My Favourite Pregnancy Books

preggersReviewed by Becky Benoit

Now that the end of my third pregnancy is in sight (37 weeks and counting), I’m starting to get a little anxious about when this baby might choose to make her appearance, and how long I might have to get to the hospital. Having heard that third pregnancies are generally considerably faster, and having terrifying visions of an emergency home birth that resembles an Olympic bobsledding competition, I decided to consult my home library, which has a fairly expansive section on pregnancy and birth.

Just how expansive was quickly brought home to me, when I started counting and realized I had 13 books dealing with the subject, everything from the classic What to Expect When You’re Expecting to a hilarious, if blatantly offensive, men’s guide to pregnancy called Breathe, which provided helpful tips for sneaking off for golf weekends after your baby is born.

Some of these books were pretty well-thumbed, while I’d obviously never cracked the spine on some of the others. Here are a few of my favourites:

what-to-expectWhat to Expect When You’re Expecting: This is the perennial classic, especially for first-time moms, and for good reason. When I was pregnant with my first, this was the first book I ran out and bought as soon as the pregnancy test showed a plus sign, and I read it compulsively. Granted, I’m a big believer that forewarned is forearmed, and living in Fort McMurray, far away from my mom and sister, I felt a little adrift about this whole pregnancy business.

What to Expect contains a wealth of information, everything from monthly updates on how your baby is growing and how your body is changing to how to care for your newborn and how to get started with breastfeeding. For first-time moms, or for moms who have a gap between babies and need a refresher, it’s a great reference.

Some moms have complained that this book is a little preachy and condescending, but I didn’t find that to be the case. Perhaps if this isn’t your first baby, you might find that, but for brand-new moms, I think there’s a reason everyone turns to this book first. It addresses the many worries that plague an expectant mother, but does so in a way that is reassuring and designed to assuage fears, not ramp them up (which is more than I can say for some things you might find on the internet!)

As an aside, if you’re a first-time mom, I found the follow-up book What to Expect the First Year, to be even more helpful. I read that thing cover-to-cover, and in the absence of a helpful mom or grandma, it answered so many questions for me in that amazing but often mystifying first year with baby.pregnancy-week-by-week

Your Pregnancy Week By Week: This is one that I read throughout all three of my pregnancies. Even when it’s not your first rodeo, it’s still so exciting to think about all the changes that are happening to your little one, especially during the first trimester when you’re struggling with the less pleasant side effects of pregnancy and it’s hard to imagine that there’s actually a little person in there. There’s so much going on in your belly during pregnancy, and having a weekly update rather than a monthly one ensures you don’t miss a thing.

Pregnancy, at least for me, seems to stretch on for a long time, and having a weekly update of what’s going on in there was a wonderful way to celebrate the progress I was making. And when the third trimester rolled around, and I was hot and grumpy and impatient for this whole thing to be over, having that weekly update reminded me that I was in the home stretch.

mother-of-pregnancyThe Mother Of All Pregnancy Books by Ann Douglas: This book, as the title suggests, is loaded with information. It’s a good reference book, and answers so many of the questions that crop up during pregnancy. It’s a good book to have in combination with the others, because it doesn’t give a whole lot of info about how your baby and your body is growing and changing. It does, however, give a whole lot more information about specific topics that are only glossed over or vaguely referred to in What to Expect or Week By Week. A warning, though – if you’re a worrywart and tend to get paranoid and freaked out by the potential that something will go wrong during your pregnancy, perhaps steer clear of this one. For some moms, the more information they can find, the better prepared they feel to deal with potential complications, but for most moms, the risk of things like birth defects is really low, and reading about the dire possibilities might just add to your stress if you’re a natural worrier.

Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy: I bought this book long before the whole Jenny McCarthy autism/vaccine controversy broke out. If you can ignore that, this book is still a hilarious look at the many trials, tribulations and indignities suffered by the human body during pregnancy. My favourite description, which still makes me laugh out loud, is McCarthy’s view of how one’s girlie bits look after giving birth.  It’s good for a laugh, something that is sometimes much-needed when you’re in the midst of pregnancy and longing for the finish line.