Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reviews of pregnancy books

I missed yoga yesterday, but it was for a good reason...I got a glimpse of my future child! I'm 12 weeks pregnant, and I decided to wait till to see the ultrasound before spreading the news far and wide. Well, I'm happy to report that all appears to be well with the kidlet.

I found out that I was pregnant in late November, and it was a bit of a shock. I've always wanted kids, but wasn't planning on it right now because I was applying to grad programs and my relationship with my boyfriend is relatively new. But we both found ourselves to be quite happy with the news, after all, and are making the necessary adjustments to our lives to accommodate this new little person.

One of the first things we did was head to the bookstore, because I wanted as much information as possible, and my obsessive Googling wasn't quite cutting it.

My boyfriend and I sat in the bookstore for quite a while, flipping though various books. I joked that I was looking for one called Your Vegan, Feminist, Unplanned Pregnancy, but, sadly, that one doesn't seem to have been written yet.

On that first visit, I bought two weekly pregnancy guides, so I could compare their advice (yeah, I'm weird like that):

Pregnancy: Your Ultimate Week-By-Week Pregnancy Guide by Dr. Laura Riley, OB/GYN
This one has some neat extras, like a due date determining wheel and beautiful photographs of fetuses. The information is laid out well and fairly comprehensive. I also like that the author uses the word "partner" instead of husband and routinely acknowledges the existence of single moms as well.

Your Pregnancy: Week By Week by Glade B. Curtis, MD, MPH and Judith Schuler, MS
This one has similar information to Riley's book, but seems to focus more on the medical side of things than emotional issues. One thing I like about it are detailed drawings of the fetus for each week, including one that is actual size.

When I visited my midwife for the first time, her office gave me a big stack of parenting magazines and this book for free:

What To Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel

This book has a ton of info and I can see why it is the top go-to guide for that reason, BUT I have a couple of issues with it. First, they have a note in the beginning saying that they in no way intend to exclude single or unmarried moms, but they're going to use the word "spouse" throughout the book anyway, and you should fill in whatever applies to you if that particular word does not (I'm paraphrasing, but that is the gist of it). It may seem like a small issue, but I don't see why they couldn't use the word "partner." I believe almost half of the babies born in the U.S. are born to unmarried moms. Also, the information is organized in a manner I find somewhat hard to follow at times, but I guess that's what the index is for.

I found all three of the above books to be helpful info-wise, but they also sometimes freak me out with their detailed descriptions of everything that could possibly go wrong, even some things that, upon further research, I found out are VERY rare. Now, I know they want to be thorough, but I often feel anxious reading about all that stuff. They also focus a LOT on how important it is to gain the exact perfect amount of weight, which I personally feel like I have little control over right now. I mean, I eat really healthy food for the most part, but there are times when I feel voraciously hungry, and other times (thankfully, this phase seems to be passing) when I feel so nauseated that I really don't want to eat anything.

Then I remembered hearing about this other book, which I didn't find at the bookstore but easily acquired from Amazon:

From The Hips by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris

Finally, a book that really seems to get it! The layout of this book is really cool, with neat drawings of pregnant women of various shapes, sizes and ethnicities (the three aforementioned books had white women on the covers and no other pictures of women in the text). They mention gay people! And single moms! And the best part is, they have lots of quotes from anonymous parents, that show the true diversity of the pregnancy experience. It's not all sunshine and joy and flowers - they address fears about losing your freedom, worries about your body and your relationship...all kinds of stuff. This book is not as thorough as the others when it comes to medical info, but it covers the basics, and for emotional info, it is BY FAR the best. It also addresses a lot of parenting issues for after the baby is born.

I can't seem to stop reading pregnancy books (though I'm also hooked on the new Jonathan Franzen novel, I must admit), so I'm sure I'll have more book reviews in the future!


  1. I'm 37 weeks in my 2nd full pregnancy, which is very different from my 1st on so many levels.

    I found books by midwives to be far more helpful. Weight-gain, for example, is a huge deal. I started off both pregnancies naturally underweight, so putting on 55 lbs is a GOOD thing for me. It is not a good thing, however, according to these books. Anything over 40, maybe 45 and you're just pigging out.

    The 2nd half of Ina May Gaskin's first book, Spiritual Midwifery", does an excellent job explaining what-to-expect. (The first half are birth stories, which were helpful to read as my first birth approached.) The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth is a great book, too. Much better, I think, than "what to expect"
    which I take issue with, in part, because it seems to be written like pregnancy is a disease that must be managed and treated, not a natural part of a woman's life-cycle.

    Oh, dear lord...I'm so sorry for suggesting books without your asking. I just think there's a ton of crap-pregnancy books out there, and the good ones can be hard to find, and I got so scared and frustrated before I finally found some books that really "clicked" for me.

    For the record, I also found "From the Hips" to be a very useful and insightful book.

    Wishing you the best!

  2. Thanks so much, I will check out those books. I am seeing midwives instead of an OB/Gyn. Actually it is the policy of the hospital I chose to send all Medicaid patients to the midwives instead of the OB/Gyn, unless there is a complication. That worked out great for me, because I preferred to see midwives, but I think my partner had some hesitation about it.

    Watching Rikki Lake's documentary, "The Business of Being Born," introduced me to midwifery and that's the route I wanted to go since long before I found out I was pregnant.

    Thanks for your comment, and congrats to you!