Becoming a parent is one of the most frightening and exciting times in a person's life. As a first-time parent, you are filled with wonder and curiosity about how this journey will go, and you are also filled with a million questions about your pregnancy, the baby, and what is to come. Many parents often turn to outside resources to help satisfy this curiosity and to quell some of the worries they may feel at the prospect of creating a tiny human.
As with anything on the internet these days, however, there are countless books and resources on pregnancy that you can find. This can create another dilemma...which one do I choose? Which one will provide the most accurate, most helpful information, without completely overwhelming me (more than I already am)? Which one follows the same philosophies that I have as a parent-to-be?
Here are ten pregnancy books that break down this amazing journey in a way that is easy for parents to understand, while providing helpful information and insights into the incredible journey of becoming a parent.
10 What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
Previously hailed the guru of all pregnancy books, What to Expect When You're Expecting now tends to garner mixed reviews when it comes to assessing its overall helpfulness for parents-to-be. Some parents find the book to be a little too "dumbed down" for their liking, sometimes taking on a somewhat condescending tone and creating feelings of guilt and/or panic in new parents.
However, considering that this book has sold over 10.5 million copies, and is constantly publishing newer versions with added topics, it can still be considered a very valuable resource about all things related to pregnancy. The informative layout breaks down your pregnancy in a week-by-week format and addresses everything from symptoms you may be experiencing, where your baby is at in terms of its development, and what you can be doing to ensure your optimal health and the health of your baby.
The most recent edition of this book includes updated information on such topics as IVF, breastfeeding while pregnant, and prenatal screening. Overall, this book still make it into the Top 10, due to its ability to break down every part of your pregnancy and explain it in a way that is easy to understand.
9 Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents Too! by the pregnancy experts at the Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic is well-known for its information-laden website, with clear answers to health-related questions, accurate information, and easy-to-understand articles on all topics within the medical industry. So, it's no wonder that their book, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents Too! is a huge success as well.
Following a similar format as What to Expect When You're Expecting, this book also breaks down your pregnancy week-by-week, and it also looks at the changes taking place in a month-by-month overview. The authors discuss the biology behind what is actually happening inside your body and to your baby as you progress through the pregnancy, and it explains it in an easy-to-understand way, without being too intimidating or panic-inducing.
It also provides advice on healthy living throughout your pregnancy, including meal-planning, exercise, and medication. Considering that the Mayo Clinic treats over 500,000 patients every year, there is significant medical experience to back up this book and reassure new parents that they are getting accurate information.
8 Pregnancy, O.M.G.! The First-Ever Photographic Guide for Modern Mamas-to-Be by Nancy Redd
Now, this book provides some fun and light humour, while also giving new parents some insight on what to expect throughout their pregnancy in a very realistic way. Being the first of its kind, this photographic guide provides answers and photographs to every possible pregnancy concern you can think of, and it does so very graphically.
The book features photos of pregnant women of all shapes and sizes, and it addresses the changes in hair, skin, and breasts with visual references. Not everyone prefers to see such graphic explanations to their questions, however others find that this kind of honest, forthright way of addressing the numerous changes, both physical and mental, that take place during pregnancy to be very helpful and reassuring.
The author peppers the book with some light-hearted humour and open, honest answers to some of the most common (and some not so common!) questions surrounding pregnancy.
7 Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is one pregnancy book that definitely comes with a clear point of view: natural is best. Ina May Gaskin is well-known for her work as a midwife and for her strong advocacy for natural birth and concerns about the medical industry. So, while her strong point of view may put some readers off, her explanation of childbirth as a natural process that women's bodies were made to handle can also be reassuring for those who are feeling rather nervous about childbirth itself.
Filled with positive birth stories from women around the world, the first half of the book is very reaffirming for any mother-to-be who is wanting to try for a natural birth, because it shares many beautiful success stories. She describes and explains a wide variety of physical sensations that women can experience during labour, and because she focuses on positive birth stories, her book can help to lessen the feelings of overwhelm and fear in new moms.
6 Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? The Surprising Science of Pregnancy by Jena Pincott
This book is like a Bill Nye the Science Guy for expecting parents, as it takes a close look at the biology, psychology, and neuroscience behind pregnancy. It is a fun read, and it takes a break from the usual lists of pregnancy symptoms and baby development that many books focus on.
Instead, this book gives readers a chance to learn some fun information about the why and how behind their symptoms. Why does your favourite sandwich suddenly make you feel like gagging? Why have your dreams taken a sudden dive into the completely bizarre? This book delves into explanations on a wide variety of pregnancy topics and explains it from a scientific perspective (with a little dose of humour thrown in!). A fun read for all expectant parents!
5 The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland
With the ever-increasing move toward natural living and holistic remedies, it is no wonder that this book would find its way on to our Top 10 Pregnancy Books. Written by Genevieve Howland, whose popular blog, Mama Natural, receives over one million views per month, this book explores the more natural approaches to pregnancy and childbirth, including advice from a certified nurse midwife, a doula, and a lactation consultant.
It addresses important issues like what to eat during pregnancy, what nutritional supplements would be most beneficial, and natural remedies for common pregnancy symptoms. The book also addresses the important conversation about the appropriate use of medical interventions during a pregnancy. For anyone wanting to follow a more natural approach to their pregnancy, this would be a helpful book to read.
4 The Sh!t No One Tells You About Pregnancy by Dawn Dais
Dawn Dais' popular parenting series, The Sh!t No One Tells You, casts a humorous light on some of the major event in pregnancy and parenting. The fourth instalment in the series, The Sh!t No One Tells You About Pregnancy is not different. Anyone who has experience pregnancy can agree, it is important to have a bit of a sense of humour if you are going to get through this process unscathed!
Dawn walks parents-to-be through the process of growing a tiny human with an honest, blunt, and often humorous tone that helps to take away some of the angst new parents are feeling. She addresses the changes in your body throughout pregnancy, as well as what childbirth itself will look like.
There is even a series of Parent-Training Workouts that help you to assess how you will cope with the various (and many!) indignities of becoming a parents, from going to the bathroom with an audience to surviving an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese. A great laugh for parents-to-be who are looking to incorporate some humour into their journey.
3 The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash
It is important to remember that it is not only the woman who is experiencing pregnancy and childbirth. While it is the woman who bears the brunt of the experience, it is essential that men are given some tools to help them navigate this whole new world as dads-to-be. If nothing else, if they are armed with knowledge and understanding, it will make them that much better of a support to their partner through the whole process.
This book addresses some of the key understandings that men will need to be that support system for their partner, and also helps to explain that many changes that are occurring on a month-by-month basis, including emotional changes in their partner, financial changes once baby arrives, and even physical changes a father-to-be may experience.
2 The Birth Partner: Everything You Need to Know to Help a Woman through Childbirth by Penny Simkin
This book is an indispensable read for anyone planning to assist a woman in childbirth, whether it be a partner, friend, or relative. This book is full of useful information about all forms of childbirth, including natural home births and hospital births.
While the author clearly favours natural birth practices, she offers a relatively unbiased explanation to all forms of support and intervention, allowing parents to make the choices that suit them best. This book clearly stresses the importance of the birth partner, and shies away from silly jokes and innuendoes that imply that men have no idea what is going on.
The author covers a wide range of childbirth options and how the partner can best support the woman in each of the different scenarios. Reviews tout this book as a must-read for all labour partners.
1 Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Penny Simkin
Another entry in our Top 10 by Penny Simkin, this book explores not only the ins and outs of pregnancy and childbirth, but also the first few weeks of living with a newborn. Many parents-to-be spend a lot of their pregnancy wondering about the development of their baby and what the childbirth experience will be like. Often, once baby arrives, they are left feeling panicked and completely unprepared for what to do next.
This book helps to alleviate those worries by addressing common issues around baby's first few weeks and a mother's physical symptoms postpartum. Included in the updated version are chapters on creating a detailed birth plan and an expanded list of drugs and medications, as well as advice for their uses.
While the author's tendency to favour natural birth practices and holistic remedies is still evident, as it is in her other books, she still provides a non-judgmental look at different medical interventions and treatments, to help parents make the most informed decision of what works best for them.