Bellyitch Pregnancy Library Guide

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While doing research on a topic for a future post, I uncovered this gem from a Pan-African Parenting website which talks about the fact that the birth rate among women of color is substantially higher than white women, world-wide.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, and desperate for answers, I pored over pages of smiling, bulging-bellied blondes, brunettes and redheads alongside articles from using mayonnaise to moisturize my hair to using candy to toilet-train my child; exalting drugs my mother never used and food my grandmother never heard of. Where were my beautiful sisters in these magazines? Where were the nappy heads of my children? Where were MY issues, MY values, the wisdom of MY ancestors for expectant and new mothers?

the article ends by introducing a new magazine, Black Woman and Child. According to its publishers,

It is a publication for women who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant and/or have a child or children aged seven and under. That’s the “official” target market. Informally, Black Woman and Child is for women like us. Women who eat yam, green bananas, injera, callaloo, foofoo and other delicious food not included in the so-called “typical” pregnancy menu. Women with afros, twists and dreads. Women who like a little zouk, soca, highlife, jazz and ska in their workout. Women who put the words “African-centered” in front of “education.” Women who wear boubous, kente, mudcloth and headwraps. Women who boil herbs. Women who say “back home.” Women like me. Women like you.
This brings me to the subject of today’s post: revealing the books that were in my library when I was pregnant. Some of these I purchased for myself. Others were gifted to me. I don’t recall specifically seeking out books that relayed some of the unique cultural issues that I probably wouldn’t be able to find in a mainstream book. I didn’t really “see color” until it was time to pick a name and we decided we should consider African names. I being from Africa wanted to explore names beyond names from my home country. Ironically, none of my children have traditional African names. A shame. Oh well! Too late now! Though I think I may give them traditional names and allow them to decide if they want to take those names. I digress. Behold, my library list…

The books I relied on when I was pregnant including some targeting women of color include:

Mama’s Little Baby, 1998, Created specifically for the needs of the AfricanAmerican mother-to-be, this comprehensive reference contains everything the pregnant woman needs to know about conception, prenatal care, labor, delivery, and baby care. Wonderfully conversational in tone, this intuitive step by step guide provides the latest information on: Health risks such as high blood pressure, diabetes and sickle cell anemia, which blacks suffer from disproportionately. The book adapts traditional down home cooking recipes to provide healthful eating for mother and baby; deals with the special needs of single mothers. It explores spiritual, emotional, and mental health during pregnancy;l cultural information passed down from generation to generation.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
They had sold only 9 million copies of this book when I purchased this book when pregnant with my first child in 2001. It’s up to over 10 million sold now. The revised third edition of the popular pregnancy guide offers the authoritative yet reassuring advice that parents have come to rely on from all the titles in the What to Expect series. The book is arranged by month, from pregnancy test through labor and delivery. Each section offers answers to frequently asked questions, along with features such as “What You May Be Feeling” and “What You May Be Concerned About.”

Everything Else You need to Know Expect When Expecting was re

Yet despite all of its helpful information about nutrition, bodily changes, and fetal development, the pregnancy bible “What to Expect When Expecting” glosses over vital questions that enter every pregnant woman’s mind: “How should I tell my husband, my family, my boss that I’m expecting?” and “Can I park in the handicapped spot?” or even “Can I cut in line at the public restroom?” Author Paula Spencer expertly faces the challenge of answering these and many other serious and comical questions that pop up during pregnancy in this equally smart and entertaining look at etiquette for the new mom–and does so with plenty of sense and sensibility.

Proud Heritage. Two of three of my children’s names were selected from this book which includes popular names, traditional names, African Names, names of famous African-Americans. I liked that they explained the origins of the names. So no, they weren’t filled with the stereotypical interesting and colorful names African Americans are sometimes known to name their children.

You’re Pregnant!! A Guide to the Longest nine months of your life, 1995 is a very humorous, quirky fun quick read.

The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy, 1995 This was an equally humorous and very fun book. It captured a lot of the serious topics found in “What to Expect When Expecting” but infused with a very real and fun twist. I like this Amazon.Com review of the book because it is on point:

Beginning with the “10 Greatest Lies About Pregnancy” (number 10: Lamaze works), and ending with postpartum dementia, Vicki Iovine’s Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy has fast become the laywoman’s mouthpiece for the American pregnancy experience. Iovine is irreverent, sassy, and incredibly reassuring as she exposes the “truths” of pregnancy and childbirth, from sex to cellulite to cesareans. Iovine birthed four kids in six years, none of them twins, which certainly qualifies her as an expert. The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy does reveal Iovine’s particular cultural biases (pregnant or not, most of us don’t have record-producer husbands, hang out with supermodels, or wear size-four pants) and philosophical beliefs (she’s not a particularly strong proponent of natural childbirth or nursing), but, taken with a grain or two of salt, she provides many hilarious moments, acres of advice, and honest reassurance readers will find nowhere else.

For my husband, I purchased
My Boys Can Swim: The Official Guy’s Guide to Pregnancy, 1999. This is a quick read and is totally from the regular guy’s point of view. It is a refreshing take on the dude’s perspective. We hormonal lactating cranky moms don’t normally understand what is wrong with them when they aren’t answering our beck and call with a smile. My husband found it a good read.

Here’s a couple of recent books I never owned, but they appear to be fun and have gotten great response from reader comments on

Your Pregnancy Quick Guide: Women of Color, 2006
From the authors of the best-selling “Your Pregnancy” series, these are medically sound and succinct guides for the pregnant woman who needs detailed information on specific topics. “Your Pregnancy Quick Guide for Women of Color” is written for the women who need to know more about their colour and genetic background will affect their pregnancy. The only book written specifically for women of colour, it contains vital information on issues such as Tay-Sachs disease, sickle cell anaemia, Thallesemia, giving birth to multiples or low birth weight babies, hypertension and gestational diabetes – all of which are more prevalent in women of colour.

The Mocha Manual for Pregnancy Fabulousity, 2005
The “Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy” meets “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” for today’s professional black woman. “The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy” is a straight-talking handbook to pregnancy with contributions by doctors and personal stories from black women and celebrity mums. Kimberly Seals-Allers offers candid advice on specific health concerns affecting black women such as high blood pressure, sickle cell disease, diabetes, and low birth weight, as well as information about how to get your finances in order, how to cope with embarrassing pigmentation and hair texture changes, single-parenting, maternity fashion, how to deal with demanding jobs and hormone-induced meltdowns. Hip, funny, and refreshingly frank, this book is a must-have for all mothers-to-be.

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