During one of my early visits with my ob, I asked her for a recommendation for a good pregnancy book to read. She told me about Body, Soul and Baby by Dr. Tracy Gaudet, the former director of Duke Center for Integrative Medicine. I've read a dozen pregnancy books since then and this is still the best one.
Perhaps from the title you can tell that _Baby Body and Soul_ is a different sort of pregnancy preparedness book. The emphasis isn't "just the facts" although there are plenty of those. And its' focus isn't "touchy feely" or overtly spiritual although those factors are also present. Gaudet talks about the book as a guide to becoming aware of the transformation that a pregnant woman is undergoing. Not only physical but also emotional and spiritual. _Baby Body and Soul_ urges the reader to look at her whole person. Gaudet argues that by examining all aspects of ourselves (emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc) we will take care ourselves in a way that nourishes us authentically, from within and not in a perfunctory, automatic way. The difference between these approaches can be explained this way. Consider the woman who gets to know herself during her pregnancy, pays attention to what her body is saying, and what her emotional self needs vs. the woman who goes into autopilot when pregnant, dutifully taking prenatal vitamins and going to her doc visits. Both may start out feeling overwhelmed, surprised, etc. but one takes the time & energy to explore those feelings while the other sort of hopes they go away with time.
Early on in my pregnancy, I felt alone and scared. I didn't know any other "older" pregnant women and we decided we wouldn't tell anyone that we were pregnant until we were well out of our first trimester. Other than our conversation, there wasn't much connecting my pregnancy to reality. As a result, I felt unattached to the baby. _Baby Body and Soul_ is full of exercises that are designed to connect you to your baby, even if it feels unsafe or scary. In Chapter 3, "Ten Tools for Tuning In", Gaudet talks about "dialoging" and "baby quick pics". It was with the help of these tools that I first connected with our daughter. This was a huge turning point in my pregnancy, from an emotional perspective. Suddenly, she was real. With these exercises, I begin to see the baby as a warm, yellow sun (before we knew her sex). From that point, until her delivery I called her "Little Sun".
There are only two gaps to this book in my mind. The first is that it hasn't been updated since it's publication in 2007. The information is still timely and relevant but best practices in prenatal care change all the time so it would be wonderful to have a new edition. The second is that for all its holistic approach, there is no mention (that I can recall) of how past trauma like sexual abuse or domestic violence can affect not only the choices that a pregnant woman makes but also how she does "pay attention" (Gaudet's language in the introduction) during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. As an educator and speaker about how issues like DV and SA affect a pregnant woman, this is a huge miss in my mind. That said, it likely wouldn't be a miss for others and non-survivors.
If you're the kind of pregnant woman who wants facts but also a little more in terms of emotional exploration and building connection to this new small life, _Baby Body and Soul_ might be a good choice for you. _Baby Body and Soul_urges you to slow down, take the time to feel what you're feeling and then make decisions based on those internal matrixes. It's not a Thanksgiving meal to be stuffed on; it's more of a dessert tasting menu at your favorite cafe which encourages you to savor and taste deeply.
Outside The Mom Box rating: 5 stars out of 5
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