There is no shortage of pregnancy books that aim to help expectant moms have a healthy pregnancy and birth, from books geared to first-time moms to guides that help parents seeking a natural birth.
Expectant mothers receive lots of information, and it can be overwhelming; often, the information isn't even useful. Ever heard the saying a book a day keeps bankruptcy away? Perhaps not, since I just made it up, but I’m sure you’re with me in the thought that information is a crucial step to power. An excellent book guides and inspires us to change, makes us think and learn both new and old ideas, and helps us achieve the desires that caused the purchase. The challenging part is picking the right book for you, your family, and your baby.
As a Career Coach with a graduate degree in Career Guidance, I’m always looking for ways to help parents simplify their lives, avoid burnout and pursue their personal and professional dreams. The unique emotions of first-time pregnancy and motherhood are brand new to me; my little one just turned one, so Dr. Google and I have been getting to know each other well since pregnancy. Still, I love the countless benefits of having rich, expert information in a book. Below are seven of the best pregnancy books.
1. What To Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi E. Murkoff
This is a bestselling pregnancy book and arguably one of the most popular. Murkoff is one of the world's leading experts in pregnancy and childcare.
If you’re looking for a long, detailed pregnancy book, this is the book for you. It’s regularly referred to as the pregnancy Bible, setting out the dos and don'ts of pregnancy—almost giving you a list of rules to follow. Because it’s so rich in detail, first-time mothers may find it especially useful. People who learn by repetition will appreciate the reiteration of certain pregnancy conditions like constipation. Want something succinct and less wordy? Then this probably isn’t the right one for you.
2. The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning by Alicia Silverstone
You’ll love this if you want an off-the-beaten-path take on pregnancy and birth. Silverstone radiates plenty of girl power and love for the female body. Her voice and opinions come across strong, so if you’re considering alternative pregnancies, birthing, or childrearing, then you may want to pass on this book. Her strong vegan perspective can also come across as a bit judgy. but if you’re a vegan, too, you may be okay with that. Silverstone can also get a bit emotive.
3. The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine
This book is pretty much the polar opposite of What to Expect and is perky and conversational in its tone. If you're not looking for a medical guide from a doctor, midwife, or psychologist, then this book will be a great addition to your book collection. The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy is not a book to help you make decisions or get expert advice. It’s written by someone who has experienced being pregnant and is definitely a lighthearted, humorous read.
The author does appear to have a leaning towards medicated birthing and shares some thoughts about what you should and shouldn’t do with eating, drinking, exercising, and dying your hair. She does poke some fun at women who would think of using the services of a midwife, having a home birth, using pain relief other than an epidural, or even exercising during pregnancy.
4. Your Pregnancy and Childbirth, Month to Month, Sixth Edition by American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
This book is very informative and scientific. If you appreciate your advice succinct and straightforward, you’ll appreciate this book. The language is easily understood by non-medical professionals and covers a range of topics like how to make sure you and baby are safe during pregnancy, childbirth, frequent tests, and nutrition. The fact that it's published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists lends peace of mind to parents wanting a high standard, expert medical opinion.
5. The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland
Howland is the founder of Mama Natural, the Web's most popular blog, and a YouTube presence for natural pregnancy and childbirth. As the name suggests, the key benefits of this book are that it's split into week-by-week sections with weekly topics and geared to the organic-loving, natural mama. It has a reassuring and empowering tone, making it feel less “judgy” and easier to accept. Should you be concerned about morning sickness, this book has a detailed section on the science behind it and remedies to keep it under control. It’s informative without being overwhelming.
6. Expecting Better by Emily Oster
Are you known as the friend who always asks, "Why?" Here’s your book. Oster is an economics professor at the University of Chicago. She explains that in order to make sensible decisions about what to do and not to do when pregnant, you need information on the risks, as well as the pros and cons. This book does a great job at giving evidence that backs up pregnancy “rules.”
It's also well written with anecdotes that make it light-hearted in places. If you’re analytical, you may like this one; however, doesn’t provide much of a holistic understanding of pregnancy.
7. Black, Pregnant and Loving It: The Comprehensive Pregnancy Guide for Today’s Woman of Color by Dr. Suzanne Greenidge-Hewitt and Yvette Allen-Campbell
Dr. Greenidge-Hewitt has over 26 years of experience as a board-certified OBGYN, and Allen-Campbell is a leader in education. The book contains honest authoritative information with 77 references on the importance of being in communication with your healthcare provider. It also features 64 beautiful photos of women of varying shades. I had the privilege of recently interviewing the authors, who told me they were inspired to inform, affirm, and celebrate black women because unfortunately not all pregnancies are created equal. African American women are at a higher risk for complications such as asthma, hypertension, and preterm birth. There are twice as many black infants born with low birth weights, who are then developmentally delayed, and three times as many black women die as a result of complications. The book is currently the only month-by-month pregnancy guide specifically for black women.
It has a bit of everything, like a prenatal appointment form; conditions, and disorders that tend to comprise black women, and features like folklore wisdom and soul food recipes written by a chef. The ancestry insight really helps celebrate black culture. As the book is tailored to black parents, the authors believe that book helps you connect and feel more validated and affirmed, and, in turn, the information is more likely to help new mothers.
Being pregnant is truly a special time. It’s hard to think much beyond delivering the baby, but the more organized you are before baby, the better. Think about the resources you’ll need as you settle into your role as a mother. Our unique sleep needs and the challenges we face maintaining a work-life balance require specialized help. Get equipped now so that you’re not left behind.