Book of the Week/Ask Design Mom: Books for the Expectant Mother

November 9, 2006

Another query for Design Mom:

“I have an anonymous question: can you recommend any books for new or soon-to-be mom’s? I’ve looked online at everything from the What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Dr. Sear’s… and it stretches from pregnancy know-how to cookbooks to pregnancy planners. It’s crazy!

Anyway, from a mother of five, I’d love to know what you recommend (or not recommend). And can you keep this post anonymous? I’m only four weeks pregnant and literally no one knows.”

First of all, BIG CONGRATULATIONS! There’s nothing like that first pregnancy. It’s all you can think about. When people are talking to you, you nod and mumble agreement, but the whole conversation you’re thinking, “Wow, I’m pregnant. I feel funny. I wonder if that’s the baby or indigestion? I’m so hungry. I’m pregnant. There’s an actual baby growing inside me. I wonder if I’m showing. . .”

And you’re right that there are a million books out there. I can’t even pretend to keep up. But I have a few I’d recommend. Although I hesitate. Every book about pregnancy and childbirth and raising children I own has at least a few pages that make me cringe with disagreement. There’s a lot of crazy stuff out there surrounding this whole process. So what I’m going to recommend are books that I hope will help you take part in the whole pregnancy/childbirth conversation — not necessarily books I endorse or agree with.

1) What to Expect When You’re Expecting
This is the pregnancy bible for a reason. Lots of answers. Very reassuring. Major portions of the book are about special circumstances, so if you’re having a run-of-the-mill normal pregnancy, you’ll skip lots. I also own What to Expect the First Year. I haven’t looked at it in a long time, but I remember I found it helpful.

2) Husband Coached Childbirth, the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth
Whether you go natural or not (I’ve done it all), you’ll be glad you know the lingo. Try to ignore the part where Dr. Bradley refers to breasts as sweater decorations. There are other books on natural childbirth, but this method seems to be the most widely read among my friends.

3) The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, the La Leche League
Not a leaguer myself, but again, throughout your pregnancy, you’ll hear lots of references from this book and about the La Leche League and you’ll be glad you’re familiar with the contents. Irritating title, but some people love, love this book.

4) Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana
This is an excellent baby naming reference and is pretty darn fun to read. It’s in it’s bazillionth edition. When Ralph was born it was only called, Beyond Jennifer and Jason.

5) Magazines:
Fit Pregnancy, because it might inspire you to excercise and that’s always a plus, but mostly because it always features an excellent selection of maternity clothes. Cookie, because it gets you excited for the baby gear and makes you feel hip. I posted about Cookie earlier here.

6) Baby Wise and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
BabyWise is something you should read before the baby is born in case you want to use this sleep training method, because the method begins when the baby is like a week old. Healthy Sleep Habits method begins when the baby is about 4 months. Whether you choose to use either of these methods or not, you’ll want to be familiar with what’s inside.

7) Lastly, I use this website to track the size and development of my baby week-by-week.

That makes a pretty good pregnancy reading starter kit. And again, I don’t necessarily endorse anything in these books. But, they should help you feel like you’re in the know.

Design Mom readers, help us out. Without advocating any particular type of childbirth or method of feeding (there are plenty of sites better suited for such conversation), please recommend your favorite pregnancy reads.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brooke November 9, 2006 at 11:35 am

There’s the candid & funny The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy: Or everything your doctor won’t tell you, as well as the other Girlfriend’s Guide books.


2 petie November 9, 2006 at 12:03 pm

The Binghams are the ultimate consumers. We loved a book called “Baby Bargains,” which tells you which is the best stroller, crib, etc. . .all the way down to maternity clothes (though they recommend stirrup pants and a big shirt — what?) It was nice to be a little bit informed about what you’re buying — as it’s often WAY overwhelming.


3 Erin November 9, 2006 at 12:59 pm

I didn’t have much use for What to Expect, but I loved Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn. Written by a group of doctors/midwives in Seattle, it was organized well and didn’t have a lot of useless information. Although it may lean slightly towards natural childbirth, I liked that it wasn’t too far either direction. There is a new edition out, I have an older one, but I’m sure the new one is just as good.


4 Rebecca November 9, 2006 at 2:16 pm

I’m with Erin– I don’t love What to Expect (it just sort of bugs), but I do have a copy and reference it from time to time. I have used the Bradley book quite a bit, but it’s totally natural, so it really bothers some people. I love how Bradley describes contractions as “strong sensations”— yeah, whatever!!!


5 Josh November 9, 2006 at 5:13 pm

Let me put in my vote for Baby Bargains. It is a great book for husbands, as I was obsessed with our first baby as to what we need to buy, being convinced that if we chose the wrong crib our child would not get into a good college. The same couple wrote Baby 411 which has their same great style and pratical advice but focused on how to raise a baby instead of just what to buy.

And while we are on the subject of what to buy, let’s talk about strollers. Amy and I bought 4 strollers before we were satisfied. And ended up spending $700-$800 in the process. It is much smarter to just buy a stroller you love from the get go, even if it costs a bit more. You use it almost every day and if you hate it, you’ll be miserable. We love our Valco and couldn’t live without it. Shop around online for the best price.


6 Anonymous November 9, 2006 at 11:30 pm

Having a baby eclipses everything. Hooray for the mystery blogger!

I say don’t fight the morning sickness (which may come in the afternoon) but stay ahead of it. Keep little snacks handy to prevent your blood sugar from dropping. In other words, eat a little before you get hungry.

Good luck!


7 Anonymous November 14, 2006 at 8:56 pm

When I was preggers with my 3rd I went in search of a different type of book. I wanted more info than WTEWYE..after all I’d read it for the previous two..and always wanted more info. Then I found the ‘Mayo clinc’s Guide to Pregnancy’. I now buy it for everyone I know who is preggers and reccomend to everyone I know. It was the BIGGEST help and had much more usefull info in my humble opinion ;-). Especially for 2nd or 3rd timers :-)


8 Jadah November 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm

I enjoyed Jenny McCarthy’s Belly Laughs when I was pregnant. It was funny and quirky. And you could consume it in small doses because the chapters were so short.


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