Books to prepare us for making babies?
January 23, 2013 9:16 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are planning to start trying to conceive in the next few months, and being academic bookish types, would like some books on the whole process. Specifically, we're interested in fertility issues (we're in our mid-30s) and generally the logistics of the whole process - prenatal nutrition, choosing a doctor and a hospital, preparing for the kid, and so on. My personal preference is for books that are more detailed (citations to back things up are great) rather than touchy-feely.
posted by pombe to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
You definitely want to buy a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
posted by town of cats at 9:29 PM on January 23, 2013 [13 favorites]

The Better Baby Book: How to Have a Healthier, Smarter, Happier Baby

A prenatal guide that draws on the latest genetic research to give you a complete program of specific nutrition and environmental lifestyle changes that can help you have a better baby. The book is based on epigenetics and shows how the environment interacts with your genes, affecting which genes are expressed or "turned on". It shows you the important steps you can take to improve preconception nutrition and reduce toxins in your home and body to consciously help your child be healthy, smart, and strong.

Hope that helps.
posted by queue_strategy at 9:45 PM on January 23, 2013

I came here on the off-chance that nobody had yet mentioned TCOYF. Which, of course, they had. I was sub-fertile in my early thirties, more so in my mid-thirties, and the information in TCOYF helped SIGNIFICANTLY reduce the faffing about needed to get things moving and get (and, in my case, stay) pregnant.
posted by KathrynT at 10:22 PM on January 23, 2013

Early 30s first-time mom of an 8-week old here. And fellow bookish type.

To expand on the Taking Charge of Your Fertility (TCOYF) recommendation, the book will explain how to use daily observations of basal body temperature and cervical mucus to learn your cycle, including when you ovulate. For example, I learned that I typically ovulate on day 10-12 of my cycle, so waiting for the textbook day 14 would be too late. Especially because you are in your mid-30s, you'll want to start using TCOYF to chart cycles from the very beginning, like even before you start trying in earnest. The general guideline is to wait through a year of trying before seeking extra help, but based on your age and the data in your charts, you can probably go in after six months.

To track the data, sign up for a free account at Fertility Friend and if you have an iPhone, get the free FF Mobile app. If you don't have an iPhone, they have a mobile-friendly page for entering data. I loved having the data and the charts. (Side benefit: it allowed me to keep drinking until I knew that I had ovulated, and then if the temperature dropped again, I knew my period would be coming and that I could start drinking again.)

I never found a pregnancy book I really liked. I had What to Expect When You're Expecting, but I didn't love the trying-too-hard-to-be-breezy tone. Whatever, though, it had the basic information and I was able to consult Dr. Google from there. Just stick to actual medical sites like the Mayo Clinic rather than sites like the Babycenter forums.

For choosing doctor/hospital, ask around. And if there are any in your area, definitely check out any practices that have midwives. I went to a combination midwife/doctor practice, which meant I could mainly use the midwife side and if any complications came up, I could easily transition to the doctor side. I found that in general the midwives were able to give more time at each appointment and were a bit more forthcoming with information rather than just waiting for me to ask questions. The midwives told me they found that the "older" first-time moms tended to prefer the midwife approach because they like to have a lot of information and be more active participants in the process. Add on our academic bookish-ness and I think you may like that too. (YMMV of course.)

No matter what books/sources you use, try to keep in mind that with pregnancy there is a very wide range of normal. You'll worry a lot less this way. I can't emphasize that enough.

For prepping and taking care of a baby, I found a recommendation for Heading Home with Your Newborn here on the green and it is wonderful. It also takes the "wide range of normal" approach, because what none of the other books say is that Your Baby May Vary. In reality, your baby WILL vary.

Good luck!
posted by scarnato at 10:31 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

The thinking woman's guide to a better birth may be out of date but I found dead it helpful... It actually cited research! Perhaps it has been updated (my son is now 12)

I did find the studies tended to be more about the US medical system, but also my experience was practices had improved in several cases that were flagged in the book (I.e. Not walking and drinking when induced was not the practice for my labour... ) I mention this because worry about problems cited in the literature can be unhelpful, and sometimes out of date, so ask lots about practices where you are).
posted by chapps at 10:36 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

You may want to check out The Baby Book by Dr. Sears (actually, by Dr's Sears and Sears, a husband and wife team with 8 children). While not a book, I found Fairhaven Health online a helpful resource for fertility supplements/info on what helps boost fertility for women and men.
posted by sassy mae at 12:02 AM on January 24, 2013

I would actually advise holding off on the fertility books until you see whether things just work themselves out after trying for a month or two. I'm the book-ish type who enjoys being able to make things work algorithmically, and I was going to buy a book and maybe an Android app to keep meticulous track of things, but then we tried for a month and the problem solved itself.

There are fertility books that also handle pre-natal stuff, but you might be better served with a strictly pre-natal book that goes into a little more depth (I second queue_strategy'sz recommendation).
posted by Mayor West at 5:15 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. I read several pregnancy books, and this one was my favorite.
posted by Safiya at 7:00 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

In terms of nutrition while trying to conceive, I really like Nina Planck's Real Foods for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods. It is backed up by TONS of research, and while she veers a little too far into the Weston A. Price territory for my tastes, most of her information about what to eat before and during pregnancy is great.

For once you take home the little bugger: Michel Cohen's The New Basics is the antidote to What To Expect When You're Expecting. He's very laid back about a lot of stuff and won't freak you out with needlessly panicking passages about diseases and concussions.

Dr. John Medina's Brain Rules for Baby is quite interesting from a neurological/emotional standpoint, and far, far easier to get through than Lise Eliot's What's Going On In There? which I found a bit dull as a non-scientific layperson.
posted by zoomorphic at 7:23 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I really love Pregnancy and Birth: Your Questions Answered, which I thought was pretty much the only book you need for the planning stages (although it's less about fertility than about pregnancy) and is blessedly free of fear-mongering. After the kid arrives, Baby 411 is about the only book you need for the next year. Really, we had tons and thought most of the rest were dreck.
posted by acm at 7:25 AM on January 24, 2013

Baby Bargains was very helpful for reviews of baby products/furniture and for knowing which things we needed and which might be a waste of money.
posted by trillian at 7:35 AM on January 24, 2013

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