While I love to read, as any one who knows me will agree, I am not much of a how-to book fan. I prefer to get such information online, where it is usually more current and contains helpful testimonials of other people's real-life experiences, not to mention the opportunity to communicate with them. I am also an avid researcher, usually reading reviews of a product or book before purchasing it.
When I was pregnant, I was the only person I knew who did not buy or read what is recently considered the ultimate pregnancy bible. Reviews of this book said it was too technical and tended to scare parents-to-be by detailing all the possible ailments and problems that could crop up in the course of a pregnancy. I signed up for an online weekly pregnancy newsletter towards the end of my first trimester, and this combined with my prenatal checkups seemed to be enough.
A friend gifted me with a slim volume on pregnancy and the homeopathic alternatives for dealing things like morning sickness and the like, and I found it very informative, especially since I firmly believe in natural medicine, particularly when one is pregnant. I also found a book on breast-feeding at a used bookshop, and purchased this as I hoped to do what my two sisters had failed to with their eldest children and breastfeed purely for at least six months. This book contained plenty of testimonials, but in the end I found that real-life experience was my best teacher.
At a baby shower, another book was given to me, and I read this anxiously as my due date drew near and I realized I did not know how to deal with crying, burping, bathing and all the rest of it.
Once Little A was born, I found little time for reading between monthly visits to the pediatrician, endless nappy changing, colic, crawling, walking and feeding. We had one book, given as a present at Little A's christening, and I did refer to it from time to time to be sure he was on track in terms of growth and development. Lately, I've acquired a couple more books to help get him sleeping through the night and toilet trained. This small collection completes our baby and toddler reference guides.
However, as with all things baby-related, the books will be outgrown as Little A gets older. I've already passed on the natural pregnancy and breast-feeding books to one mum-to-be and the book covering baby basics to another new mum friend. The sleep book will soon be mailed out to another parent in need, and the toilet training book still has to prove its worth. As every mum and dad discovers, the art of parenting cannot be learned from a book but must be experienced in the light of each parent and child's uniqueness.