Emma Cannon is a well-known complementary therapist, whose holistic approach to health, conception and pregnancy makes You and Your Bump a pleasure to read.

If your experience of healthcare has never strayed from mainstream, Western medicine, do not be nervous about the alternative ideas in Cannon’s text. She views them as complementary to rather than replacements for what your doctors and midwives may advise. For those who are new to Chinese medicine, she begins with a comprehensive overview of its central theories. There is no “hard sell” here – the ideas are set out in a matter of fact way that the reader is invited to consider. So if you want to delve into Chinese medicine in a thorough way, there is plenty here to give you a good grounding. On the other hand, if you only have a passing interest, you will not feel brainwashed by this book.

The most important message about Emma Cannon’s approach is that your attitude to conception, pregnancy and the birth of a healthy baby should begin with a healthy woman. To Cannon, a healthy woman is in good shape physically, fuelled by a balanced diet and backed up with a positive mind.

While some pregnancy books can come across as one long lecture, Cannon imparts the advice and information she has to offer with grace and good humour. The text is softened in many places where she even laughs at herself (by joking, for example, that her readers may have noticed that she is so fond of chicken soup that she could write a book about that subject alone).

The “preparing to make a baby” section concentrates on your menstrual cycle, and takes you through the thirty or so days describing what foods are the best for maximising your chances of conception. There are some pieces of advice here aimed at men, but the reality is that this book is so woman centred that her tips are more likely to be read or pointed out to would be fathers than by male readers.

Despite regular medical insights and technical pieces of knowledge, what is really refreshing about this book is how down to earth it can be. At the beginning of the “Pregnancy” section Cannon reminds her reader that pregnancy should not be a time for panic, as we are all products of it! Likewise, towards the end of the book, she invites women to listen to their own instincts about motherhood rather than automatically following whatever their friends or relatives tell them should be done.

After the birth section comes some advice on “doing the month”. This is where Cannon urges women to fight the misconception we are pedalled by celebrities in skimpy outfits days after their birth that you should “bounce back” immediately to your pre-pregnancy shape (physically and mentally). Instead, argues Cannon, we should rest and recover and use the first month of our baby’s life to get to know her in peace.

If there is any criticism of this book, it would have to be that the title is slightly misleading. You and your bump implies that the story here starts with pregnancy, but the book is much more than that. Emma Cannon offers a comprehensive 360 degree health check before couples try to conceive, and provides much more than basic information about how your growing baby develops.

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