Baby number two arrived just before Christmas, so well may you ask ‘Melanie how do you have time to blog’? Indeed I don’t. The only way to get these few words down for a review of two midwifey books – Clemmie Hooper‘s How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out: A Guide to Pregnancy and Birth Straight from the Midwife’s Mouth and Emma Cook’s A Midwife in My Pocket: Pregnancy, Birth, and Life With a New Baby, Told As It Really Is – is to send the big kid off to swimming with the dad and snatch some time while the little one is asleep. The floors will remain dirty, the dinner uncooked, the surfaces disrespected. Of course, the alternative option to all this is hire a nanny so you can blog but haaaaaaa, maternity leave/unemployment budget.
These two new books about pregnancy and birth coincidentally came across my path just I was about to give birth for the second time. I read as much of Emma Cook’s A Midwife in My Pocket before the labour and Clemmie’s book has just arrived, so I gave it the post-trauma run through*.
I’ve never met Poole Hospital’s Emma Cook, but she was named mentor of the year in the annual Royal College of Midwives’ awards in 2014, so that’s pretty high praise from people who know.
Clemmie Hooper was part of the famous The Lanes midwives, the community midwives in my local neighbourhood who delivered my son at Kings College Hospital in Denmark Hill. As the team-mate of the midwife who delivered my first baby, she delivered me a much-needed hug after the birth and is deservedly renowned for her caring, light-hearted but informed manner. Clemmie is the switched-on midwife for modern mothers to be, a caring funny midwife with a killer bob and immaculate nails. She has a hugely popular Instagram account, Mother of Daughters, and a great blog, Gas and Air blog, full of birth stories.
The two books are quite different, and will suit people with different needs in the lead up to birth.
Clemmie Hooper is one of the most stylish midwives you’ll meet, and How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out is beautifully designed and would make a lovely gift for a switched-on mum-to-be. It includes plenty of lifestyle tips like Clemmie’s must-haves for your hospital bag, useful nutrition tips and recipes alongside all the expert insights you hope for from a midwife with 10 years’ experience.
The size of your baby is measured with beautiful, relatable illustrations of fruit and veg – like a strawberry for 10 weeks – and the often awkward diagrams of your inner workings are also prettily presented.
The book includes all the hard info you need to prepare yourself for the making and birthing of your babe, with a full rundown of the questions your should ask your midwife, what you might want from your place of birth, what to expect from each scan and what can happen to you and your relationship afterwards.
Clemmie is a woman after my own heart and recommends treating yourself to creature comforts to make your journey to motherhood more pleasant – some nice comfy clothes to lounge in, some quality lip balm for when you’re breathing hard during labour and a few treats for post-birth.
I love this book as a gift for an pregnant friend, and I would definitely buy it if I was expecting again.
Read an earlier interview with Clemmie Hooper here.
Emma Cook’s A Midwife in My Pocket in contrast is more a user-manual for mums about to go through the NHS midwife-focused system. It doesn’t feature pretty design, in fact has some pretty challenging clip art in there, but thoroughly runs through what your interaction will be with a midwife through your pregnancy, birth and afterwards. I’d expect to see this book in a doctor’s surgery or Sure Start centre, rather than in a hamper of mum-to-be gifts.
Cook has been a midwife since 1999, and her book is full of lists to guide you through your interactions with the NHS during your pregnancy, birth and afterwards. There’s almost no scenario she hasn’t covered. Cook says she is there to “hold your hand as long as is needed then take great pride in the fact that all of a sudden you don’t need me” and that’s exactly what she delivers – 18 years of knowledge into one slim volume.
There is so much information in this book, it could actually do with some more severe editing an organising, as I found it a little dense. That said the author does her best to organise all the info on talking to midwives, patterns of care, labour, shopping for baby bits and more into top tips, “did you know?” sections and easy to read checklists. In fact there’s a checklist at the end of each chapter like what to do in the first week at home with your baby, solutions to common worries and snacks and home comforts to have on hand at home.
*other types of birth are available.