What to Expect When You're Expecting

What to Expect When You're Expecting

3.7 384
by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, Sandee Hathaway

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Now with over 9.9 million copies in print, What To Expect When You're Expecting is America's pregnancy bible. Featuring an easy-to-follow month-by-month format, this indispensable book reassuringly leads readers through a wealth of information. Here is what parents-to-be need to know about choosing a caregiver, prenatal diagnosis, exercise, childbirth…  See more details below


Now with over 9.9 million copies in print, What To Expect When You're Expecting is America's pregnancy bible. Featuring an easy-to-follow month-by-month format, this indispensable book reassuringly leads readers through a wealth of information. Here is what parents-to-be need to know about choosing a caregiver, prenatal diagnosis, exercise, childbirth options, second pregnancies, twins, making love during pregnancy, having a cesarean, and coping with common and not-so-common pregnancy symptoms. Also included are step-by-step guides through labor and delivery, postpartum care, and breastfeeding, a full section just for fathers-to-be, and a 24-page of Pregnancy Notes" insert for keeping detailed records of prenatal test results, weight gain, doctor As visits, observations, and more. Updated with each printing, What To Expect When You're Expecting incorporates the most recent developments in medical science and responds to the many letters and queries received from readers. Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, the Better Homes & Gardens Family Book Service, and ABA Basic Booklist. Winner of the Parent's Choice Foundation's 1991 Parenting Shelf Award.

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Editorial Reviews

This classic guide to pregnancy has accompanied countless moms-to-be through nine months of anticipation, worries, bathroom visits, prenatal tests, excitement, and overwhelming food cravings. Updated to reflect the most recent information about pregnancy and childbirth, as well as the latest nutritional guidance for expectant mothers, the book is a comprehensive and comforting source of advice for parents-to-be.

Product Details

Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date:
What to Expect Series
Edition description:
Revised and Updated
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 8.94(h) x 1.29(d)

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What to Expect When You're Expecting

WHat You Can Expect At Your First Prenatal Visit

The first prenatal visit is the most comprehensive of all the prenatal visits. (See the Appendix for an explanation of the procedures and tests performed.) A complete medical history will be taken, and certain tests an procedures will be performed only at this exam. One practitioner's routine may vary slightly from another's. In general, the examination will include:

Confirmation of Your Pregnancy.

Your practitioner will want to check the following: the pregnancy symptoms you are experiencing; the date of your last normal menstrual period, to determine your estimated date of delivery (EDD), or due date (see page 6); your cervix and uterus, for signs and approximate age of the pregnancy. If there's any question, a pregnancy test may be ordered if you haven't already had one.

A Complete History.

To give you the best care, your practitioner will want to know a great deal about you. Come prepared by checking home records and refreshing your memory, as necessary, on the following: your personal medical history (chronic illness, previous major illness or surgery, medications you are presently taking or have taken since conception, known allergies, including drug allergies); your family medical history (genetic disorders and chronic illnesses); your social history (age, occupation, and habits, such as smoking, drinking, exercising, diet); your gynecological and obstetrical history (age at first menstrual period, usual length of menstrual cycle, duration and regularity of menstrual periods, past abortions, miscarriages, and live births; course of past pregnancies, labors and deliveries); and factors in your personal life that might affect your pregnancy.

A Complete Physical Examination.

This may include: assessment of your general health through examination of heart, lungs, breasts, abdomen; measurement of your blood pressure to serve as a baseline reading for comparison at subsequent visits; notation of your height and weight, usual and present; inspection of extremities for varicose veins and edema (swelling from excess fluid in tissues) to serve as a baseline for comparison at subsequent visits; inspection and palpation of external genitalia; internal examination of your vagina and cervix (with a speculum in place); examination of your pelvic organs bimanually (with one hand in the vagina and one on the abdomen) and also through the rectum and vagina; assessment of the size and shape of your bony pelvis.

A Battery of Tests.

Some tests are routine for every pregnant woman; some are routine in some areas of the country or with some practitioners, and not others; some are performed only when circumstances warrant. The most common prenatal tests include:

  • A blood test to determine blood type and check for anemia.
  • Urinalysis to screen for sugar, protein, white blood cells, blood, and bacteria.
  • Blood screens to determine immunity to such diseases as rubella.
  • Tests to disclose the presence of such infections as syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis, chlamydia, and in some cases, AIDS).
  • Genetic tests for sickle-cell anemia or Tay-Sachs disease.
  • A Pap smear for the detection of cervical cancer.
  • A gestational diabetic screening test to check for any tendency toward diabetes, particularly for women who have previously had an excessively large baby or gained excessive weight with an earlier pregnancy.
An Opportunity for Discussion.

Come prepared with a list of questions, problems, and symptoms you would like to talk about. This is also a good time to bring up any special concerns that weren't addressed at an earlier consultation.

What You May Look Like

By the end of the first month, your baby is a tiny, tadpole-like embryo, smaller than a grain of rice. In the next two weeks, the neural tube (which becomes the brain and spinal cord), heart digestive tract, sensory organs, an arm and leg buds will begin to form.

What You Might Be Feeling

You may experience all of these symptoms at one time or another, or only one or two.


  • Absence of menstruation (though you may stain slightly when your period would have been expected or when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus)
  • Fatigue and sleepiness
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea, with or without vomiting, and/or excessive salivation (ptyalism)
  • Heartburn, indigestion, flatulence, bloating
  • Food aversions and cravings
  • Breast changes (most pronounced in women who have breast changes prior to menstruation): fullness, heaviness, tenderness, tingling; darkening of the areola (the pigmented area surrounding the nipple). Sweat glands in the areola become prominent (Montgomery's tubercles), looking like large goose bumps; a network of bluish lines appear under the skin as blood supply to the breasts increases (though these lines may not appear until later)

  • Instability comparable to premenstrual syndrome, which may include irritability, mood swings, irrationality, weepiness
  • Misgivings, fear, joy, elation
  • any or all of these
What You May Be Concerned About


"I'm tired all the time. I'm worried that I won't be able to continue working."

It would be surprising if you weren't tired. In some ways, your pregnant body is working harder even when you're resting than a nonpregnant body is when mountain-climbing; you just can't see its efforts. For one thing, it's manufacturing your baby's life-support system, the placenta, which won't be completed until the end of the first trimester. For another, it's adjusting to the many other physical and emotional demands of pregnancy, which are considerable. Once your body has adjusted and the placenta is complete (around the fourth month), you should have more energy. Until then, you may need to work fewer hours or take a few days off if you're really dragging. But if your pregnancy continues normally, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't stay at your job (assuming your doctor hasn't restricted your activity and/or the work isn't overly strenuous or hazardous; see page 72). Most pregnant women are happier and less anxious if they keep busy.

Since your fatigue is legitimate, don't fight it. Consider it a sensible signal from your body that you need more rest. That, of course, is more easily suggested than done. But it's worth a try.

Baby Yourself.

If you're a first-time expectant mother, enjoy what will probably be your last chance for a long while to focus on taking care of yourself without feeling guilty. If you already have one or more children at home, you will have to divide your focus. But either way, this is not a time to strive for Super-Mom-to-Be status. Getting adequate rest is more important than keeping your house white-glove-test clean or serving dinners worthy of four-star ratings. Keep evenings free of unessential activities. Spend them off your feet when you can, reading, watching TV, or scouring baby-name books. If you have older children, read to them, play quiet games with them, or watch classic children's videos with them rather than traipsing off to the playground. (Fatigue may be more pronounced when there are older children at home, simply because there are so many more physical demands and so much less time to rest. On the other hand, it may be less noticed, since a mother of young children is usually accustomed to exhaustion and/or too busy to mind.)

And don't wait until nightfall to take it easy

  • if you can afford the luxury of an afternoon nap, by all means indulge. If you can't sleep, lie down with a good book. A nap at the office isn't a reasonable goal, of course, unless you have a flexible schedule and access to a comfortable sofa, but putting your feet up at your desk or on the sofa in the ladies room during breaks and lunch hours may be. (If you choose to rest at lunch hour, don't forget to eat, too.) Napping when you're mothering may also be difficult, but if you can time your rest with the children's nap-time (if they still nap), you may be able to get away with it
  • assuming you can tolerate the unwashed dishes and the dust balls under the bed.
Let Others Baby You.

Accept your mother-in-law's offer to vacuum and dust the house when she's visiting. Let your dad take the older kids to the zoo on Sunday. Enlist your husband for chores like laundry and marketing.

Get an Hour or Two More Sleep Each Night.

Skip the 11 o'clock news and turn in earlier; ask your husband to fix breakfast so you can turn out later.

Be Sure That Your Diet Isn't Deficient.

First-trimester fatigue is often aggravated by a deficiency in iron, protein, or just plain calories. Double-check to make certain you're filling all of your requirements (see the Best-Odds Diet, page 80). And no matter how tired you're feeling, don't be tempted to rev up your body with caffeine and candy bars, and cake. It won't be fooled for long, and after the temporary lift, your blood sugar will plummet, leaving you more fatigued than ever.

Check Your Environment.

Inadequate lighting, poor air quality ("sick building" syndrome), or excessive noise in your home or workplace can contribute to fatigue. Be alert to these problems and try to get them corrected.

Take a Hike.

Or a slow jog. Or a stroll to the grocery store. Or the time to do a pregnancy exercise routine. Paradoxically, fatigue can he heightened by too much rest and not enough activity. But don't overdo the exercise. Stop before that exercise high dissolves into a low, and be sure to follow the precautionary guidelines on page 195.

Though fatigue will probably ease up by month four, you can expect it to return in the last trimester -probably as nature's way of preparing you for the long sleepless nights once the baby has arrived.

When fatigue is severe, especially if it is accompanied by fainting, pallor, breathlessness, and/or palpitations, it's wise to report it to your practitioner...

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What to Expect When You're Expecting 3.7 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 384 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I have no idea why it comes so highly recommended by so many people. Huge portions of the book dwell on possible complications and frightening scenarios without stressing that, though possible, most of these scenarios happen in a small majority of cases. I found the book to be remarkably condescending particularly with its repeated warnings to lay off alcohol and drugs; I'm not disputing the importance of avoiding each, I'm saying that it's really not necessary to repeat the warnings so often at the expense of not offering other suggestions on health and well being. In addition, the book gave the impression that for the duration of pregnancy you more or less cease to be an individual and instead are charged with the lone task of incubating your baby. Most women I know, myself included, took the job seriously but didn't feel that they needed to sacrifice most aspects of themselves in the process. I also thought many of the book's suggestions were highly unrealistic. For example, one segment suggested that if you're a caffeine junkie or looking for a subsitute for something like a drink after work to try and subsitute something healthy for you and the baby. Their suggestion? Scrubbing some vegetables. Yeah. Because scrubbing vegetables comes even close to something you do to pamper yourself. All told, I just didn't feel that the book was that positive or did much to address positive solutions to questions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Seriously, MUCH better books out there. This was a scary ride! I threw it out when I was about halfway through it. Pregnancy is not a condition or illness which is what this books make you feel like it is. Not impressed. And what is up with it making it sound like your giving birth in 1900? Need to get up to speed with womens rights and all information.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a first time pregnant mother, this book has made me afraid of being pregnant! Every terrible thing that could possibly happen to your unborn child is clearly laid out in this book. I finally had to quit reading it and just put it away. I agree it is important to be informed, but books like this just scare any new mother and take the fun out of being pregnant!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The mother-hating message that oozes through this text nullifies whatever decent information you could get from it. Yes, the book breaks down 'what to expect' month by month. But a lot of good pregnancy books do the same. The other portion of the text is medical advice, most of which is in the vein on what you, The Evil Mother, can do to avoid all the selfish habits you have and stupid things you might do. Fantastic advice on pregnancy, such as going on a Nazi diet plan (you know, when you're vomiting your brains out and your gut is slowly quiting on you) with enforced meal times ('never, never skip a meal' - you might kill your fetus. Huh? About 50% of women spend 3-4 months or longer chucking up at least one meal a day.) and a required ton of vegetables, preferably raw (yeah, that will go down well). In the chapters on labor, the patronizing tone becomes something out of a 1950's manual: try timidly asking your doctor if you can avoid being shaved or having an enema during labor, with the understanding that he has the final say (really? I thought it was a woman's choice what treatment she had). The same holds true with having an IV, an episiotomy, a drink of water (contrary to what most people are told, the chances of aspirating and then dying under general anesthesia is about the same as winning Powerball), even touching your baby's head during crowning ('If your practioner approves'). How about this gem - advice to the labor coach that if the expectant mother requests pain medication, relay the information to the nurse, but ask her to wait a while to see if Mom changes her mind. By the time a woman requests pain meds, she's likely to have been in agony for some time. That appears not to be a factor. When the physician approves of pain medication (pain medication being necessarily good, because hospitals back the use of them), the Evil Mother must allow herself the pain relief while remembering 'the innocent bystander', the baby she is imposing her selfish need for pain relief on. Seriously, the biggest qualms I have with this book is that it is misleading about a woman's rights to treatment and bodily integrity during pregnancy. For instance, the book advises '...you can't always make the decision over whether or not you should have an IV.' Um, yes you can. You simply say, 'I refuse to have an IV and accept responsibility for that decision.' Eisenberg, Murkoff and Hathaway are apparently so desperate to get official approval from physicians and hospitals that they are making up their own laws! Other books have the same information, but without the condescending, mother-hating (even woman-hating) attitudes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Be careful before you buy this book. It will scare the pants off of you if you are a first time pregnant mom. You will feel as if you are doing nothing right and everything you do is hurting the baby. There are many other books out there that are more informative and helpful. Even my doctor told me not to read this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is terrible. As if in pregnancy, you're not emotional enough. The second I opened the book and began reading, the whole book is about everything that can POSSIBLY go wrong in pregnancy. Forgive me, but I like to think optimistically, and this book has no optimism whatsoever. If you like the idea of reading about your child possibly dying in utero in millions of different ways, then by all means, but I would never suggest this as a pregnancy read. NOT AT ALL! Just a forwarning.
Guest More than 1 year ago
They should rename this book 'What Could Possibly Go Wrong When You're Expecting.' This book is written in an alarmist fashion ... the last thing you need when you're pregnant. They tell you what awful things could be signaled by certain symptoms; often your chances of getting said awful thing is low, but they don't tell you any percentages. They'd rather freak you out...even if chances are, your symptoms are normal. I don't know why this book is so popular. Every page is a downer...Just look at the woman on the cover illustration. Does she look happy? No. Probably because the book in her hand is this one, she just read it, and it's freaked her out! I picked up a week-by-week book at K-Mart (see below,) and it is wonderful. I threw this book away...I didn't even want to give it to someone else. Reading this book, you wouldn't imagine, but some women actually find pregnancy the best experience of their lifetime. Get the advice of your doctor when something goes wrong or if you're worried. Don't buy this book. Enjoy your pregnancy.
Heather Britton More than 1 year ago
overall, I found that this book was fearmongering.....it made pregnancy and childbirth sound like something horrid.....there are 100s of better childbirth/pregnancy books to choose from!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being a first time mother-to-be, I read this book almost cover to cover. After reading this book, I was completely paranoid and frightened of everything I did and ate. Pregnancy became a frightenning experience instead of a joyous one. I called my obgyn every single time I found out information that didn't coincide with hers. Each and every time I read about a symptom, I began to feel it and called my doctor right away. I ended up telling my husband to hide the book somewhere I would not be able to find it, so that I would enjoy the rest of my pregnancy. Although this book may be informative on some topics, I would not recommend it for first time moms.
FirstTimeMommy More than 1 year ago
I ordered two different books on pregnancy after finding out I am expecting my first baby. I have never been pregnant before and this book gives me all the information I need. My husband and I have been reading it every week for more than 5 months now. I never even refer to the other book I ordered any more. It answers all my questions and is a great resource, especially for first time moms!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a frightening look at what is one of the most normal and intimate of human experiences. The tone is often condescending and the information basic, at best. It approaches pregnancy and childbirth as 'medical conditions', as if women are incapable of making sense of a pregnancy on their own. I have 3 children- with birth experiences in a hospital setting and at home and CANNOT RECOMMEND this book to anyone, in particular those who view pregnancy as a normal condition.
ALowell More than 1 year ago
It is loaded with bad information which is sure to make an expectant mother more nervous than she already is, much more than she ever should be. There are much better books available that have better information, presented in a much less threatening and intimidating way. Try the book by Simkin and Klauss, Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn. It's so much better and you won't regret it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has an overly medical approach to pregnancy. It will leave you paranoid and will hinder you in decision making. This tells you everything that can go wrong and treats invasive interventions as routine. I would not waste my time and money on it, if I were you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was a pregnant rookie and this book filled my head with dread. It should be retitled "You Can's Do Anything When You're Pregnant", meaning if you do anything but excersize and eat right then you are doomed to harm your unborn fetus in unimaginable ways. Instead, listen to your own better judgement. You're baby will be fine (even if you do eat fast food and yes, dare I say it, smoke cigarettes).
Guest More than 1 year ago
While this book has a lot of info in it, it also has a lot of TMI. Chances are you will never need to know most of the stuff in this book and it will just scare the bejeezes out of you with the long lists of all things that could possibly go wrong not to mention the part at the end with the so called 'ideal' diet. It never had any information on some of the stuff I wanted to know more about, and just made me more paranoid.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was disappointing to read. It did not provide adequate information as to what is going on for fetus growth and development during each week. It discusses in detail that drugs, alcohol, and smoking are dangerous, and this is covered over and over in the book (not necessary).
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book offers the most very basic information only. The childbirth section provides more instruction on how to be a patient of the OB, hospital, nurse, etc. than on how to cope with labor and everything it entails. Wow -- talk about teaching a woman how to be a lemming!!!! Do yourself a favor and buy a more comprehensive book that explores OPTIONS instead of telling you how to be the perfect lemming. Of the 20+ books I have read on pregnancy, this was the very worst one, and yet you hear about it all the time! A first-time mom especially deserves to read a more comprehensive book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book does a good job of answering those weird questions all pregnant moms have, but leans towards the paranoid. If you want a painful, medicalized pregnancy & birth, this is the book for you!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Contrary to what I heard, this book was quite disappointing. Upon becoming pregnant, I instantly ran out and bought it, thinking it was the 'bible' of pregnancy. That was not the case at all. The information was antiquated and biased, not being supportive of individual choices a woman might make. It did provide some facts, but also some silly suggestions and put a lot of worry into me. The fact is, pregnancy is a normal healthy thing, it's not a medical condition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Essential when pregnant. It helped me with the birth of my first son Alexander and I felt comforted having it by my side when I became pregnant this March. 
lent More than 1 year ago
This book is very good. It is well written with many answers to the questions I have had. Many times its put my mind at ease because what I was experiencing is considered normal. It gives good advice on what to eat, how to exercise, and what not to do. Unlike many, I don't feel that it was offensive or alarming. If the subject had nothing to do with me or what I was going through, I skipped it. And most of the issues this book deals with are everyday issues, such as fatigue. I am a first time mother, and I really liked this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting from many points of view, not as much as I expected tough. It gives a general view of the problems you may have during pregnancy, but nothing that I didn't already know. Especially regarding the natural and holistic remedies, there's just about nothing. I don't think it's a "must have".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I almost wish I had of bought the actual book because on my nook (which is e-ink with the little color touch screen) its sometimes hard to follow. I have figured out it's because in the actuall book there are sometimes insets on a page (like a text box thats seperated from the rest of the text. BUT on my nook youre reading about something and then all of a sudden you are reading about a slightly different topic with only a line as a warning. Then it of course goes back to the original topic when you are done with the inset part. I would also be very interested in seeing the pictures and such that I'm sure are in the actuall book. Overall though I'm glad I have the book in any form!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a great resource for any expectant mother. However, I don't recommend the book in this format the book is used as a reference and you may read one section and it say see pg... when you go to that page its different on the Nook. Not so helpful.
epholdstein More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. Obviously. And you will hear that from every pregnant person you know, and every person who has ever been. It's informative and comforting. But keep in mind that it's not the ONLY accurate, informative book ever written on pregnancies. I almost prefer "Your Pregnancy, week by week". It answer all the same questions and gives you more week by week guidance, including an actual size estimator for each week of your baby's development (until closer to birth of course) which I really enjoy. Plus it's written by a mother who is also a doctor. I like that aspect too. But in What To Expect its easier to skip around to parts applicable to only you thanks to the Q&A format. I'd buy it again.