Review by MICHAEL FREDERICKS
PREGNANCY & BIRTH: THE ESSENTIAL CHECKLISTS
By Karen Sullivan
Publisher: DK Publishing
WHAT do you do if the pregnancy test is positive? How do you ensure that your baby grows healthily? What medications are safe for you to take during your pregnancy? How do you cope with the symptoms of pregnancy? What purchases do you have to make?
These are just some of the questions answered in this little gem of a book, but what separates Pregnancy and Birth: The Essential Checklists from most parenting books you'll find on bookstore shelves is the way it presents its facts.
It uses lists. Yes, that ubiquitous, bullet-pointed, easy-to-read content that everybody creates – from kids to mUms to Forbes magazine – to aid parents in one way or another.
Here, London-based author Karen Sullivan uses the format to be as straightforward and comprehensive as possible, all while making the material accessible and reassuring, with the aid of images and information boxes. This is especially true for soon-to-be mums and dads, although that’s not to say it can’t act as a guide for couples who have already experienced the highs and lows of pregnancy and birth.
Covering everything from the moment the test comes up positive, up till your baby's first birthday, the book is replete with simple steps, factoids, tips, advice and reminders to help you and your partner anticipate, well, everything.
Sullivan, a childcare expert who has written numerous books on pregnancy and raising children, doesn't skip a beat here. She alerts you on what you ought to prepare, what to buy, what to ask, what to do, and when to do it, using 80 comprehensive lists to do so.
Essentially, the book is divided into three stages, spread out into 11 chapters. The first focuses on the pregnancy, the second, on the birth, and the final section on your baby as marked by her developmental milestones (0-3, 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12 months).
You’ll learn the very basics, such as what to eat, what to wear, how to budget for a baby, how to bathe your baby, and ways to baby-proof your home. You’ll also learn how to cope with the changes, as it provides tips on travelling during pregnancy, dealing with sleep problems, and going back to work as a working mum, among other things.
For the big day, it suggests a birth plan (although, as Sullivan points out, very few labours go according to plan) in which you underline the different aspects of your care during labour and the baby’s birth.
It lays out the options and choices that are available to you to help you create this plan. For example, under pain-relief options, it lists TENS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcutaneous_electrical_nerve_stimulation), gas and air, pain-killing injections, and epidural anaesthesia.
Highly practical, the book also offers suggestions on what you ought to put in your hospital bag, your baby’s hospital bag, your baby’s change bag and your travel bag.
What really caught my eye is the fact that the book, as small as it is, also made allowances for the father, or rather “birth partner”. It provides a checklist for him too, and tips on how to encourage the bond between the child and dad.
What Sullivan has done here with Pregnancy and Birth: The Essential Checklists is essentially made it a whole lot easier for parents to organise their way through the entire period from pregnancy, to the first year of baby’s life.
There are some tips and suggestions that are not quite relevant for the local context, but these are few and far between.
Naturally, it has to be said, there is no one formula that fits all pregnancies, births and parenting methods, but Sullivan has certainly found a formula that eases this daunting but most rewarding journey.