Unplanned Cesarean & Healing Scheduled Cesarean Birth Stories

1st birth: Elise’s husband, Paul, was able to come home from his overseas deployment for ten days. At 41 weeks, Elise went in for a scheduled induction. After 27 hours (three of which included pushing), Ellerie was born via c-section. Recovery was difficult and made harder by the fact that Paul had to leave again when Ellerie was just four days old.

2nd birth: After originally hoping for a VBAC, Elise made the decision to have a scheduled c-section at 40w2d. It was the opposite experience and incredibly healing.

scheduled cesarean

Elise Cripe Bio

Elise Blaha Cripe lives with her husband and two young daughters in San Diego, California. She has been sharing thoughts and DIY projects online since 2005 and is the founder of GET TO WORK BOOK, a day planner brand. In 2019, her book, Big Dreams, Daily Joys about goal-setting was published. Connect with her at elisejoy.com or on Instagram @elisejoy.

Resources

Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding was so helpful with my second daughterMindful Birthing I didn’t get to use much of this but I loved reading it in preparation for both births.

Babylist

The people at Babylist believe that you should be able to get exactly what you need for your unique and growing family. That’s why their baby registry lets you add any item from any store. Even add cool services and favors like prenatal yoga, doula support, home-cooked meals or dog walking. Start your registry today to be eligible for a free Hello Baby Box of goodies for baby worth up to $190 while boxes last.

Type 2 Diabetes, Unmedicated Hospital Birth & Working Postpartum as RN During COVID-19

When A’briel became pregnant with her first child, she was quite surprised as one OBGYN had previously assured her that she’d need fertility treatment in order to conceive. She immediately sought out doula support and started to build a birth team full of strong African American women.

Due to a previous diagnosis of Type II Diabetes, A’briel knew she’d be having a hospital birth at the facility where she worked; but she had always planned to deliver without many interventions and epidural- free.

pitocin birth story

She scheduled herself to work up until 40 weeks, but was in for another huge surprise when she woke up to ruptured membranes on the day she turned 37 weeks. Once at the hospital, A’briel decided to augment labor with Pitocin, and 10 hours after her water had broken, she had her first intense contraction. Contractions would remain stead for the next 4 hours until she gave birth.

At 7 weeks postpartum, A’briel returned to work in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic where she had to juggle a full-time night shift job, single parenthood, and maintaining a breastfeeding relationship, as well as the unknowns & constant changes that COVID would cause at her hospital. 

labor and delivery nurse birth story

A’briel Banks Bio

A’briel lives in Rural Arkansas with her 4 month old daughter, Alivia. She is a doula turner Labor and Delivery Nurse and is gearing up to pursue midwifery. She can be reached on Instagram @naturallybri__

Crate & Kids

This episode of The Birth Hour is sponsored by Crate and Kids. Crate and Kids is all about empowering the self-expression of families through environments that spark creativity and encourage individuality. Their versatile collection celebrates each new stage and helps you design a nursery that’s an extension of your own personal style.

Use code TheBirthHour at checkout to receive 10% off your full-price purchase of Kids furniture and more at crateandkids.com. It’s valid online only, and some exclusions apply, so see their website for details.

Prodromal Labor, Walking Epidural, and Postpartum Anxiety

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Melody and her husband, Brian, were living in San Diego when they decided they wanted to start a family. They chose to move back to Canada to be closer to their families, and they settled in Vancouver. After having trying for a couple of months, Melody found out she was pregnant. She registered with an OBGYN team in Vancouver. Brian was offered a job in Toronto and they decided to take it, as most of their family and friends in Ontario. Melody was working in Vancouver and decided to continue working through her second trimester in order to qualify for maternity and parental leave, so Brian flew back and forth between Toronto and Vancouver during those three months.

In August, at the beginning of her third trimester, Melody flew home to Toronto. She registered with a midwifery practice and never looked back. Her sister gave birth to a baby boy who had to be rushed to SickKids in Toronto due to Coronary Heart Disease that went undiagnosed in pregnancy. He was at SickKids from August until October and Melody spent a lot of time going to the hospital to play with her niece.

This experience sparked anxiety and shaped Melody’s birth plan. She was open to anything, but decided to have a hospital birth, in case anything went wrong. Melody had prodromal labour for 3 weeks before the baby was born. She had two stretch and sweeps – one at 39 weeks and one at 40 weeks.

Finally at 41+2, she went into labor. It was early on a Friday morning and she was in denial over it for most of the day, due to the prodromal labor she’d been getting used to. She took the dog for a walk in the late afternoon and finally decided she was in labor. Her midwife checked her at around 8pm that night and she was at 2.5cm, which was what she had been at during her last stretch and sweep. Contractions were getting very intense and very close together within a couple of hours after her midwife left, and Melody decided she wanted to move to the hospital and get an epidural.

After an interesting ride in a Lyft (that poor man), she was admitted and promptly given a walking epidural at 11:30pm. At 2:30am, her midwife broke her water. At 8:30am, Melody was fully dilated, but her midwife suggested that they wait an hour or so before pushing, to let her body move the baby down on its own.

At 9:30, Melody started pushing, but the baby’s heart rate would go down with every push, so she would push for one contraction and then sway and do deep breathing for two contractions before pushing again. The baby was also stuck coming around the bend, so the midwife brought the OB team in, in case a vacuum assist was required. At this point, about 8 women and Brian were circling Melody, encouraging her to keep pushing, that she could do it without any assistance – it was like having a cheer squad around her.

prodromal labor

At 10:28, their baby was born and immediately brought to Melody’s chest. The midwife asked Brian if it was a boy or a girl and he couldn’t tell because the cord was in the way. So they had to tell him it was a girl. She had a nuchal hand, so the back of her right hand was resting on her cheek, when she was born, which is why she was having difficulty coming out. Melody had a 2nd degree tear that they stitched up. The next couple of hours were peaceful. Melody and Brian chose her name – Lily – and Brian got her dressed. Melody’s dad and sister were both in town so they were able to come to the hospital to meet Lily. Within a couple of hours after the birth, they were home with Lily. 

Postpartum, the first couple of weeks were incredibly difficult. Melody suffered from baby blues in the form of near crippling anxiety. It was terrifying. She spoke with a perinatal psychiatrist – OHIP covers all post-natal therapy for the first year after a baby is born – and also joined a mom group that focused on therapy for anxiety and depression. Luckily, after a few weeks, she started to feel like herself again and things have been looking up every day since then. 

Melody Brownton Bio

Melody lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, Brian, and their 7-month-old daughter, Lily. She was a digital project manager and is hoping to enter into real estate once the world opens up again. She’s also an avid baker. Her instagram handle is @melodybrownton.

Resources

Active Duty Navy Mom Planning Homebirth

Tiara shares her experience being pregnant while serving active duty in the Navy and planning a home birth. For Tiara’s first birth, she planned a home birth instead of birthing in a military installation hospital. The driving force behind this decision was that Tiara had suffered a traumatic sexual assault while serving in the military and she wanted to be in a protected space where she could have some control and be heard.

Although Tiara had thoroughly researched the statistics of birth disparities and maternal moralities among black women, Tiara began to welcome her birthing time confidently because of the wealth of knowledge and support from her amazing midwives and loving husband. After 21 hours of active labor and 10 minutes of pushing, their daughter, Zoe was born February 19 at 11:19am. 

homebirth coping methods

Tiara Perry Bio

Tiara, originally from Cincinnati, enlisted in the U.S. Navy shortly after graduating high school. While stationed in Japan, she met her husband Devaun. After navigating their marriage through Tiara’s various lengthy deployments and finally being on shore duty, they weren’t trying to conceive but found out that they were expecting their first child. Connect with her on Instagram @tiaralashae.p

Britax

Today’s episode is brought to you by Britax Child Safety, Inc. For over 50 years, Britax has been focused on safety you can trust from the very first day. They welcome new moms and dads to parenthood with award-winning car seats and strollers for every lifestyle while providing extra confidence for the journey ahead. At the end of today’s episode, I talk with Britax safety advocate, Sarah Tilton, all about the importance of rear-facing. Learn more about Britax products and safety tips at us.britax.com.

Favorite Tips for Dealing with Nausea & Morning Sickness in Pregnancy

Ok, so let’s talk about queasiness in pregnancy!

Everyone and every pregnancy is different when it comes to upset tummies—some of you might be queasy off and on for a few hours, while others wonder why it isn’t called “all day sickness?!” A lucky 24% of women don’t get this symptom at all and then they might worry why they aren’t having this symptom!

General Tips for Morning Sickness in Pregnancy

Here’s a few ways I’ve found helpful to deal with nausea.

    • Eat smaller meals and snacks more frequently, rather than 3 big meals. Try to eat whole foods but if all you can stomach are some starchy carbs, go with it and hopefully it won’t last more than a few weeks! Potatoes are great for many women.
    • Eat first thing. If mornings are worse for you, keeping snacks (like plain crackers) by your bed to eat first thing in the morning before even getting up can help! Also eating protein before bed that takes longer to digest can help.
    • Don’t let yourself get hungry! Eat before you’re hungry, even if it’s a small snack.
    • Eat mild foods that are more tolerable for your body. Spicy, fatty, or heavy foods may not sit as well, and take longer to digest. I love sandwiching protein in between really bland carbs like a croissant or tortilla.
    • Stay hydrated. Lots of water is vital during the entire pregnancy, but sip it often throughout the day rather than chugging huge amounts at a time. Keep a water bottle nearby at work, in your car, and at your nightstand. Consider adding electrolytes as well.
    • Experiment with your vitamins. Sometimes prenatal vitamins can affect queasiness so pay attention to whether you feel worse after you take yours and experiment with different prenatal vitamins if necessary. Try taking your vitamin right before bed rather than first thing in the morning, and see if it helps.
    • Exercise. It sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes a walk outside can do wonders. Breathing fresh air, enjoying the sunshine and having a good time can help take your mind off of your tummy and lift your nausea.
    • Avoid Stress. I know, it’s easier said than done but aside from hormonal changes, stress/emotions are another potential cause for nausea.
    • Invest in Quality Products:
      • Be sure you’re getting enough B vitamins, particularly B6. If you have the MTHFR mutation, you’ll need a methylated version.
      • Tea: Anything citrus-y or with ginger is great. I love Earth Mama’s Morning Wellness Tea.
      • Sea Bands: many women swear by these and I did have success with them on a road trip when I was extra queasy.
    • Essential oils—these can be a great additional tool in your toolbox when dealing with an unsettled tummy during pregnancy. Read on to learn more!

Two things to consider before using essential oils

Not every oil works the same for everyone

Essential oils are a great supplemental option to your wellness routine during pregnancy and if you’ve suffered from pregnancy induced digestive troubles or “morning sickness” then you know that you are likely willing to try anything to help ease the symptoms. Of course, essential oils are not a replacement for medical care and should be used as a complement to the care you receive from your doctor or midwife. If you are experiencing extreme nausea and vomiting you definitely need to let your care provider know.

Always consult your care provider

During pregnancy, it’s always a good idea to run any concerns by your care provider. You can also seek the advice of an aromatherapist or a midwife or doula that have extensive experience using essential oils with pregnant women.

8 essential oils for queasiness in pregnancy

1. Lemon

Lemon essential oil, like all citrus oils, is very uplifting and really helpful for women suffering from aversions to smell during pregnancy. Simple open a bottle of lemon and take some deep breaths or try using Lemon (and Citrus Fresh) in your water. Young Living’s vitality oils are safe to ingest and just one drop in your water can make a refreshing drink when it’s hard to keep much of anything down. You can also add lemon essential oil to your tea.

2. Lavender

Lavender is the jack of all trades when it comes to essential oils and can be used for SO many things during pregnancy. It’s super relaxing and calming and great for sleep support. It can also be calming to an upset stomach. Create a roller with lavender and apply it directly to your tummy or behind your ears. Lavender is also great to diffuse to bring feelings of relaxation and help you rest when you’re feeling exhausted and queasy. Take some deep breaths or try a guided meditation when using lavender essential oil for more relaxation.

3. Fennel Seed

For hundreds of years Fennel was used for digestive support and for balancing hormones during a woman’s menstrual cycle. So, it makes sense that it would help with hormone-related upset tummy during pregnancy. During my pregnancy, I used a blend from Young Living that contained fennel called Digize. I made a diluted roller and would rub it directly on my abdomen. You can also try a tea with fennel in it or even use the herb in your cooking. If you’re experiencing smell aversions, fennel may be too strong of a smell for you.

4. Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil has so many great uses during pregnancy including helping with smell sensitivities. You can simply open the bottle and sniff it or diffuse it along with a citrus, like lemon or orange. If you are using Young Living’s Peppermint Vitality which is ingestible, you can also apply one drop to your tongue and press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Be sure to avoid contact with your eyes.

Note: Some people choose to avoid peppermint in late pregnancy because it can be used to reduce milk supply but I personally used it up until the end and had an abundant milk supply. Use your best judgment and consult your care provider.

5. Ginger

You’ve probably already heard that ginger helps with upset tummy caused by riding in a car or being on a plane or boat. It’s also great for general stomach discomfort. My mom used to always give me gingerale when I wasn’t feel well as a kid—not sure if it actually helped but it sure felt special in a house where sodas were never allowed. Ginger essential oil is another way you can support any queasy feelings. You can diffuse ginger essential oil, use it in a roller and apply topically to your tummy, or even put Ginger Vitality from Young Living in a capsule and take it when you feel your tummy churning coming on.

6. Digize

Digestion issues are pretty common during pregnancy and Digize, a blend of Tarragon, Ginger, Peppermint, Juniper, Lemongrass, Anise, and Patchouli oils, combines several of the oils we’ve already covered to aid in digestive support. Create a roller with Digize and use it during your first trimester on your tummy when you’re experiencing tummy troubles. You can also use Digize Vitality oil by putting a drop on your finger and applying to the insides of your cheeks. Be sure to eat frequent, small meals to help your tummy settle down as well.

7. Spearmint

Spearmint essential oil is a gentler alternative to peppermint and can be used without concern for affecting your milk supply in late pregnancy. Use it in the same ways you would use peppermint—diffuse, rub behind your ears or under your nose or put a drop on your tongue. Be sure to avoid contact with your eyes.

8. Thieves

Thieves Oil is a popular blend for immune support and when you’re suffering from an unsettled tummy and having trouble keeping down nutritious food, an extra boost for your immune system during pregnancy is never a bad idea. You’ll also want to be sure you’re getting plenty of rest and eating healthy food to support your immune system. Thieves contains Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary. Several of those oils are recommended to use with care and caution during pregnancy.

Also ensure you dilute Thieves and use it in moderation, rather than daily. I like to make 10ml roller with just 10 drops of Thieves essential oil and coconut oil and apply it to the bottoms of your feet or simply open the bottle and inhale. The scent of Thieves is really lovely (reminds me of the holidays) and can be great for smell aversions as well.

2 places to purchase essential oils

Local health store

Most local health stores and even many grocery stores carry essentials oils. Unfortunately, not all essential oils are created equal. The regulation around essential oils is pretty nonexistent so companies can claim to have a 100% pure essential oil when actually it’s packed with synthetics or diluted.

Through Young Living!

I had used several essential oils brands prior to getting pregnant and I didn’t realize the difference in quality between many oils you find on the shelves or online versus Young Living oils. You can tell a difference right away when you smell Young Living essential oils and their Seed to Seal commitment was what really sold me on exclusively using their oils. I actually visited their lavender farm in Utah recently and was blown away!

The best way to get your essential oils through Young Living is by becoming a wholesale member so you can order for yourself, whenever you want at the wholesale discount of 24% off. To become a member all you need to do is purchase a premium starter kit once. It’s a pretty great deal because you get a diffuser and 12 of their most popular oils including many of the ones mentioned here (peppermint, lavender, digize, lemon, and thieves are all included!).

Find out more

If you want to know more about how we are using essential oils in our life, you can check out this post. And if you’re ready to get started using essential oils with Young Living, check out this post on everything you need to know about the Starter Kit.

Cholestatis of Pregnancy (ICP) Induction Birth Story

When Bryn got pregnant with her third child, she planned for another unmedicated birth in a birth center. The plan changed when she was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) at 33 weeks and risked out of the birth center. The following weeks were filled with confusion and frustration as she switched to an OB practice and tried to gather as much information on ICP as she could. She was induced at 37 weeks, and her body ended up producing contractions on its own after minimal interventions. Although it was not what she pictured, Bryn was able to have a redemptive unmedicated birth. 

Bryn was induced at 37 weeks for ICP. When she was admitted that morning at 6am, her cervix was closed, high and thick. At 9:30am, she was given one dose of cytotec, which gave her contractions that were a minute apart, though not painful. That dilated her to a 2, so they inserted a foley balloon at 1:30pm. Bryn got very lucky, and the resident allowed her to have 45 minutes off the monitor, 15 minutes on instead of continuous fetal monitoring. She was the first person her nurse had ever seen walk the halls with a foley in!

Only 2 hours later, the foley balloon fell out and she was dilated to a 6. The foley balloon allowed Bryn’s body to start contracting on its own, so it was decided she would not need Pitocin. With Bryn’s first two labors, her body stopped dilating (at 8 and 7 cm) and did not enter transition until her water was manually broken. This labor was no different, and when they checked her 4 hours later, she was still at a 6. Afraid of being in more pain and of a prolapsed cord, she did not consent to getting her water broken at that time, but continued to walk around and cope in the shower.

Bryn came close to getting an epidural at this point, but thanks to her doula and a nurse who had had unmedicated births herself, she was able to continue with her desired plan. At 9:30pm, they checked her again and she was still at a 6. Bryn chose to get a dose of fentanyl and have her water manually broken. Two contractions later, she was in transition. She had the urge to push at 10:20pm, and Israel was born just 4 minutes later! 

Bryn Koger Bio

Bryn lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and 3 kids, Elias (5), Eden (3), and Israel (7 weeks). She is a stay-at-home mom, but also is trained as a doula and occasionally attends births. 

Resources

ICP Care

Babylist

The people at Babylist believe that you should be able to get exactly what you need for your unique and growing family. That’s why their baby registry lets you add any item from any store. Even add cool services and favors like prenatal yoga, doula support, home-cooked meals or dog walking. Start your registry today to be eligible for a free Hello Baby Box of goodies for baby worth up to $190 while boxes last.

TTC, Hospital Induction Laboring with & without Epidural

Getting Pregnant and Planning Hospital Birth

After 2.5 years of trying as well as a miscarriage in 2018, Susanna and Will found out they were pregnant with their rainbow baby in February 2019. They learned halfway through the pregnancy that Susanna would be induced due to high blood pressure. She went in at 39 weeks to be induced, hoping to avoid pain medications.

Things moved quite slowly and Susanna experienced very intense back labor due to her daughter being sunny side up. Thankfully, her mom and husband were both there to help support her through labor. They were invaluable! She spent a lot of time on the yoga ball and in the shower to help manage the pain.  After about 24 hours of labor, her water broke and she was ready to ask for an epidural. Thankfully after a successful epidural her body was able to relax and fully dilate over the next 8 hours.

The baby turned over into a normal birthing position and after pushing for less than an hour, Will and Susanna welcomed their beautiful daughter Dahlia into the world. Following the birth, Dahlia had moderate jaundice which was carefully monitored each day with bloodwork. Within a week that cleared up and she is a healthy happy baby!

Susanna Birdwell Bio

Will and Susanna live in the Tampa Bay area of Florida with their daughter Dahlia who is almost 7 months old. Susanna is a 5th grade teacher and Will is a paramedic who is also currently in firefighter school. Susanna is passionate about education, essential oils,toxin free living, and holistic health. Will enjoys music, strategy games, and shooting sports. They love spending time with friends and family, trying local restaurants, and cooking. Connect with her on Instagram @myketoteacherlife or via email at susanna.birdwell@gmail.com.

Resources

Crate & Kids

Today’s episode was sponsored by Crate and Kids. Crate and Kids is all about empowering the self-expression of families through environments that spark creativity and encourage individuality. Their versatile collection celebrates each new stage and helps you design a nursery that’s an extension of your own personal style.

Use code TheBirthHour at checkout to receive 10% off your full-price purchase of Kids furniture and more at crateandkids.com. It’s valid online only, and some exclusions apply, so see their website for details.

Giving Birth During COVID19 with Virtual Doula Support

Liz moved to a new city just outside of NYC right before the Coronavirus outbreak really set it. It turned out that her new city, New Rochelle, was a hotspot for COVID19 and quickly earned the label of “containment zone.” Liz struggled through the end of her pregnancy with concerns about her husband not being allowed at her baby’s birth and with her being separated from their baby for 14 days if she tested positive for COVID19. Thankfully, neither of those things happened and Liz gave birth with the help of her doula virtually through FaceTime. Read more about her experience being pregnant in a containment zone at the beginning of the outbreak here.

virtual doula covid19

Liz Teich Bio

Liz is a New York based fashion stylist, lifestyle blogger, on-air style expert, and mom of two. Liz has been a professional commercial stylist for over a decade, styling fashion and home goods for print and digital advertising campaigns for major brands and retailers including Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Alex and Ani, Timberland, and Talbots. Through the campaigns she’s worked on she’s styled celebrities including Mike Tyson, Ashley Graham, and the cast of Stranger Things.

She has appeared as an on-camera style expert in campaigns for Magaschoni, Rent The Runway and White House Black Market, as well as a regular style & lifestyle expert for Fox5 New York. Liz has also appeared in, shared her style and lifestyle advice / written for Glamour Magazine, WomensHealth.com, BigCityMoms.com, AM New York, Mother.ly and Parents.

Styling bloggers for the TJMaxx “Maxxinista” campaign led Liz to launch her own blog and brand called The New York Stylist where she helps others live stylishly, covering fashion, motherhood, family, fitness, travel, beauty, home decor, and of course all things New York. Through her site, she has partnered with major brands including Rent The Runway, M.M. LaFleur, Aveda, Cybex, and Pampers to share some of her favorite products, services and styles.

After becoming a mom, Liz received many inquiries from moms around the country asking for help with their wardrobe. This led her to expand her business by incorporating personal styling to help moms learn how to dress for their new bodies and lifestyle while working with much of what they already have, and providing a focused approach to filling in what they may be missing.

Through her popular service “The Closet Cleanse”—whether in someone’s home or virtually—Liz has helped women achieve a well edited closet and clients tell her they’re saving money in the long run thanks to her expertise. One client remarked, “She really helped transform and declutter my post baby wardrobe. She’s like the gift that keeps on giving.”

You can find Liz on Instagram at @thenewyorkstylist and on her blog thenewyorkstylist.com

Kindred Bravely

Today’s episode is brought to you by Kindred Bravely.  From adorable maternity wear to comfortable nursing bras, this mom-owned company has you covered.  See all of their comfy clothing at kindredbravely.com! I especially love their Simply Sublime nursing tank, their high waisted leggings (for pregnancy AND postpartum), the comfy Jane pajamas, and their high waisted underwear! Listen to this episode for a special coupon code!

Unmedicated Hospital Birth & Struggling Postpartum

Naria and her husband, Luther, received unexpected news of their first pregnancy in January 2019. Though unexpected, years of being exposed to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences through family and education had prepared Naria to make informed decisions about the birth experience she wanted. Alongside her husband, nurse-midwife, doula, and mother, Naria was able to experience the unmedicated vaginal birth she wanted as she welcomed her baby girl Samaria Eve Menard. During her postpartum period, Naria struggled greatly with baby blues and with her adequacy as a mother. The words of wisdom from her doula sustained her during her time of transition into motherhood: ‘Surrender to the process’.

Naria Josefina Menard Bio

Naria was born and raised in NYC to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. Her ethnicity as an Afro-Latina played a huge role in her upbringing and how she views the world around her. These cultural ideals shaped her decisions on her pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum experiences. She currently resides with her husband of almost four years and her beautiful 7-month-old daughter in South Florida. There, Naria serves as a teacher to 9th grade students while also working on completing her doula certification in hopes to be a voice for women of color in the birthing world and to further educate women of color on pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. You can connect with Naria on Instagram @mamanarnar30 and on Facebook at ‘Naria Josefina Menard’.

Naria Josefina Menard

Resources

Battling Over Birth- Black Women and the Maternal Health Crisis.

Find a black midwife or doula – Sista Midwife

Anti-Racist Books for Babies & Toddlers

If you’re wondering if it’s “too early” to introduce your kids to anti-racism, studies show kids notice race as early as preschool. And studies have shown parents’ silence on racism actually reinforces it

Unfortunately, according to a study just last year, 60% of parents rarely or never discuss race/ethnicity or social class with their children. 

Because books are a great place to start, our friends at LittleFeminist.com (a monthly diverse book club subscription) helped us curate a book list of anti-racist books for babies & toddlers. 

Here are 7 often-hard-to-find book categories that are as important as ever to make sure are represented on your family’s book shelf.

We have included amazon links for your convenience but encourage you to shop at these Black-owned book stores if you’re able. @blackpearlbooks @esowonbooks @mahoganybooks @braveandkindbooks @harrietts_bookshop @thelitbar @hakimsbookstore @semicolonchi

Read books about racism with your kids

  • Anti-Racist Baby (board book) – written by Ibram X. Kendi, a best selling anti-racist author and founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, we are SO thrilled he wrote this must-have board book. 
  • Not My Idea (picture book) – written for white families to challenge their white privilege, there is no other children’s book like this, and it’s a must-read. Right now digital copies are being offered for FREE

Read books about Black rights & activism 

  • The Undefeated (picture book) – stunning poetry and illustrations highlight Black history and Black futures in this award-winning book. Understanding Black history is essential to understanding American history, and this book serves as a great tool for acknowledging and celebrating the contributions of African Americans. 
  • Let the Children March (picture book) – there are a handful of books written about the thousands of African American children that protested (and got assaulted…and arrested) in 1963 inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This one is our favorite. 

Read books that celebrate racial diversity 

  • Littles and How They Grow (board book) – this story lists the sweet and abundant ways we give love to our children. Black illustrator AG Ford beautifully depicts families across race, gender, and age spectrums. 
  • We Are Little Feminists: Hair (board book) – Little Feminist wrote this book specifically for families to talk about celebrating race & ethnicity at home. Photos of real families is accompanied by playful rhyming text that will make this a book your kids keep reaching for. Sold as a set of 3 on Amazon. Can be purchased separately on LittleFeminist.com/giftshop.

Read biographies of people of color, beyond athletes and musicians

  • Think Big, Little One (board book) – Black author & illustrator Vashti Harrison (we love her so much) shines light on powerful women of color. Her simple introductions to visionaries from around the globe prove educational to adults and children alike. 
  • Mae Among the Stars (picture book) – inspired by Mae Jemison, the first Black American to travel to space, this book encourages everyone to reach for the stars. Make sure to talk about racism with your kids when Mae’s white teacher discourages her dreams.

Enjoy fun fiction board books by Black authors about Black characters

  • Calling Dr. Zaza (board book) – your family is going to fall in love with Zaza, and (SCORE!) it’s a series. Showcase a strong, spunky, Black girl on your bookshelf! We picked this book to highlight because Zaza plays doctor in this story, and it leads to lots of fun imaginary play at home. 
  • Baby Goes to Market (board book) – the routine task of grocery shopping becomes a colorful adventure filled with joy, and delicious treats! Enjoy counting along as Baby and Mama work their way through a bustling West African market together.
  • Baby Says (board book) – a board book remake of a classic, we love this tender sibling relationship filled with small annoyances and big love. 

Read books about being bullied for being different

  • Sulwe (picture book) – a gorgeous tale about loving ALL of ourselves by Academy Award winner Lupita Nyongo. 
  • The Proudest Blue (picture book) – Hijabi gold-medal Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad brings authenticity to her own story of wearing a hijab at school. A powerful reminder that something as simple as showing up in the world observing your faith and heritage requires incredible bravery. 

Feature board books celebrating (and by) Indigenous Peoples

  • My Heart Fills with Happiness (board book) – with beautiful scenes reflecting Indigenous cultures, this book celebrates the simple joys of life.
  • May We Have Enough to Share (board book) – gorgeous photos all taken by Indigenous female photographers capture the spirit of gratitude. 

Read books celebrating all family structures & genders

We Are Little Feminists: Families (board book) – with photos of real families and rhyming text, this board book showcases different families with one thing in common: love. Let your kiddos wonder about gender pronouns and expressions as they observe the people on each page.

Love Makes a Family (board book) – beautiful metaphors highlight the emotional love and labor caregivers pour into families. We love the diverse family constellations which even highlight singlet parents and elder caregivers. 

Introducing Teddy (picture book) – we love how this book features gender identity and expression – it’s accessible to the toddlers and so heartwarming! Teddy and his friends show us what it looks like to be loved and accepted exactly as we are, regardless of gender, appearance or our favorite hobbies. 

Books that celebrate all bodies and abilities

  • Lovely (picture book) – there are so many bodies and intersecting identities celebrated in this book, every time we read it we discover something new we love. Jess Hong uses sparse words like ‘black’ and ‘white’ and ‘fancy’ and ‘sporty’ to highlight how all of our bodies are lovely. We love how the illustrations challenge our expectations!
  • We Are Little Feminists: On-the-Go (board book) – where are all the books featuring characters with disabilities as more than someone to pity or save? We have NO idea! So we published this book to feature as many kids with disabilities as possible moving in all sorts of ways.

This guest post was written by Brittany Murlas from Little Feminist Book Club. Hungry for more? Or want our help curating the best picks for your family? Join Little Feminist book club. Use code THEBIRTHHOUR for 15% off any Little Feminist subscription.