Alicia Silverstone’s first foray into publishing, the informative and delicious lifestyle cookbook TheKind Life, was an instant hit -- and for good reason. Those looking for motivation to explore a healthy, plant-based lifestyle were given dozens of compelling examples and even seasoned vegans found the recipes to be yummy, nutritious, and creative. Her follow-up, The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant, Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning, seems a natural progression, stemming from the birth of her son Bear Blu in 2011. Proving she’s anything but clueless, Silverstone’s The Kind Mama is empowering and extremely well-researched, yet still approachable. Silverstone writes, “It’s the book I wish I had read when I was pregnant with my little man,”... and I heartily agree. Nothing as comprehensive as this has existed for those looking beyond the "mainstream" birthing and child-rearing approach, covering the period from pre-pregnancy through the first six months of baby's life and touching on topics such as nutrition for mom and baby, decisions about circumcisions and trying elimination communication instead of diapers, and even ways dads can help support the new family unit. The Kind Mama also contains, in addition to over 30 food recipes, recipes for massage oils, belly balms, and other homeopathic advice for mamas-to-be and for healing post-delivery. Read on for more details about this entertaining and informative tome.
Based on the idea that all phases of mamahood (conceiving a baby, being pregnant, having a minimally-interventional birth, and being present and attentive to your baby’s needs) are natural, logical, and intuitive, The Kind Mama points out humorously as well as truthfully that the kind approach is the one that existed for thousands of years. It’s only been in the past one hundred or so years that all of these areas became so complicated and often medical. Silverstone details how our lifestyle and our diet in particular affects our bodies and our babies, and how it is critical to live cleanly and healthfully. Unlike many books in which living healthfully sounds, well, kind of boring and like a punishment, Alicia Silverstone makes it seem like a vegan party everyone would want to join!
RELATED | Alicia Silverstone Starts Kind Mama Milk Share, a Breast Milk Share for Vegan Moms & Babies
The Kind Mama is divided into four parts: pre-pregnancy prep, a trimester-by-trimester guide of growing your baby, breastfeeding and other beginning baby info, and finally a guide to making kind parenting decisions (such as the family bed) in the first six months. Each part is so packed with info, even if you have already missed one of the stages of this book, you would still benefit greatly from reading up on the rest. Even if you are thinking about having your second or third child, I would still recommend this book. The Kind Mama is definitely dense, but with an entertaining tone that makes you keep reading. The Kind Life made you feel like you were hanging out with a girlfriend and it strikes a similar conversational vibe so the info feels digestible.
Silverstone’s Point of View
Silverstone’s personal experience is invaluable here: she honestly describes her struggles including nausea during pregnancy, a birth story that did not go as seamlessly as planned, and her fatigue as a new parent. She is relatable and approachable, and her approach towards parenting seems reasonable and not crazy (whether discussing placenta pills or even the infamous baby-eating-from-her-mouth video). So much of her advice, like natural ways to get an in-utero baby to switch positions, is so easy there’s no downside to trying it even if you do end up going a more medical or mainstream route.
Silverstone’s beliefs and choices are all laid out in the book, but unlike many other “celebrity” authors, she does a good job presenting other, differing options for the most part. For example, in the section detailing common post-delivery tests and medications such as the Vitamin K injection and the newborn hearing test, Silverstone gives her own take as well as the background and advice from an integrative pediatrician. In fact, throughout the book, Silverstone offers a variety of viewpoints-her own, quotes from other Kind Mamas, macrobiotic counselors, dietitians, integrative physicians, and even an Ayurvedic specialist and OB/GYN. Of course there are some suggestions (such as cutting back work hours while pregnant and hiring people to cook healthy food for you so you can concentrate on the first few weeks of being with your baby) that are probably easier for a famous actress than for the average person (especially the average person who has additional children to care for), but I appreciate the way Silverstone advocates against the “I Can Do It All” superwoman attitude that our society has come to pride itself on. Sometimes the “super” thing to do is to just take some time and breathe in this new life you have created, to revel in and respect the awesomeness of our bodies. Relying on other cultures and the past as a model, she advocates for a sense of community and a “tribe of mamas” to help the reader along during her journey to and through motherhood.
One area in which I was slightly surprised there wasn’t more discussion was that of vaccines. While Silverstone does minimally address this hot-button topic, she mostly leaves it up to the reader to gather information from recommended sources. And for certain areas such as cribs (which she clearly doesn’t think are needed) she provides only basic information, such as the importance of buying an environmentally friendly crib. But overall, Silverstone has thought of almost everything, from nutritional reasons why plant-based foods could make conception easier to post-birth topics such as birth control options.
Recipes and a Refreshing Look at Child-rearing
As for the recipes, Silverstone includes numerous meal and snack options for both Mama and baby. Although there are a few repeats from The Kind Life, there are plenty of new ones, and it’s hard not to fall for Silverstone’s obvious affection for healthy and delicious food. A handy guide for what to eat when you are craving certain “naughty” foods, oodles of natural remedies for common baby and kid ailments as well as a comprehensive list of vitamins and minerals and the foods in which they can be found, are all helpful additions to anyone’s educational arsenal (even those not expecting or beginning a new family).
Most of us get bombarded with advice from the mainstream media on a daily basis on what we need to buy for our baby, how to raise him or her, and even how to treat the natural process of birth like a medical emergency. The Kind Mama presents a comprehensive, well-researched alternative approach that shows clearly why what was considered unconventional or controversial even a few years ago in this country is now gaining acceptability. Silverstone is clearly not focused on stuff (baby toys barely get a mention), and her view on how to make, grow, give birth to, and care for a new life is refreshing in its simplicity and straight-forwardness: We need our intuition, our minds and bodies in their healthiest state, support from our loved ones and ourselves. Oh, and a little help from some green veggies.