Note #1: My original review of Yoga Mama Yoga Baby was written for San Francisco Book Review and appears on their website. I have expanded that review for this post.
Note #2: The opinions in this post are just that: my own opinions, for better or for worse. No one paid me to write any of this.
Prenatal yoga has become a very popular practice in recent years, and with good reason. Practicing yoga postures helps moms-to-be stretch, get gentle exercise, and prepare for labor. I have many friends who practiced yoga while pregnant and swear by it, and I was rather dependent on my yoga DVDs toward the end of my own pregnancy. But yoga, and its complimentary science Ayurveda, have so much more to offer!
Enter Yoga Mama Yoga Baby, in which author Margo Bachman helps expectant readers to further integrate these practices into their lives. For those who know little to nothing about it (like me), Bachman offers readers an introductory course in the science of Ayurveda, which can be translated to mean "the science/knowledge of life/longevity." She provides basic self-assessments to determine your type, along with guidelines that can help you to subtly alter your diet to be more effective for your particular body type. Whether vata, pitta, or kapha, or some combination of more than one, you will find dietary advice that will help you feel more balanced. (Note that it's just that - advice; Bachman emphasizes that those who are uncertain of anything presented in the book should consult with a qualified health care provider.)
The heart of the book is a month-by-month breakdown of your pregnancy. There are brief chapters on each trimester, with very basic information on your baby's development, your own physical changes, and how your emotions might be reacting to pregnancy at this point. There are also chapters devoted to each month of your pregnancy. Each chapter has a theme of sorts, and begins with Bachman's thoughts on that particular idea (such as protection, nurturing, and opening the heart). Readers will enjoy the journaling exercises, which delve deeper into the chapter's theme. Each chapter also presents ideas for appropriate asana practice, breathing techniques, guided meditations, and chants."The holistic diet and lifestyle recommendations of yoga and Ayurveda begin with understanding your unique constitution and how to live in harmony with it. Self-knowledge and self-care are central principles of Ayurveda and are key to real, deep, and lasting healing and health."
There is also a chapter on labor and birth: asanas, marma points (pressure points), aromatherapy, and more. This book is not a definitive source of tools to help get you through labor, but there are definitely some great ideas here that some readers may not have otherwise considered!
Bachman delves briefly into the postpartum period as well. She has advice for getting through those first few months, suggestions for writing your own birth story, and, of course, Ayurveda guidelines for postpartum diet. There are recipes here for making your own herbal sitz bath, something that I know I found very soothing when I was recovering from birth! She also offers a blend to make your own postpartum tea, which will definitely appeal to many. My son is 2 years old now, and I still periodically drink my (store-bought) postpartum tea. There are basic guidelines for baby massage and a gentle asana practice, complete with pictures, to help you adjust to your new role.
And then there are the appendices, which readers will surely find themselves thumbing through again and again. There are natural, gentle remedies for the discomforts of pregnancy (including some that I have not seen suggested in any of my other pregnancy books) and a simple set of food guidelines. There is an appendix full of delicious-sounding recipes, not to mention others scattered throughout the rest of the book. There is an extensive list of herbs that pregnant women should avoid and basic tutorials for the use of essential oils."Your adjustment period will last as long as it needs to for your particular family. Accepting this uniqueness is a key piece of your recuperation."
I feel that there are sections in this book that will appeal to anyone interested in a mindful pregnancy, no matter what prior experience you have (or don't have) with yoga and Ayurveda. This book probably won't appeal to everyone, but there is definitely a growing audience for it.