book is culmination of those classes. Whether you’re planning to have a natural birth or not, this book prepares expectant mothers and their partners for childbirth, providing lessons and exercises that can be practiced and rehearsed well before the big day. Even if you’re brand new to mindfulness mediation, this book is easy to read and follow, and the practice exercises are clearly laid out for moms and partners.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth: Have you found that when you tell people you’re pregnant they launch into their own horror childbirth stories, or stories they’ve heard? This is all too common in our society, and thankfully Ina May has a solution. Ina May Gaskin is the nation’s leading midwife, and for good reason. She draws on her years of experience with natural childbirth to tell positive birth stories, and restores the reader’s faith in her own body’s abilities. Regardless of what type of birth you plan to have, this book lays out the basics of childbirth and will guide you through the best ways to work with healthcare professionals that will be present during pregnancy/childbirth.

The Fourth Trimester: Kimberly Ann Johnson draws on her years of experience as a doula, yoga teacher and bodyworker to lay out the basics of healing after baby is born. Most women spend their entire pregnancies preparing for the birth of their babies, and never stop to consider what happens to them after they return home. They say that there are three births that occur on that special day: Yours as a mother, your baby’s, and your partner’s as a new parent. This book is a must-read and covers all aspects of healing in the postpartum phase. Learn about ancient healing modalities and how different cultures support this sacred time. It will better prepare you for the fourth trimester, or those precious 3+ months of major transformation that occur post-birth.

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting: Pamela Drukerman is a wonderful storyteller, and guides the reader through the foundation of French parenting and how it differs from the US. She tells her own story as an American raising a child in Paris, and through her story we learn valuable techniques for parenting in the early years. French children are known for being well behaved, sleeping through the night by age 2 or 3 months, and for having wide and varied palates. Witty, charming and educational, this is a fun read that will be referenced again and again in the early years with bébé.