Having a baby is a big adventure, and the right pregnancy books can help you prepare for it in the same way that the right travel books can help you prepare for a big trip. And just like travel books, the best first-time pregnancy books give you the information you need in a format that most appeals to you.
Most first-time pregnancy books focus on what you can expect during the nine months of pregnancy, your labor and delivery and the first few months of motherhood. Some popular books are designed as serious reference books with heavy-duty indexes that let you look up specific concerns as they arise, like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel. Others, are humorous first-person accounts of pregnancy and childbirth, like “Belly Laughs” by Jenny McCarthy. If you’re like most first-time moms, you may want a variety of books to guide you through your pregnancy.
Pregnancy books come in a number of formats. The best one for you is the one that you like the best. Many women like books designed to cover one week of pregnancy at a time since they provide information in quick, digestible sections. “Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy” by the Mayo Clinic and “Your Pregnancy Week By Week” by Glade Curtis are set up this way. Other books are more narrative and focus on a single issue at a time — such as pregnancy fashion, coping with pregnancy problems like morning sickness and preparing for labor. You’ll find this format in books like “The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy” by Vicki Iovine and “The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth” by Sheila Kitzinger.
If you have strong feelings about a certain issue in pregnancy, look for a book that supports your philosophy. For instance, if you’re committed to a natural birth, you may be drawn to a book like “Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices and Take Back the Birth Experience” by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. If you’re committed to breastfeeding, you may want to prepare by reading “The Nursing Mother’s Companion” by Kathleen Huggins.
Many pregnancy books focus understandably on the mom-to-be, but first-time dads may be thankful for a resource, too. If you’re shopping for a book for an expecting dad, look for one that suits his reading style. Serious, research-oriented dads may appreciate information-rich books like “The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be” by Armin Brott or “Crib Notes for the First Year of Fatherhood: A Survival Guide for New Fathers” by Everett De Morier, while dads who like a laugh will probably enjoy “She’s Having a Baby — and I’m Having a Breakdown: What Every Man Needs to Know — and Do — When the Woman He Loves Is Pregnant” by James Douglas Barron or “What to Expect When Your Wife Is Expanding: A Reassuring Month-by-Month Guide for the Father-to-Be, Whether He Wants Advice or Not” by Thomas Hill.
Pregnancy books can be helpful, but they should never replace advice from your health care provider. Your care giver is familiar with the specifics of your particular pregnancy, so if you have questions or concerns, check with her as well as consulting your books.