My son turned one recently, so pregnancy books are in my rearview (for now), but I read with interest about the upcoming book Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong—and What You Really Need to Know, by University of Chicago economist Emily Oster, because it sounds like just the sort of book I would have checked out when pregnant. I was neither a nervous nellie nor a beaming earth goddess. I was me—just with a baby inside—and I sought out books accordingly. If you are or think you’ll be the type of pregnant woman who wants information, minus the finger-wagging or tantric herbal perineal massage, here are my recommendations:
The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
Just the facts, ma’am. Each week I enjoyed checking this no-nonsense guide to see what Little Andre was up to, how big he was, and how much more he looked like a human than an alien-lizard. It was matter-of-fact without being dry, easy to flip through with nice illustrations. If you want the most basic of information with very little spin, this is a good way to go.
How To Have Your Second Child First, by Kerry Colburn and Rob Sorenson
I dogeared more pages in this book than I didn’t. I knew going into parenthood that I didn’t want to try to reinvent the wheel when it came to raising our child. If I could learn some shortcuts and tips that could reduce my stress level once the baby came along, I was down. Colburn and Sorenson’s book looks almost like a gift book, but make no mistake: the advice in it is a lifesaver for any new parent who wants a reality check (on such topics as the uselessness of luxuries like wipe warmers).
The Panic-Free Pregnancy, by Michael Broder and Patricia Carroll
I know this can be a controversial topic, but when I was pregnant, I wanted to educate myself in terms of what I could actually ingest, within reason. I wanted to enjoy my pregnancy without reflexively swearing off all soft cheeses, cold cuts, alcohol, nail polish, jogging, and so on. Dr. Broder was a calming voice of reason when I realized that I had eaten a turkey sandwich (no) with sprouts (no!!!) days after I received my positive pregnancy test. I like that he assumes his audience is made of adult women who can make informed choices and understand concepts like moderation.
Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born, by Tina Cassidy
I did not attend a birthing class. I was signed up for one ($120 for a seven-hour class on a weekend? UGH), but then my cousin, after taking hers, told me that I’d learn the same things from the reading material she received in the class, which she then loaned to me. However, thanks to Cassidy’s book, I wasn’t completely ignorant as to the ways birth operates. While definitely cringeworthy, and sad at times (until fairly recently, it was hard out there for both a newly pregnant woman and a new baby), it’s a fascinating glimpse at the human body and the history of obstetrics, and will definitely—definitely—make you think twice before wishing you’d been born in an earlier era.
Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook For New Dads, by Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden
A dad friend recommended I purchase this for my husband. It was funny to me, because it looked and read like a fun version of all the books I was looking at. Where the Mayo Clinic guide featured detailed illustrations of a dilated cervix, Be Prepared contained funny drawings. The Panic-Free Pregnancy told me all about the cautionary measures I needed to take; Be Prepared told my husband about games he could play with the newborn (no mom books ever—ever!—feature games, because god forbid a mom have fun). Regardless, my husband enjoyed reading it and found it educational; plus, there’s something to be said for learning about your newborn’s weird temporary reflexes (and the party tricks you can get them to do). Expectant dads don’t seem to obsessively read baby books in anticipation of delivery the way moms do, but it’s good if they check out at least one, and this is a fun, harmless, dare I say even useful buy.
What’s your go-to source for sane and soothing pregnancy advice?