Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book on NetGallery. The copy on NetGallery has now expired. I have not benefited from this review in anyway, except that I got to read a book before it was published, which is pretty cool!
When I was pregnant with my fourth child, I remarked that I wished someone would write about pregnancy and childbirth for mothers who had multiple children. My favorite books about pregnancy did not address the needs of a mother who was pregnant with her fourth child in less than five years: caring for older multiple older children, balancing their needs, housework and the daily task of growing a whole new human being!
Thankfully, someone has finally written that much-needed book! I found Sarah A Reinhard's book, A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism, an easy but delightful read. There was just enough information about the development of an unborn baby to give me a good overview of pregnancy without it turning into "just another" pregnancy book. I found her reflections on Mary thought provoking and made The Blessed Virgin seem much more human, real and personable to me. I especially enjoyed her musings on whether Mary felt morning sickness as she was journeying to see Elizabeth and the story behind Our Lady of La Leche.
Sprinkled throughout the books are essays from other Catholic writers such as Kate Wicker and Jane Lebak. I really enjoyed reading the essays and it was nice to hear the perspective of other Catholic women about the ups and downs of being pregnant.
I loved the overall tone of the book. One thing I really appreciated was the fact that Reinhart admits pregnancy isn't all sunshine and rainbows. She freely and openly admits to the aches and pains of growing a baby but doesn't dwell on it. She offers practical tips for dealing with these common pregnancy side effects. I sometimes feel that pregnancy books, especially ones with a religious bent, either dismiss the physical and emotional hardships of pregnancy or make a mother feel "less than" for not fully enjoying even single moment of pregnancy. It is refreshing to have these complaints realized and new tips and tricks for dealing with them.
As someone who has suffered from pregnancy depression, along with Post Par tum Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I was relieved and thankful to see this issue addressed! I was pleased to see both medical (ie, medications) and spiritual (ie, praying) suggestions for relief. In this topic, as with the others covered in the book, the author maintained a loving and non-judgmental attitude.
The final chapters of the book are devoted to labor, delivery and baptism. I wish the baptism chapters had been around when I had my first child! It would have been a great help to me and offered a great "baptism prep" to go with the class we had to take at church. Even though I have baptised four babies, the information would still be useful if we were to have a fifth.
Overall, this is a fantastic book and would make a lovely gift for yourself or another expectant mother!