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When young moms ask: Is this normal?

The “Mayo Clinic's Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy” includes a 40-week pregnancy calendar, a symptoms guide and a breakdown of changes and growth for baby and mom. The informational guide offers self-care tips and decision guides.

As a first-time mom, I love reading parenting advice on blogs and in articles and books. I like to be prepared for the next stage of my baby’s development and for whatever crazy events may occur.

I’ve also discover that while infant fashion and mommy yoga classes are best found on Pinterest and Instagram, the nitty-gritty parenting details come from an old-school resource: books.

Four books helped me survive my first year as a mom. Some of what I read was funny, some was extremely technical and some was downright scary. In the end, with a new baby on my mind, each of these books offered something useful or interesting pertaining to my role as a new mommy.

1. ‘Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy’

This is a technical guide that will inform and overwhelm you at the same time. The first few chapters made me feel as if I’d enrolled in an AP biology course. It’s a great resource, but it reads more like an encyclopedia than a guidebook. For me, the Mayo Clinic compilation eventually became the ultimate reference book. If I read something online but still wanted a more clinical explanation, that’s where I turned.

2. ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting: The First Year’

This series is a survival guide for a new mom. The format is easy to follow, and Heidi Murkoff divides the chapters by chronological milestones. Each month is a new section. For example, “Month 1” covers breastfeeding, latching and newborn sun exposure. By “Month 9,” the questions move to “Is it normal that my child screams?” and “How do you get a finicky baby to try different foods?” The question-and-answer format is simple and makes the book a digestible read.

3. ‘The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy’

The most comical read during my pregnancy, “Girlfriends’ Guide” lets you in on one of life’s big secrets: Having a new baby isn’t always pretty. Writing with a straightforward tone, Vicki Iovine explains why it’s difficult for an educated middle-class woman to have a baby without going insane. Iovine makes uncomfortable topics such as unsightly facial hair growth, stretch marks and an elevated libido fun and informative.

4. ‘Bringing Up Bébé’

There is a tendency to idealize the French. They’re sexier, more passionate and endlessly chic. So when American ex-pat and former Wall Street Journal reporter Pamela Druckerman penned a parenting guide touting the French way of rearing children, I knew I had to read it. Well, let’s be frank: I downloaded the audiobook and listened to the entire thing while chauffeuring my son around town.

My favorite parts include Druckerman’s fascination with perineal re-education (which she lovingly calls “crunches for the crotch”) and the benefits of the state-run day care system. Each day care facility has its own resident chefs who devise balanced menus with dill sauce, soft cheeses and seasonal ingredients such as rhubarb.

My takeaway from the book was that it’s OK for parents to feel overwhelmed. We’re all trying to raise our children to the best of our abilities.

Fortunately, for those of us who have yet to become the perfect mommies and daddies we wish to be, help can be found on a bookshelf – or Kindle.

Contact the writer: Contact the writer at jenn@coastmagazine.com

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