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I'm pregnant but I still have a brain.
November 3, 2011 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Please suggest pregnancy resources for a scientific, geeky, intellectual, academic woman.

I'm newly pregnant (4 weeks since fertilization - yay!). I'm also an academic and a scientist. Most of what I've found to read about pregnancy so far lacks intellectual rigor, is bathed in pink, and has a condescending tone. I had to go to the medical library and get some textbooks on human embryology and fetal development for a technical explanation of what the hell is going on in my abdomen. I'm also looking at the scientific literature, but that can mean wading through a lot of papers to find the answer to a specific question.

I've read previous pregnancy questions to learn what I can; these two questions have been helpful. Because my pregnancy is very new and I'm old enough to have a significant risk of miscarriage, I'm not talking about being pregnant with a lot of friends at the moment. But it's pretty consuming to be going through all these physical changes, and I want to learn more. I'm particularly interested in books and online resources. Things I would love suggestions for:
- pregnancy/parenting online communities where the participants are literate and don't use acronyms and emoticons in every sentence. (Is there by any chance a pregnancy.metafilter.com that I don't know about?)
- websites/books with good explanations of the science and physiology of pregnancy and embryonic development
- websites/books with good, scientifically based recommendations for a healthy pregnancy
- websites/books with advice on how to figure out what kind of birth experience you want (in case I get that far)
- geeky pregnant women or moms willing to trade email with me
- advice on how to deal with pregnancy culture that seems intent on treating me like a complete moron

What do you suggest?
posted by medusa to Science & Nature (19 answers total) 79 users marked this as a favorite
 
Professor Mommy. NOW.
Nurtureshock is om.
posted by k8t at 11:50 AM on November 3, 2011


From one of those threads, I also recommend What's going on in there.

My only caveat is that there is a lot of 'how things can go wrong', which depending on your personal mental state might not be the best thing to have going through your head for 9 months. In any event, it's a great book to have around just for the focus on infant development.
posted by true at 11:57 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mayo's guide to a health pregnancy is OK (don't read the 'complications' section all at once, for maximum ease of mind). From other threads, I'm planning on picking up "Guide to caring for your newborn" and "Baby 411", but haven't read those yet.

For forums, mothering.com is the best I've found so far (it has a focus on natural parenting, but not overly), but less populated than babycenter.com (which is the opposite of what you want). I just recently subscribed to working mother's RSS feeds for pregnancy.

ps. I'd be open to mefi messages; I'm going to the pregnancy bit myself; about 2 months ahead of you.
posted by ejaned8 at 12:00 PM on November 3, 2011


Actually "Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month, Fifth Edition" is the book I got free from my oby-gyn. (If you haven't had your first appointment, may want to see what they give you there before you buy it.)
posted by ejaned8 at 12:05 PM on November 3, 2011


Oh, yes. I spent a fair amount of time on PubMed looking stuff up, because everywhere else was so *icky* and unscientific.

I enjoyed the book Parenting for Primates. Not so much an instruction manual, and doesn't get into pregnancy so much, but it talks about how parenting works in many primate and human societies and compares that to what's defined as "normal" in western society. Really interesting stuff.

The Pregnancy Instruction Manual is at least 20% joke, but it did actually seem to have less of an agenda, and I found the overall design more comforting than pink frilliness.

Dealing with pregnancy culture: Working with medicalized midwives helped, on that end--they listen to what you say and will find references when you ask for them. Just acting like the same person I've always been seemed to help people talk to me like a human and not an incubator. Approaching it like an alien culture prevented me from losing my cool too much.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:14 PM on November 3, 2011


YMMV with mothering.com. Have always found it to be overpopulated with people who, say, do not believe in germ theory.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:17 PM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


I thought the most thorough, informative and unbiased book about all birth options was The Big Book of Birth by Erica Lyon. I really liked the approach of maximizing successful outcomes no matter what type of birth you need, and minimizing the side effects that come with interventions. When my non-medicated labor turned into a C-section, I felt calm and prepared.
posted by xo at 12:20 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought The Pregnancy Bible was quite good. It discusses and illustrates what's going on in utero week by week. It explained everything rationally and matter of factly, and the writing wasn't at all condescending or alarmist, unlike a lot of other pregnancy books (I'm looking at you, What to Expect When You're Expecting).
posted by jenny76 at 12:25 PM on November 3, 2011


As far as online communities go, I vastly preferred Altdotlife.com to mothering.com, for the same reason as chesty_a_arthur--for someone with a background in science, the level of woo on mothering.com was pretty intense even though I was down with unmedicated childbirth, doulas, etc.. I get the impression that the average age on altdotlife is somewhere north of thirty and the average education is somewhere past college. Lots of scientists/academics. You will find lots of reading suggestions there.

Uh, how much detail do you want in your books on development? If you're checking out books on embryology, you're probably not going to get much more detailed than that. A standard obstetrics textbook like Williams Obstetrics is going to be pretty detailed. It's pricy but maybe you could rent it or just read the sections you're interested in. I also liked What's Going on in There? but it's mostly deals with post-birth neurological development.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 12:31 PM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well, at the risk of self-linking, (though I'm not linking to any of my stuff) I write sometimes for The Unnecesarean. Jill, the blog owner/main writer is a stats geek with a feminist/best practice focus.

She obviously concentrates on c-sections, but also talks a lot about the politics of what happens in delivery rooms and how that relates to actual science in regards to pregnancy/delivery. Some of her commenters are warm/fuzzy types, but not all and she herself is not like that.

Also RH Reality Check does a lot of good work on birth issues, treatment, obviously also about politics, but about science too.

I also recommend Childbirth Connection for basic information, as well as Our Bodies, Our Blog's pregnancy/childbirth archives.

There are not enough places for geeky pregnant women to hang out, it's true. However, even the squishy, emoticon-laden message boards can helpful if, for example, you have a really weird symptom or issue or fear that's not addressed in your baby books. Often there's someone else there who has had it too. Not everyone on those boards is a antivax homeopathy-loving type.
posted by emjaybee at 12:32 PM on November 3, 2011


See these eMedicine articles, which are written for physicians but generally accessible. The article on Common Pregnancy Complaints and Questions should be a good starting point. Many articles are on specific disorders, but there are some others on general topics, like Prenatal Nutrition, Normal Delivery of the Infant


Another source of scientific reviews of specific topics is the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee Opinions. Unfortunately, they are not accessible to the public on the ACOG website, but there's a list here and you can find some of them reprinted by Googling. However the Canadian equivalent are here.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:46 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My friend and fellow medical librarian (researching medical things to death is our job!) recently had a baby and really enjoyed Birth Day -- written by a pediatrician, it goes into the weird and amazing things associated with birth, historically to present day. She liked it enough that she suggested that I would like it, even though I'm not now nor ever been pregnant. I only just started reading, but it is enjoyable. Not necessarily the rigorous academic writing you imply wanting, but still good.
posted by southpaw at 1:00 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Penelope Leach. She's not warm and fuzzy and gives good advice.

Let's Panic About Babies.

And, not to be harsh:

pregnancy/parenting online communities where the participants are literate and don't use acronyms and emoticons in every sentence.

Once you have a kid, you find yourself interacting with all sorts of people. Some of them, despite seeming completely different from you, will have valuable wisdom to share. Sometimes, overlooking the posting style can reap rewards.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:13 PM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


- pregnancy/parenting online communities where the participants are literate and don't use acronyms and emoticons in every sentence. (Is there by any chance a pregnancy.metafilter.com that I don't know about?)

AskMeFi is as good as any, especially if you filter by tags or categories.

- websites/books with good explanations of the science and physiology of pregnancy and embryonic development

- websites/books with good, scientifically based recommendations for a healthy pregnancy


Reading papers is the only answer here if you're unsure of something. We don't know who you would trust to summarize research for you, and that's about all any pregnancy book does, pink or no.

- websites/books with advice on how to figure out what kind of birth experience you want (in case I get that far)

Again, pick the people you trust if you want an opinion. If you want to research them yourself, take all the names you find here or here and read the primary sources. I'm sure you could just ask a question here with snowflake details and get an answer that satisfies you, too.

- geeky pregnant women or moms willing to trade email with me

I know a few.

- advice on how to deal with pregnancy culture that seems intent on treating me like a complete moron

Don't reciprocate.
posted by michaelh at 1:47 PM on November 3, 2011


OffBeatMama.com

My advice is to stop focusing on what can go wrong and start planning for what can go right. Watch the "Business of Being Born." "Pregnant in America." Maybe "What Babies Want"... if you can ignore the bit of woo in the middle about "re-birth". Pregnancy, contrary to common opinion, is a totally natural state of being for a woman's body. Your body (yes, yours) was made to give birth to that baby. The research supports the natural way of doing things every time (yep, I've looked). Look into getting a doula. I always recommend at least interviewing a home birth midwife, even though home birth isn't for everyone or every situation. You can learn valuable information from midwives experienced in natural birth (even if you decide you want an epidural or decide that induction or c-section is right for you). Stuff your OB would never tell you, even if he or she knew about it. (sorry if this isn't what you are looking for- I, too, am a researcher by nature and sometimes find myself bogged down in the negatives, when babies and being pregnant are inherently positive)
posted by LyndsayMW at 3:02 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I liked what I read of Making Babies, and I am loving the pregnancy-related posts on Context and Variation (poke around for links to her discussion of her IVF experiences, especially).

I am due in late January and had a very hard time not wanting to throw most of the pregnancy books I tried to read across the room (bathed in pink, as you said, and also bathed in some version of social reality from 1952). As for people's inane advice, I smile and nod and say, "Thank you so much! I'll totally keep that in mind!" I have doubtless now agreed to practically every childrearing method on earth as a result, but it amuses me and shuts people up much more quickly than arguing with them.

Also feel free to get in touch (assorted contact info on my profile)--I've found pregnancy fascinating (well, aside from the parts that are irritating) and am irked at how little actual scientific information there seems to be about it.
posted by newrambler at 3:57 PM on November 3, 2011


I enjoyed My Mother Wears Combat Boots (not necessarily scientific but it was a breath of fresh air.

I am also a fairly geeky minded woman who is currently pregnant (6 months). I've also gone through a miscarriage. Feel free to mefi mail me.
posted by HMSSM at 4:24 PM on November 3, 2011


The forums on the website for Taking Charge of Your Fertility seem to be populated with a lot of intelligent and mindful women. Lurking around and participating a little helped me get through two very short pregnancies and two very unexpected miscarriages. I'm now 5 months pregnant and part of one of the "pregnancy buddy groups" in there. I suggest you go take a look.

I'm also available for Memail if you want. Congrats on the pregnancy, try not to worry about anything that's out of your hands, just eat healthy, think healthy, and celebrate EACH DAY you're pregnant. One day at a time.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:36 PM on November 3, 2011


I realize this is a little late, but for all the women reading this in the future I thought I'd jump in and add a vote for Sandra Steingraber's book Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood (steingraber.com/books/having-faith). As a scientist and a poet, she has the most luminous prose.
posted by eglenner at 3:10 PM on March 20, 2012


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