Books/Resources for Getting Ready to Try and Have a Baby?
October 20, 2005 10:35 PM   Subscribe

S and I (mid/early 30s, XX/XY) thinking of TRYING TO HAVE A BABY soon. What are your favorite books/resources for the "We think we're ready to start trying in 2 months" stage?

I'm in professional school, she's working. Together for 9+ years. Financials not great but better than most six billion of us. Thanks for your help!
posted by prettyboyfloyd to Human Relations (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"What to expect when you're expecting" is a good one to have around. Someone always has a copy. It really depends on what issues concern you: medical, daily life, rearing advice. The most important advice I can give you is ignore 99% of what you hear. People pull out the horror stories when it comes to pregnancy, and it really doesn't help. Although one question to ask yourself: are you really ready for everything to own to have slober, poo or puke on it in a year? Or to look at the real issue, are you ready to have someone in your life that you will worry about until you die? Not be dismal, but its huge, HUGE! being a parent, and it can be overwhelming. Sorry for the ramble.
posted by slimslowslider at 10:42 PM on October 20, 2005

The secret is to bang the rocks together, guys.

Seriously, there's a "we think we're ready to start trying in 2 months" stage? Is there more to say than are you really, really sure that you're really, really ready? Of course not! Godspeed.
posted by fleacircus at 10:44 PM on October 20, 2005

Response by poster: We've got our shit worked out. Yes, we are ready for poo, puke, slobber, little sleep, teething, saving for xyz, planning field trips to the metal recycling place or the C&H factory, building treehouses, figuring out public/private school the extent that anyone can ever be ready for such a thing ;-) And the stage is, "we're ready to start trying in two months [period]". What to expect will be checked out.

I'm only asking this question because I've got like 15 'how to' books in the house and I don't feel like talking to grandma until after the first trimester is over.
posted by prettyboyfloyd at 10:58 PM on October 20, 2005

We've got our first one on the way, which was fully planned and all that, so I can speak from recent experience. What to expect when you're expecting (with the sedated chick on the front cover) is certainly a comprehensive look at it all. Apart from that I wouldn't bother with any books. Not because that book is utterly perfect, but really, don't bother too much with book learnin', most of the experience is in the doing, not the reading.

Medically, now is the time to cut down on cigarettes and alcohol, and start taking a folate supplement. Boys to keep their little men cool.
posted by wilful at 11:16 PM on October 20, 2005

First Aid For Infants, or something like that. Other than that, one book is as good as any other.
posted by mischief at 1:15 AM on October 21, 2005

If you're interested in the biology of what's going on, I really recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler. It's a tremendous overview of S's cycles, and how she (and you! You need to read it too!) can know what her level of fertility is. It's amazing what poor information people have about their cycles, and if you'll be "trying," it'll be important for you to do it right. [Holy crap. Its Amazon sales rank is 184. That's unreal.]

If you're interested in the social / emotional / etc. end of things, I seem to remember The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy (Vicki Iovine) as being really good and conversational. [Sales rank: 259!]

I wrote out a long paragraph here with some advice, but I'll summarize it in a sentence: I strongly encourage you to stick to the "not telling grandma" until after the first trimester. E-mail me if you want me to recreate the paragraph. Since you're asking for books here, I'll stick to books here.

Congratulations on making this decision. Life with a baby is so transformative. Humbling, too (maybe the entire point of my existence was to have this child!).

Have fun.
posted by Alt F4 at 2:13 AM on October 21, 2005

For the lady, I recommend good old fashioned BBT charts, and for the Pretty Boy may I suggest The Expectant Father? It was a goldmine for me.
posted by planetkyoto at 2:32 AM on October 21, 2005

I (kinda thankfully) have no experience with this, but just thought I would put it out there: What To Expect When You're Expecting isn't without some controversy. There was a NYTimes article on it a while back:

WHEN newly pregnant women visit Brigham Obstretrics and Gynecology, a practice affiliated with Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, they are handed a sheaf of primers on prenatal tests, morning sickness and the like. The tone is calm and brisk, but a page of recommended books carries a warning: "*WE * DO * NOT * RECOMMEND * 'What to Expect When You're Expecting.' "


But in its third decade the book has turned into a publishing conundrum: It is the most popular and widely trusted book in its category and yet is coming under such regular criticism that its authors are revising some of its key tenets. The reaction comes in part from expecting parents who call it a worst-case-scenario handbook. (Nicknames include "What to Freak Out About When You Are Expecting" and "What to Expect if You Want to Develop an Eating Disorder.") Though many parents swear by it, a startling number protest that, instead of emphasizing the wondrous process of fetal development, the book dwells mostly on complications, including the pedestrian (anemia), the more exotic ("incompetent cervix") and a catalog of horrors at the book's end ("uterine rupture").

posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:27 AM on October 21, 2005

We recently purchased Getting Pregnant by Anne Charlish. It has some good tips on nutrition, health, etc. for preparing your body(ies) for pregnancy and optimizing your chances of conception.
posted by medium format at 3:37 AM on October 21, 2005

You sound like very organized people, perhaps too organized. First of all, you may start trying in two months, but you won't necessarily be pregnant in 3, or 4, or 5, if you catch my drift, so be prepared for that. Second, once the baby is born, if you are so lucky, organization goes out the window, trust me. You have to improvise all day every day around the wants and needs of your baby, at least at first. So be prepared for that as well.
posted by sic at 4:05 AM on October 21, 2005

What to Expect... is for the regressive crowd. Go with The Baby Book if you are the least bit interested in progressive parenting.
posted by tom_g at 4:34 AM on October 21, 2005

Start taking a multivitmain now. It's critical to get enough folate in early pregnancy, to prevent neual tube defects. It's not a bad idea to bump up your exercise level a bit if you're not in great shape. Pregnancy is easier if you're healthier. Go out a lot and do some of the things you might not do once you've got a baby at home. Otherwise, have lots of great sex, so you're really good at it when it's time to reproduce.
posted by theora55 at 4:43 AM on October 21, 2005

I have What to Expect When You're Expecting, The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy, and The Baby Book.

What to Expect is good for in-depth discussion of what happens and all the bazillion things that can go wrong. It has a very neutral, scientific, and frequently scary tone. This is not a book I recommend for anyone who is on the nervous side of things. I stopped using this book about half way through my pregnancy.

I enjoyed The Girlfriend's Guide the most and actually read it from cover to cover. The author has some great bits of information for the expecting father too. Parts had me laughing. I read it once and didn't pick it up again.

The Baby Book is a great resource. Even if you disagree with the Sears approach to parenting, there is still tons of solid information presented in a way that doesn't make it scary. I continued to refer to this book well into my son's second year.
posted by onhazier at 5:06 AM on October 21, 2005

I also agree that the What to Expect series is not to be taken as the bible. One other problem with it is that it speaks so authoritatively about such things as crying it out that it doesn't make it clear that there are other approaches.

A good book for during pregnancy is Your Pregnancy Week by Week. (Though I've avoided their book on the first year of having the baby when a glance at it made it clear that they seemed to expect ferberizing your baby at x and such week.) But that is a good book to check out before conception if you're thinking about any health issues, and it's fun to watch the changing diagrams of the baby in progress.

I also would say that when you are expecting to check out the breastfeeding books a month or so before the due date. Ours came 3 weeks early and beforehand I had the attitude that having three books on breastfeeding was overkill if not absurd. I quickly devoured them after the baby arrived and I realized how many questions I had. One I like is cheezily called "So that's what they're for.."

And I second the Girlfriend's Guide series.
posted by Pattie at 6:15 AM on October 21, 2005

"What to expect..." makes it all sound so scary. I don't recommend it at all, especially not as your ONLY resource. It might be a little less scary in the context of other more friendly books.

I read stacks of books when I was pregnant. But I got the most out of talking to other (like-minded) parents. It's great to get perspective from lots of different people, but I think it's important to take anything the generations older than you say with a grain of salt. Medical stuff changes, philosophical stuff changes, and after years a lot of stuff fades in your memory. Talk to people who have had kids recently.

It's true that you might not get pregnant right away, so be prepared for that. But also be prepared for it to happen the very first time you don't use birth control. I know women in both categories (I was one that got pregnant the first try. Not the first month, either. The first try.).

I recommend taking lots of time now to go out together - just the two of you. Like to movies or dinner out. This becomes significantly more difficult for the first year or two of baby. Talk with each other. Have adult conversations about stuff that you care about. Have fun silly powerful loud sex. Make these good habits now.

The whole pregnancy/childbirth/rearing experience can put a lot of stress on a relationship. It's the most challenging job you'll ever do, and you never get a break and you have to do it together. But if you both make efforts to really help each other, and your priorities are in synch it's a beautiful amazing life changing experience that has the potential to deepen your bond to one another.
posted by raedyn at 6:27 AM on October 21, 2005

She should start taking a multivitamin with the right dose of folic acid in it if she isn't already.

It'd be a good idea to look around online at parenting websites (Dr. Spock, Dr. Sears, and so on) and start thinking about what parenting choices you're going to want to make, and discussing it with each other, so you get a feel for what you'll be compromising on and how closely your philosophies on raising children mesh. You won't necessarily hold to your initial choices, either - it'll be shaped by what you learn from others and how your experience unfolds - but you'll feel more prepared looking around at it now.

Have you considered going through midwives? You might want to find a local group. You can have an intro pre-pregnancy checkup done, discuss preparing for pregnancy and so on. Nurse-midwives are the most common in the US, and they do well-woman care (Pap smears, breast exams, birth control, family planning) in addition to prenatal and delivery. Nurse-midwives usually perform deliveries in hospitals. They will also be great resources for pregnancy, breastfeeding, and other baby information.

It's not a how-to but I found The American Way of Birth by Jessica Mitford a fascinating read. The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy is light reading, but reassuring and humorous. And for the third time in the past 24 hours (heh!) I'd recommend The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn - for the financials and for some interesting discussion on how children aren't as expensive to have and raise as people think they are.
posted by Melinika at 7:26 AM on October 21, 2005

Second vote for Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Amazing resource for figuring out what is actually going on and how to maximize or minimize your chances of pregnancy, depending on your preference at the time.
posted by true at 7:26 AM on October 21, 2005

I'd say that the biggest thing you might want to think about right now is what kind of birth she wants to have -- full hospital, birthing center hospital, birthing center, home, etc -- because that choice will affect your choice of care provider, and its easier to stick with the same one than to shop around when you're already 8 or 10 weeks along. Changing from (say, for example) a traditional OBY/GYN to a Midwife (for example) in the middle of your pregnancy can be needlessly stressful.

Having a care provider that you're happy with and comfortable with is (IMHO) crucial. This needs to be someone who provides the kind of physical and emotional care that the mom needs. Don't be afraid to make some appointments and interview some different care providers, to see who is right for you. Talk to friends who have babies and see who they used and what they liked/disliked about their experience. Many people think that there are no choices except for Traditional Hospital Visit or Home Birth, but in reality there are now in most areas a whole range of choices available between those two points.

Then, whomever you choose, get a full physical before you start trying, especially if you haven't had one in a while. If you're healthy and fit, there is a much better chance the pregnancy will be smooth and less stressful.

Also, I second (third?) the thing about not telling anyone until you've heard the baby's heartbeat (usually around 12-14 weeks). Having to "untell" people while you're having a miscarriage is the toughest thing to do -- and also, remember that a huge percentage of first pregnancies end in miscarriage. If this happens to you you didn't do anything wrong and there is nothing wrong with you.

Have fun and good luck.
posted by anastasiav at 7:34 AM on October 21, 2005

For some more fun (versus technical) reflection on prospective parenting, you can read chapters of "The Poo Bomb" and "Operating Instructions" to each other before you go to sleep at night.

Because, as I'm finding, the more you learn to laugh at these things now, the more tolerable the hard stuff will be and the more enjoyable the delightful stuff will be.
posted by jeanmari at 8:02 AM on October 21, 2005

If your wife enjoys drinking, she might want to think about cutting down.

I have friends who were quite traumatized by having to drop their considerable wine and cocktail habits "cold turkey." Much worse, I can think of a couple of women I know who were wracked with anxiety until their kids hit their toddler milestones, all because they'd gotten drunk a few times after their likely conception, but before they knew they were pregnant.
posted by MattD at 9:01 AM on October 21, 2005

Boxers rather than briefs. (DH was wearing briefs the first three months we tried to get pregnant; he changed to boxers, and presto! DD was on her way.) FYI: somewhere I read that it takes an average couple four months to get pregnant. If the female has been on the pill, it could take up to a year for her to regain her previous fertility levels. Good luck.
posted by cass at 9:24 AM on October 21, 2005

Oh, and don't watch shows like "Maternity Ward" on TLC or the Discovery channel or whatever channel it's on. THOSE are way scarier than "What to Expect..." Also, don't watch that old "ER" episode where that woman has preeclampsia, or read the fiction book "Midwife."
posted by cass at 9:26 AM on October 21, 2005

I am absolutely amazed that so many of the posters above found What to Expect When You're Expecting to be scary. I had the opposite reaction - I found it to have a really comforting and soothing tone. Yes, they present all the worst case scenarios - but always also say that this is most probably nothing you have to worry about. Personally, I would much rather be aware of things that could go wrong and their warning signs than freak out from things that could be absolutely normal.

I would strongly recommend that you and S read What to Expect now, rather than when you're actually pregnant. That way you'll be prepared and you'll have it around for reference, but you won't be so emotionally involved that you get freaked out by it all. Maybe that's why the posters above thought it was a scary book...?

Anyway, this is about what you should know now:
- Folic acid - she should start taking supplements (or eat high folate foods) now, before conception.
- Drinking/smoking/drugs - if you or she are addicted or habitual users, it's a good idea to cut out now, so the transition is easier.
- Get in shape - everything about pregnancy is easier the better shape you're in (generalizing here).
- No hot tubs/saunas for the guy. Masturbate regularly, but not obsessively. No extremely tight pants, and boxers are better than briefs.
- Charting periods - she should keep track of her periods and ovulation.
- Start thinking about the type of care/delivery you (she) would like. You'll be going to a midwife/OBGYN very soon after you discover you're pregnant, so it's good to have done your homework beforehand.

And finally, be flexible. I had my heart set on a number of things, including waterbirth, a midwife, and a birthing center - and then I found out I'm having twins. So now I can't do any of that and I had to scramble a bit to find a doctor I like. Basically, nothing about this pregnancy has been what I thought it would be! So try to stay flexible about it all.

Most of all, GOOD LUCK!
posted by widdershins at 9:36 AM on October 21, 2005

I found to be a great resource with articles ranging from pre-pregnancy to parenthood. Also, their message boards are quite helpful for all your first time pregnancy questions. For pleasure reading, check out the recent "Peanut" series on The Morning which has some humorous and truthful observations from a first time father as his wife goes through pregnancy. As far as more general pre-preganacy and pregnancy advice, I'd say relax and enjoy it and don't sweat the small stuff. Good luck!
posted by peppermint22 at 9:45 AM on October 21, 2005

I heartily agree with Melinika's suggestion that you start talking about parenting philosophy. They can be contentious issues, so it's worthwhile to figure out if you're on the same page and where you can compromise. Be prepared to be flexible. As your go through the experience you will both change your mind about stuff, but it's usefull to get a feel for where you're at.
posted by raedyn at 10:30 AM on October 21, 2005

I read some of What to Expect, but really only the first chapter or two would be useful right now, and what I learned can be summed up as follows.

S should get her immunities checked at the doctor and get any shots or boosters needed (because she not only shouldn't do that after getting pregnant, there are some that she would need to get and then wait two or three months to get pregnant).

S should visit the dentist if she hasn't recently and get any needed dental work done (I think this is because she wouldn't be able to get numbing shots after pregnant).
posted by mbrubeck at 10:32 AM on October 21, 2005

I highly recommend Spiritual Midwifery, perhaps not as a preparation to getting pregnant, but in preparation for giving birth. It's very hippie-dippy, but if you can get past it, is an utterly fantastic book. I give it to anyone I know who is pregnant, and have folks tell me how it beautifully influenced their perspective on birth.
posted by Specklet at 12:18 PM on October 21, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks all. Maybe in a year or two I'll have some questions about diapers!
posted by prettyboyfloyd at 10:09 PM on October 21, 2005

Folate, sure, but also iron and calcium; and if she's taking a multi, make sure it has 100% of its vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. Other carotenoids, such as vit A itself, cause birth defects in a dose-dependent fashion, and the investigators couldn't find a lower limit to the dose that caused these effects.

Things to stop taking would be certain prescription medications and the ubiquitoxins such as tobacco, ethanol, cocaine, heroin.

It's OK to find an OB now, and make some decisions about how much prenatal care (ultrasounds? amnio?) and what kind of delivery (home? hospital? birthing center?) you want.

Good luck!
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:02 AM on October 22, 2005

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