What are the best pregnancy books?
Which ones should go on my bookshelf?
Pregnancy is a huge milestone in a woman’s life. Provided you have no complications, it can be a wonderful experience to have a little life growing inside you. It can also be scary. Whether it’s your first child or you’re a single mom or have health issues, no doubt you have a ton of questions and not always good answers.
Conflicting advice abounds even between obstetricians, so it’s up to you to find the answers you need for your situation. That’s where pregnancy books can add a little peace of mind.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I was completely neurotic. I’d always been healthy, but not a health nut by any means. But being responsible for the health and happiness of a whole new human being…well, that’s enough to make you paranoid beyond belief. Questions swam in my mind like frantic minnows on a daily basis.
- What’s that pain?
- What’s that stain?
- Will caffeine stunt her growth?
- Can I take a Tylenol?
- Can I go on long car trips?
- What if I go into labor at the grocery store?
- How much ice cream is too much?
- Can the husband and I still…you know? And until how long before she’s born?
- Will I know if it’s actual labor or just Braxton Hicks contractions?
- Did she move or was that just gas?
The list went on and on. I picked up a couple of pregnancy books, including the tried and true What to Expect When You’re Expecting. There have been some updated editions and expansions since 2001, which is good because medicine and health recommendations are changing all the time.
I even got a pregnancy journal for babies 2 and 3, which was great for capturing those little firsts like the first movement, the first set of maternity clothes, how we chose their names and pictures of my growing belly.
What should I look for in pregnancy books?
Instead of grabbing the first one you see, do a little self-evaluation (yes, I know you’re doing that by the hour) but stick with me here. Think about your family’s needs and lifestyle:
- Are you married, single or in a committed relationship? This is a huge factor in raising a child but applies when you’re pregnant too. For instance, who’s going to take you to doctor appointments or the hospital when you’re in labor if dad’s not in the picture?
- What’s your budget? This is not just about the price of the book, but about the advice within. If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to look for books that have advice that centers on saving money.
- Do you have pets? There are books like Good Dog, Happy Baby that help you prepare your pet for the new baby. “Listen, Spot, there’s going to be another loud, smelly thing in this house. Don’t bite it, okay?” The advice is much more in-depth than that, I’m sure.
- Do you enjoy cooking or are trying to eat healthier food? Look for pregnancy-based cookbooks. You need more calories and more of various nutrients like protein and folic acid while pregnant. Prenatal vitamins can’t provide all of that, but a good cookbook will help you find foods that do.
- Are you religious? Look for faith-based pregnancy books so your pregnancy can be a part of your daily prayers and worship.
Can I trust the reviews?
Now, that’s a biggie. Online reviews have gotten a bad rap in the last decade or so due to shady practices of some websites and business owners. Depending on where you look, there could be a big percentage of fake reviews. Thousands of businesses (including authors and publishers) have paid people to leave glowing reviews for their products.
While this isn’t as big of a problem with a book as opposed to something life-dependent like a car seat, it’s still aggravating as heck. But before you add this to your daily list of paranoid tendencies, know there are some things you can do to weed out the real from the fake.
- Read the negative reviews, especially the 3 star and below ones. These often are the most honest, but keep in mind that just like some businesses pay for good reviews, some pay for bad reviews to leave on their competitors’ sites.
- Look for extremes. If there are a ton of positive or negative reviews, the majority could be fake. Honest businesses have a wide range of reviews because there will always be people who like or dislike a product if they’ve truly used it.
- Search reviews on multiple sites, especially credible agencies like Consumer Reports, etc. Go to book review blogs, where there are usually one or just a few real readers posting honest reviews. Check for real endorsements from obstetrical experts like doctors and midwives.
- Look for trends. If several reviews point out the same issues across multiple star ratings and on different sites, you can probably count on those to be honest opinions.
- Read the online previews. Most online booksellers have a look inside feature so you can browse a portion of the book and see for yourself whether the content is good or not.
Now that you’re well-equipped for the best pregnancy book shopping battle, here are our top picks:
We have to start with this classic, now in its 5th edition. Called “America’s pregnancy bible”, this bestseller has been one of the most popular among moms for years. At times heartwarming, empathetic and funny, it provides answers to almost every general question you could think of. The medical advice is totally updated, with sections on today’s most pressing issues, like Zika virus, screening, medications and even postpartum birth control.
Current lifestyle trends are covered too, like e-cigarettes, organic foods, GMOs and new info about IVF pregnancy, home births, and C-sections. If you’re looking for really detailed information and statistics about specific medical issues or really in-depth text about anything, this one might disappoint you. It’s better for new moms as a quick reference guide and starting point for deeper research.
- Updated medical and lifestyle information
- Most popular pregnancy book
- Good reference guide for many pregnancy-related issues
- Advice may be too general on some topics
- Best for new moms
Whereas What to Expect focuses more on traditional medicine, this book is written by a midwife with 30+ years of experience in natural childbirth. It also focuses on the birth itself as opposed to the pregnancy, but most moms are nervous about the birth, so it’s good to be prepared, especially if you choose natural birth. In this book, you’ll find info about drug-free labor, episiotomies, inductions, postpartum depression, and a lot more.
I chose somewhat of a natural birth for all three of mine – I was still in a hospital but had nurse midwives and no epidural whatsoever. Yes, it can be done. However, this book is much better if you are going for a home birth with very little medical intervention. Much of the content is from real birth stories (some of which occurred a long time back) and the author tends to be very critical of the medical profession, which could turn some readers off.
- Great for planning an all-natural birth
- Written by an experienced midwife
- Real birth stories
- Might not be good if you’re planning a hospital birth
- Latest edition is 2008 (eBook) and 2003 (paperback)
Good nutrition is super important when you’re pregnant. You’re eating for two, after all. Don’t do what I did with my first and eat a whole gallon of ice cream in a week. Get a good cookbook like this one with recipes that cater to your pregnancy needs. The author is an OB-GYN and mother. She lists all the nutritional information, your daily consumption needs and which foods are best for those. With 100+ recipes, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, you’re sure to find something yummy and healthy in here.
Despite the title, this really isn’t a week-by-week meal plan. It’s more of a month-by-month. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan who tries to eat only organic foods, then you’ll probably love these recipes. If you’re an omnivore like me who can’t afford to do all my shopping at Whole Foods, you may find it not to your taste, as the author is a bit condescending towards anything but whole, plant-based diets.
- Great for vegan/vegetarian lifestyles
- Written by an OB/GYN
- 100+ recipes and nutrition guides
- May not be great for omnivores who eat non-organic
- Not a week-by-week meal plan as the title might suggest
Sure, you’re carrying the baby, but dads are part of the process too. Oftentimes, they can feel left out. They can’t physically relate to all the changes you’re going through so sometimes they can feel a bit clueless and helpless. If this is your guy, then this book might be for him. It’s a humorous guide to help dad help you and what not to do. It’s written by a dad, so he knows what you guys are going through.
If you’re expecting some in-depth scientifical stuff here, this is not your book. It’s more humor than hard fact. Think “man to man” advice while they’re having a beer. It’s not expensive though, so worth a read if you prefer funny over fact. If dad’s a first-timer and scared as heck, maybe skip this one or add another more scientific guide to his dad library.
- Written by a dad
- Humorous and lighthearted
- Good for an experienced or calm dad-to-be
- Not a lot of detailed, fact-based information
- May not be great for a first-time dad
Expectant moms need a laugh too. Pregnancy’s hard and scary enough. This book by actress/comedian Jenny McCarthy is really quite funny and dives into some of those things no one tells you about, like sex during pregnancy, hemorrhoids, and pooping on the delivery table. It’s comic relief wrapped around real pregnancy and childbirth issues. It’s not expensive and a great read for a laugh while you’re in a waiting room or on an airplane.
Like the Dude book above, this isn’t the one to turn to for medical advice but simply a lighthearted read like you’re talking to your girlfriend over coffee (decaf, right?). That being said, she’s not an author by trade, so don’t expect Pulitzer writing here. She’s also a celebrity, so it might be hard to relate to her for some women.
- Written by a mom
- Humorous and lighthearted
- Good for comic relief
- Not a lot of detailed, fact-based information
- May not be relatable to some women
YouTube wasn’t even a thing when I was pregnant with my first one in 2001. Now that YouTube stars are making waves in today’s world, you’ll find books like this one written by one such star. As the founder of MamaNatural.com, Ms. Howland offers practical, natural-lifestyle advice for pregnancy, parenting, and more. This book offers a week-by-week guide to nutrition, natural remedies and contains real birth and pregnancy stories from women with totally different backgrounds and stages of pregnancy and child-rearing.
The book is centered more around strong opinions rather than scientific data, so if you’re researching medical options. There are a few controversial topics such as circumcision in here that the author doesn’t endorse, but doesn’t condemn, either. If that bothers you, you might want to shy away from it. But if you like to read opinions from both sides of certain issues, then this might be a good addition to your mommy library.
- Written by a mom & YouTube star
- Discusses all stages of pregnancy birth and beyond
- Endorses natural lifestyles
- Contains some controversial material
- Strong opinions with little scientific backing
For the mom (and dad) who want more specific medical advice, charts, week-by-week guides to baby’s growth and month-to-month changes for mamas, this is the book you need. When you have a weird symptom or need to know what medicines are safe, you can turn to this one for a lot of your answers. It’s written by doctors from the legendary Mayo Clinic who are also parents. Of course, NO book should replace the advice of your own OB/GYN or midwife, so consult with them first for serious issues.
If you’re on a totally natural childbirth, diet and medicine path, you may not like the medical-centered advice in this book. Some readers felt like the authors were condescending towards natural lifestyles and felt some of the sections to be alarmist in nature. So if you’re one of those people who have hypochondriac tendencies and spend way too much time on Web MD, this may make you even more paranoid. All in all, though, it’s a thorough look at what’s happening as you and your baby grow.
- Written by doctors at the Mayo Clinic
- Medical-based advice, facts, charts, etc.
- Good for first-time parents
- May not be useful for those who plan on a natural birth, diet, etc.
- Some topics could sound alarmist
Pregnancy and childbirth can be daunting, especially if you’re a first-time mom. But as a veteran mom myself, I can honestly say that the hardest part of being a parent is AFTER you bring them home. Of course, that’s when you turn to parenting books.
But until then, which of these will be your best pregnancy book?
|Product||Photo||Customer Rating||Dietary Compatibility||Cost|
|New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins||★★||Gluten Free|
|Garden of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamin||★★★||Gluten Free|
|Nature Made Multi Prenatal Vitamins||★★★||Gluten Free||$|
|VitaFusion Prenatal Gummy Vitamins||★★★★||N/A||$|
|Garden of Life Organic Prenatal Vitamin||★||Gluten Free|
|Olly Essential Prenatal Multi-Vitamin **EDITOR'S CHOICE**||★★★★||N/A||$|
|SmartyPants Prenatal Complete Gummy Vitamins||★★||Gluten Free|
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