What books were the most useful to you during pregnancy?
November 17, 2011 3:59 PM   Subscribe

What books were the most useful to you during pregnancy?

I've just learned that one of my good friends is pregnant. She and her husband have recently moved to Europe, and she's both excited and a bit freaked out by going through this so far from home. I'd like to send her a good pregnancy book or two to help her understand what's happening with her body and the baby, but not being a mom myself I have no idea what's good. I've heard mixed thing about What to Expect When You're Expecting and the Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy. Would you recommend one of those anyway? What else is good? Bonus if it's available on the Kindle.
posted by donajo to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a recent post about books about pregnancy. As for me, my absolute go to book was The Pregnancy Bible. It follows a baby's and woman's changes from week to week (day to day, in some cases), and was very informative without being condescending.
posted by jenny76 at 4:03 PM on November 17, 2011

I'd suggest getting a couple books. We have an old (circa 1975) Dr. Spock book and a current edition of ... something else (title forgotten), but between those two, and the internet at large, we've become comfortable with most things experienced in pregnancy, and now with our new little guy. More likely than not, each book will have it's own lean on certain topics, and mom & baby won't fit examples perfectly, leading to some concerns or discomfort at suggestions or information.

In short: more options and information can lead to a more balanced, comfortable experience.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:12 PM on November 17, 2011

Our doctor told us to use Your Pregnancy Week by Week.
posted by gerryblog at 4:16 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

"What to Expect..." rightfully deserves its nickname "What to Panic About..." in my opinion. It also comes from a very American perspective that might be at serious odds on certain issues with the probably excellent care she'll get in her new country. I haven't read "The Girlfriend's Guide"

Beyond my sort of particular interests in making decisions about birth and stuff, the only books I've really been glad to have have been From the Hips and Your Baby and Child, both of which I found gentle and funny and willing to credit the reader with autonomy and intelligence.

I sort of want to suggest you get her something else though, books are really personal and many of them are quite prescriptive and particular to one point of view. She probably knows what kind of thing she needs and will get it herself.
posted by crabintheocean at 4:20 PM on November 17, 2011

While you're at it, you could give her husband The Birth Partner (available on Kindle), which will help him be an informed and supportive partner in a new place.
posted by googly at 4:53 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I came to recommend week by week.

I also like to give new parents nurture shock and the wonder weeks.

Another good book specifically about being pregnant is the big book of birth (sorry for no links, on an unfamiliar mobile device)
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:56 PM on November 17, 2011

I recommend: anything you like the look of by Penelope Leach (she is very sensible, reassuring and fond of babies); any illustrated book about being preganant, I had a nice one by Dr Miriam Stoppard, and I see on Amazon she has a bunch of books that look good; but hands down, the one I liked best was How Not To Be a Perfect Mother which has decent amounts of actual helpful advice and LOTS about how to not worry all the time, or be brainwashed by all the people who want you to be terrified and panicky. And it is very funny.
posted by thylacinthine at 5:08 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am in the avoid camp for What to Expect and Girlfriend's Guide.

I enjoyed From the Hips, Nurture shock, and The Happiest Baby on the Block. I also refer to Dr. Sears' Baby Book a lot.
posted by LyndsayMW at 5:24 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Mayo Clinic Guide was the only one I liked. Clear, detailed medical information, some photos and illustrations, and practical advice.
posted by tetralix at 5:44 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

We read a lot, and liked Robin Barker's Baby Love, and Harvey Karp's Happiest Baby on The Block.

Both were pragmatic, rather than dogmatic; information and evidence-based rather than anecdote and "experience" based; and both avoided anything that could make first time parents feel more guilty or anxious about anything they're doing - or not doing - highlighting that lots of people have pregnancies, then babies, in lots of different ways and the vast majority turn out okay. This was a stark contrast to other books. We nicknamed "What to Expect", What To Expect When You're Expecting THE WORST! It's like a catalogue of incredibly rare and destructive genetic and other conditions that could harm your baby. Terrible.
posted by smoke at 5:44 PM on November 17, 2011

I loved "What to Expect" and "Girlfriend's Guide." I don't remember any scary stuff in "What to Expect" at all. I don't know what people are referring to when they say that. I should go find it and re-read it.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:12 PM on November 17, 2011

We read quite a few of them, and really the one pregnancy book I was most grateful that we received as a gift was What to Expect When You're Expected, a pitch-perfect satire of the original. It helped defuse some of the direness of the other volume. We actually read sections of it aloud nightly to baby boluda in utero just for some needed stress relief.
posted by dr. boludo at 7:19 PM on November 17, 2011

The best advice I ever heard about books on pregnancy and parenting is: pick one. Any one, but only one.

We did not do this, and I wish we had.
posted by griffey at 7:34 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. Not so much about being pregnant, but about giving birth. I give it to all my pregnant friends.
posted by natness at 7:57 PM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

I am not a parent. I did, however, work in a bookstore for 4 years and What to Expect When You're Expecting was BY FAR the most common request among the pregnancy books.
posted by booksherpa at 8:20 PM on November 17, 2011

This might be an odd choice, but the single most useful book to me as a new parent was Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. It's a journal of her first year of motherhood, and it's breathtaking in its honesty and rawness. I felt so validated and so much less alone for having read it that this is now default the "Yay, you had a baby!" gift for me.
posted by MeghanC at 9:19 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

...balls, I just realized that I misread the question, which was specifically for books during pregnancy. Reading comprehension fail--mea culpa.
posted by MeghanC at 9:20 PM on November 17, 2011

Most valuable in the long run? A blank journal and a nice pen.

I really liked The Hip Mama Survival Guide, but mostly because the cloying sweetness of all the other books made me regret getting pregnant.
posted by Gucky at 11:18 PM on November 17, 2011

It's not exactly a scientific tome, but Let's Panic About Babies! has been a very popular pregnancy gift at my bookstore. And the authors are really nice.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:17 AM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

"What to Expect" is fine, but the best read for me were the million pregnancy/baby/mommy blogs out there. Pregnancy, birth and child-rearing are such personal experiences, and it really helped me to read about the massive range of what people felt and thought.
posted by hmo at 6:31 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I want give a +1 griffey said about choosing one book and sticking with it. I started with two but would make my head spin looking back and forth between them, comparing and thinking too hard. It was much less stressful when I put one down for good.

I settled on the Mayo Clinic book, which was great because it is sciencey and not at all patronizing (my problem with What to Expect).
posted by keeo at 8:55 AM on November 18, 2011

Where is she in her pregnancy? Usually by the time you announce it you've read a lot of the pregnancy books. That said, I liked Mayo Clinic's Guide, but it may have been weird getting it as a gift. The Big Book of Birth was a helpful read, but I wouldn't give it to someone until they're very firmly in their second semester. She may appreciate more good fiction books and safe teas she can enjoy (roobios, peppermint) as it's a great time to read and relax while you still have time.

While I already have it (just bought it), I might have appreciated Baby 411 as a gift, or a nice pregnant-lady safe body/belly lotion.
posted by ejaned8 at 11:03 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another good prengnacy-related book for a gift that I saw mentioned on this thread is Birth Day.
posted by ejaned8 at 11:08 AM on November 22, 2011

I understand the recommendation to choose one book and stick with it (although we didn't, and I'm happy that we didn't), but that's advice for the expecting parents. The OP can't choose one book for her friend to stick to! That's why I suggest something other than books, or failing that, books that don't have a strong philosophy or attempt to be bibles.
posted by crabintheocean at 2:28 PM on November 22, 2011

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