The best just got better.
Expect the best! A brand-new fourth edition—filled with the most up-to-date, accurate, and relevant information on all things pregnancy. Realistic, supportive, easy to access, and overflowing with practical tips, covering everything you'll need—and want—to know about life's most amazing journey, from preconception planning to birth to those first miraculous weeks with a new baby. It's all here: the lowdown on lifestyle trends and life in the workplace; the latest in prenatal testing and alternative therapies; the best in birthing options.
Comforting answers to hundreds of questions:
• I'm so queasy I can't even eat for one. How can I eat for two?
• Can I get highlights in my hair? How about my monthly wax?
• I'm only in my second month—why am I showing already?
• Can I stick to my normal workout routine while I’m expecting?
• Why is my skin broken out and blotchy? And how can I cover it?
• What's safe when it comes to sex?
• I think I felt the baby kicking—but I’m not sure. How do I tell?
• Will my body ever be the same after I deliver?
About the Author
Arlene Eisenberg worked on all three editions of What to Expect When You're Expecting and remained active in the What To Expect Foundation until her death in February 2001. She was also co-author, with Heidi Murkoff, of the "What to Expect" magazine columns.
Sandee Hathaway holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Boston University. An experience RN with a specialty in obstetrics and neonatal care, Sandee lives in Waban, Massachussets with her husband and three children.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 5 - The First Month
Approximately 1 to 4 Weeks
Congratulations-and welcome to your pregnancy! Though you almost certainly don't look pregnant yet, chances are you're already starting to feel it. Whether it's just tender breasts and a little fatigue you're experiencing, or every early pregnancy symptom in the book (and then some), your body is gearing up for the months of baby-making to come. As the weeks pass, you'll notice changes in parts of your body you'd expect (like your belly), as well as places you wouldn't expect (your feet and your eyes). You'll also notice changes in the way you live-and look at-life. But try not to think (or read) too far ahead. For now, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the beginning of one of the most exciting and rewarding adventures of your life.
What You Can Expect at Your First Prenatal Visit
Your first prenatal visit will probably be the longest you'll have during your pregnancy, and definitely will be the most comprehensive one. Not only will there be more tests, procedures (including several that will be performed only at this visit), and data gathering (in the form of a complete medical history), but there will be more time spent on questions (questions you have for the practitioner, questions he or she will have for you) and answers. There will also be plenty of advice to take in-on everything from what you should be eating (and not eating) to what supplements you should be taking to whether (and how) you should be exercising. So be sure to come equipped with a list of the questions and concerns that have already come up, as well as with a pen and notebook (or What to Expect When You're Expecting Pregnancy Organizer) to take notes with.
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 8); your cervix and uterus for signs and approximate age of the pregnancy. A pregnancy test (urine and blood) will most likely be ordered.
A complete history. To give you the best care possible, your practitioner will want to know a great deal about you. Come prepared by checking records at home or calling your primary care doctor to refresh your memory on the following: your personal medical history (chronic illness, previous major illness or surgery, known allergies, including drug allergies); nutritional supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbal, and so on) or medications (over-the-counter, prescription) you are presently taking or have taken since conception; your family medical history (genetic disorders, chronic diseases, unusual pregnancy outcomes); your personal gynecological history (age at first menstrual period, usual length of menstrual cycle, duration and regularity of menstrual periods); your personal obstetrical history (past live births, miscarriages, abortions2), as well as the course of past pregnancies, labors, and deliveries. Your practitioner will also ask questions about your social history (such as your age and occupation) and about your lifestyle habits (how you eat, whether or not you exercise, drink, smoke, or take recreational drugs) and other factors in your personal life that might affect your pregnancy (information about the baby's father, information on your ethnicity).
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 your weight (prepregnancy and present); inspection of arms and legs for varicose veins and edema (swelling from excess fluid in tissues) to serve as a baseline for comparison at subsequent visits; examination of external genitalia and of your vagina and cervix (with a speculum in place, as when you get a Pap smear); examination of your pelvic organs bimanually (with one hand in the vagina and one on the abdomen) and also possibly through the rectum and vagina; assessment of the size and shape of the bony pelvis (through which your baby will eventually try to exit).
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 Rh status (see page 29), hCG levels, and to check for anemia (see page 187)
- Urinalysis to screen for glucose (sugar), protein, white blood cells, blood, and bacteria
- Blood screens to determine antibody titer (levels) and immunity to such diseases as rubella
- Tests to disclose the presence of infections such as syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, chlamydia, and, very often, HIV
- Genetic tests for cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, Tay-Sachs, or other genetic disease, if appropriate (see page 45)
- A Pap smear for the detection of cervical cancer
- A blood sugar level test to check for any tendency toward diabetes in women with a family history of diabetes and those who have high blood pressure, have previously had an excessively large baby or one with birth defects, or who had gained excessive weight with an earlier pregnancy. (All women receive a glucose screening test for gestational diabetes at around 28 weeks; see page 266.) An opportunity for discussion. Here's the time to bring out that list of questions and concerns.
What You May Be Feeling
You may experience all of these symptoms at one time or another, or only one or two.
What's important to keep in mind from now on is that every woman and every pregnancy is different; few pregnancy symptoms are universal.
- Absence of menstruation (though you may stain slightly when your period would have been expected or when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus, around seven to ten days after conception)
- Fatigue and sleepiness
- Frequent urination
- Nausea, with or without vomiting, and/or excessive salivation
- Heartburn, indigestion, flatulence, bloating
- Food aversions and cravings
- Breast changes (most pronounced in women who have breast changes prior to menstruation, and possibly somewhat less pronounced if you've had babies before): fullness, heaviness, tenderness, tingling; darkening of the areola (the pigmented area surrounding the nipple). Sweat glands in the areola become prominent, looking like large goose bumps; a network of bluish lines appears under the skin as blood supply to the breasts increases (though, in some women, 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
Breaking the News
"When should we tell friends and family that we are expecting?"
This is one question only you can answer. Some expectant parents can't wait to tell everyone they know the good news (not to mention a fair number of strangers who happen to pass them in the street or sit next to them on the bus). Others tell only selectively at first, starting with those nearest and dearest (close relatives and friends, perhaps), and waiting until the condition is obvious before making the pregnancy common knowledge. Still others decide they'd rather put off issuing announcements until the third month has passed, just in case of miscarriage (especially if there's been a previous pregnancy loss).
So talk it over, and do what feels most comfortable. Just remember: in spreading the good news, don't forget to take the time to savor it as a twosome.
Telling the Boss
"No one at work knows I'm pregnant yet-and I'm not sure when and how I should tell them, especially my boss. I'm not sure how they'll react."
Since most expectant mothers are also members of the workforce, pregnancy protocol on the job has become an important issue for employees and employers alike. Official leave policies and benefits vary widely from company to company, as do unofficial policies of family-friendliness. In deciding when and how to broach the subject of your pregnancy with the powers that be at your company, you'll need to consider the following:
How you're feeling and whether you're showing. If morning sickness has you spending more time hovering over the toilet than sitting at your desk; if first trimester fatigue has you barely able to lift your head off your pillow in the morning; or if you're already packing a paunch that's too big to blame on your breakfast, you probably won't be able to keep your secret long. In that case, telling sooner makes more sense than waiting until your boss (and everyone else in the office) has come to his or her own conclusions. If, on the other hand, you're feeling fine and still buttoning your waistband with ease, you may be able to hold off on the announcement until later.
What kind of work you do. If you work under conditions or with substances that could be harmful to your pregnancy or your baby (see page 76), you'll need to make your announcement-and ask for a transfer or change of duties-as soon as you find out you're pregnant.
How work is going. A woman announcing her pregnancy at work may unfortunately-and unfairly-raise many red flags, including "Will she still have the stamina to produce while pregnant?" and "Will her mind be on work or on her belly?" and "Will she leave us in the lurch?" You may head off some of those concerns by making your announcement just after finishing a report, scoring a deal, winning a case, coming up with a great idea, or otherwise proving that you can be both pregnant and productive.
Whether reviews are coming up. If you're afraid your announcement might influence the results of an upcoming performance or salary review, wait until the results are in before spilling the beans. Keep in mind that proving you've been passed up for a promotion or raise based solely on the fact that you're expecting (and that you'll soon be a worker and a mother, not necessarily in that order) may be difficult.
Whether you work in a gossip mill. If gossip is one of your company's chief products, be especially wary. Should word-of-mouth of your pregnancy reach your boss's ears before your announcement does, you'll have trust issues to deal with in addition to the pregnancy-related issues. Make sure that your boss is the first to know-or, at least, that those you tell first can be trusted not to squeal.
What the family-friendliness quotient is. Try to gauge your employer's attitude toward pregnancy and family. Ask other women who have been pregnant on the job, if there are any (but keep your inquiries discreet). Check the policies on pregnancy and maternity leave in your copy of the company handbook (if there is one). Or set up a confidential meeting with someone in human resources or the person in charge of benefits. If the company has had a history of being supportive of mothers and mothers-to-be, you may be inclined to make your announcement sooner. Either way, you'll have a better sense of what you'll be facing.
Once you've decided when to make your announcement, you can take some steps to ensure that it's well received:
Know your rights. Pregnant women-and parents in general-have fewer rights in the United States than in most every other industrialized country. Still, some strides have been made on the federal level through the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family Medical Leave Act (see box above), and many others have been made voluntarily by forward-thinking, family-friendly companies. Become familiar with what the law and your company's policies say you're entitled to, so you'll know what you can and probably can't ask for. For instance, some companies offer paid leave, others unpaid. Still others allow you to use sick days or vacation days as part of your leave. All of this should be detailed in a company handbook, if there is one. Or, set up a confidential meeting with someone in human resources or whoever is in charge of benefits.
Put together a plan. Efficiency is always appreciated on the job, and being prepared invariably impresses people. So before you go in to make your announcement, have a detailed plan that includes how long you plan to stay on the job (barring any unforeseen medical problems, including premature labor), how long your maternity leave will be, how you plan to finish up business before you leave, and how you propose that any unfinished business be handled by others. If you would like to return part-time at first, now is when you should propose that. Writing up your plan will ensure you won't forget the details.
Set aside the time. Don't try to tell your boss the news when you're in a taxi on the way to a meeting or when she's got one foot out the door Friday night. Make an appointment to meet, so no one will be rushed or distracted. Try to make it on a day and at a time that is usually less stressful at your office. Postpone the meeting if things suddenly take a turn for the tense.
Accentuate the positive. Don't start your announcement with apologies or misgivings. Instead, let your boss know that you are not only happy about your pregnancy, but confident in your ability and committed in your plan to mix work and family.
Be flexible (but not spineless). Have your plan in place, and open it up to discussion. Then be ready to compromise (make sure there is room for negotiation built into your plan), but not to back down completely. Come up with a realistic bottom line and stick with it.
Set it in writing. Once you've worked out the details of your pregnancy protocol and your maternity leave, confirm it in writing so there won't be any confusion or misunderstanding later (as in "I never said that . . .").
Never underestimate the power of parents. If your company is not as family-friendly as you'd like, consider joining forces to petition for better parental perks. Realize, however, that you and other parents may be met with hostility by childless employees; as family policies become more generous, resentment tends to build among those who can't take advantage of these. Making sure that similar allowances are made for employees who must take time off to care for sick spouses or parents may help unite, rather than divide, the company.
"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're just not aware of the exertion. But it's there. For one thing, your body is 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. 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 practitioner hasn't restricted your activity and/or the work isn't overly strenuous or hazardous; see pages 76 and 248). 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 the effort:
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 Supermom-to-Be status. Getting adequate rest is more important than keeping your house white-glove-test clean or serving four-star dinners.
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. If they're old enough to pitch in, enlist them in household chores you normally do. (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 pay attention to it.)
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 possible. (If you choose to rest at lunch hour, make sure you have a chance to eat, too.) Napping when you're mothering full-time may also be difficult, but if you can time your rest with the children's naptime (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. Make sure your spouse is doing his fair share (or preferably more) of household chores, including laundry and marketing. Older children can help out, too. Accept your mother-in-law's offer to vacuum and dust the house when she's visiting. Let your folks take the older kids to the zoo on Sunday. Enlist a friend to baby-sit so you can have a night out occasionally.
Get an hour or two more sleep each night. Skip the eleven o'clock news and turn in earlier; ask your spouse 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 Pregnancy Diet requirements. And no matter how tired you're feeling, don't be tempted to rev up your body with caffeine and candy bars. The energy won't last 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 circulation or 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 do a pregnancy exercise or yoga routine. Paradoxically, too much rest and not enough activity can heighten fatigue. 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 190.
Though fatigue will probably ease up by month 4, you can expect it to return in the last trimester (could it be nature's way of preparing you for the long sleepless nights you will encounter 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 (see Anemia, page 187).
Table of Contents
Part 1: First Things First Chapter 1: Before You Conceive• Preconception Prep for Moms• Preconception Prep for Dads Chapter 2: Are You Pregnant?• What You May be Wondering About• Choosing and Working with Your Practitioner Chapter 3: Your Pregnancy Profile• Your Gynecological History• Your Obstetrical History• Your Medical History• Prenatal Diagnosis• First Trimester• First and Second Trimester• Second Trimester Chapter 4: Your Pregnancy Lifestyle• What You May be Wondering About• Complementary and Alternative Medicine Chapter 5: Nine Months of Eating Well• What You May be Wondering AboutPart 2: Nine Month & Counting Chapter 6: The First Month• Your Baby This Month• What You May be Feeling• What You Can Expect at Your First Prenatal Visit• What You May be Wondering About• Your Pampered Pregnancy Chapter 7: The Second Month• Your Baby This Month• What You May be Feeling• What You Can Expect at This Month’s Checkup• What You May be Wondering About• Weight Gain During Pregnancy Chapter 8: The Third Month• Your Baby This Month• What You May be Feeling• What You Can Expect at This Month’s Checkup• What You May be Wondering About• Pregnant on the Job Chapter 9: The Fourth Month• Your Baby This Month• What You May be Feeling• What You Can Expect at This Month’s Checkup• What You May be Wondering About• Exercise During Pregnancy Chapter 10: The Fifth Month• Your Baby This Month• What You May be Feeling• What You Can Expect at This Month’s Checkup• What You May be Wondering About• Sex and the Pregnant Woman Chapter 11: The Sixth Month• Your Baby This Month• What You May be Feeling• What You Can Expect at This Month’s Checkup• What You May be Wondering About• Childbirth Education Chapter 12: The Seventh Month• Your Baby This Month• What You May be Feeling• What You Can Expect at This Month’s Checkup• What You May be Wondering About• Easing Labor Pain Chapter 13: The Eighth Month• Your Baby This Month• What You May be Feeling• What You Can Expect at This Month’s Checkup• What You May be Wondering About• Breastfeeding Chapter 14: The Ninth Month• Your Baby This Month• What You May be Feeling• What You Can Expect at This Month’s Checkup• What You May be Wondering About• Prelabor, False Labor, Real Labor Chapter 15: Labor & Delivery• What You May be Wondering About• Childbirth• Stage One: Labor• Stage Two: Pushing and Delivery• Stage Three: Delivery of the PlacentaPart 3: Twins, Triplets & More Chapter 16: Expecting More than One• What You May be Wondering About• Multiple ChildbirthPart 4: After the Baby is Born Chapter 17: Postpartum: The First Week• What You May be Feeling• Getting Started Breastfeeding Chapter 18: Postpartum: The First 6 Weeks• What You May be Feeling• What You Can Expect at Your Postpartum Checkup• What You May be Wondering About• Getting Back Into Shape• Phase 1: Twenty-Four Hours After Delivery• Phase 2: Three Days After Delivery• Phase 3: After Your Postpartum CheckupPart 5: For Dads Chapter 19: Fathers are Expectant, Too• What You May be Wondering AboutPart 6: Staying Healthy When You’re Expecting Chapter 20: If You Get Sick• What You May be Wondering About• Medications During Pregnancy Chapter 21: If You Have a Chronic Condition• What You May be Wondering About• Getting the Support You Need Part 7: The Complicated Pregnancy Chapter 22: Managing a Complicated Pregnancy• Pregnancy Complications• Uncommon Pregnancy Complications• Childbirth and Postpartum Complications• If You’re Put on Bed Rest Chapter 23: Coping With Pregnancy Loss
Exclusive Author Essay
Some things about pregnancy never change. When the first edition of What to Expect when You're Expecting hit bookstores in 1985, pregnant women suffered from morning sickness, constipation, and leg cramps. In 2002 -- sorry, no good news here -- they still do. They experienced symptoms they'd never have associated with pregnancy, like forgetfulness and red palms; growth in places they'd never expected, like in their feet; and a range of emotions, from happiness to anxiety to apprehension to excitement, often within the same five minutes, that often made them doubt their sanity. They still do. They worried about their weight gain, their diet, the changing dynamics of their relationships, about labor and delivery, and most of all, about the health of their babies. They still do. They craved answers to their thousands of questions and reassurance for their thousands of worries. Guess what? They still do.
But as many things about pregnancy stay the same, at least as many don't.
In the nearly 19 years since I delivered a proposal for What to Expect when You're Expecting and a first baby (within about four hours of each other…it was a busy day), I've seen hundreds of changes. Changes not only in obstetrical practice but in the lifestyles of pregnant women and their partners (an important one being: those partners aren't necessarily their husbands anymore).
Most changes have been for the better. For instance, practitioners and their pregnant patients are getting along a lot better than they used to (or, as it's called it in the sandbox, they're "playing nicely"). Back in the late 1970s and early '80s, the climate in obstetrics was combative, often adversarial. Practitioners, usually obstetricians, tended to be inflexible in their practice, patients intractable in their birthing plans. Today, practitioners are for the most part far more responsive; patients, much more open-minded and better educated. The relationship is more likely to be a partnership -- a partnership that works together toward a shared goal (a healthy mother, a healthy baby), a partnership in which each partner contributes knowledge and insight based on what he or she knows best (practitioner: medicine; patient: her body). Another change is the fact that more of those partnerships are likely to be with midwives, who now deliver 9 percent of the babies born in the United States.
Recommendations about everything from prenatal diagnosis to sex to diet to exercise have changed. Take weight gain: When I was pregnant for the first time, gains of 70 pounds and more were the vogue. Sure, they still happen, but not usually with the practitioner's blessing. The majority of today's practitioners routinely recommend a more reasonable gain of 25 to 35 pounds for most women.
And because obstetrics, like all areas of medicine, is an ever-evolving science, the use of interventions during labor and delivery has evolved with it. Some procedures that were routine at hospital admission a generation ago, such as enemas and shaving of the pubic hair, have been pretty much abandoned; women today can wear their pubic hair any way they care to at delivery. Pain medication, which fell out of favor with the (re)popularization of natural childbirth, is back in style with a vengeance -- more than half of all delivering women now ask for an epidural by name. At the same time, complementary and alternative treatments -- from biofeedback for morning sickness to hypnosis and acupuncture for pain relief during labor -- once the province of fringe practitioners, have entered the mainstream of obstetrical practice. Cesarean rates are down from their all-time high in the 1980s, but they are creeping up once again (and are still considered way too high); vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is now on its way down after becoming almost standard; induction was down, now it's up again, though a backlash may soon bring it back down; and (dizzy yet?) episiotomies and fetal monitoring, routine when I was birthing babies (I had both procedures), are now used only when deemed necessary, which doesn't turn out to be all that often. Further reducing the need for interventions with their special brand of comfort, support, and care are doulas, birth attendants-for-hire who coach both mothers and fathers during delivery and who are showing up at more and more births.
Not only has how women given birth changed, but where. Birthing centers that cater to low-risk deliveries by midwives continue to proliferate, but the most dramatic differences are in hospital deliveries. Family-centered care is the norm -- big brothers and sisters are welcomed with fanfare and sibling classes; fathers aren't just coaching the birth but spending the night. While I had to fight for my birthing room (there were only one or two in many hospitals, offered on a first-come-first-served basis, and none at all in others) today's low-risk expectant mothers can expect to deliver in LDRs (labor-delivery-recovery) or LDRP (labor-delivery-recovery-postpartum) rooms that rival some hotel suites in luxury and convenience (except the room service isn't nearly as good). Jacuzzi, anyone?
Visit a maternity store, and you'll notice one of the most obvious changes: Pregnancy style is no longer an oxymoron. I spent my pregnancies, unhappily, in tentlike dresses that could sleep a family of four beneath their enormous pitch. Today's expectant mothers celebrate their swollen silhouettes in clothes designed to cling, not conceal. They flaunt their bellies proudly in bikinis and in baby tees that reveal more than a glimpse of baby-to-be. Even the expectant mother on the cover of What to Expect when You're Expecting has benefited from this revolution in maternity wear -- besides trading in her '80s perm for a sleek new bob for the third edition, she's retired her shapeless muumuu for a twin set and slacks. Even her shoes, though still sensible, are cuter. Now, that's progress!
Yes, a lot has changed -- in pregnancy and in What to Expect when You're Expecting -- in the 19 years since I first delivered a baby and a book proposal. Great changes, most of them. In fact, every once in a while, I start wondering if I should give pregnancy another chance again, fill up that nearly empty nest, just so I'd be able to experience all those changes for myself. Then I remember about the morning sickness. And the constipation. And the leg cramps. And the sleepless nights. And I think maybe I'll just keep writing about pregnancy instead. After all, some things never change. (Heidi Murkoff)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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".
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.
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!!
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.
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.
Everything in this book is worst case scenarios. If you want to avoid going crazy during your pregnancy, stay away from this book. Every possible problem is shed in the most disconcerting way, leading you to believe the worst in most situations.