When you’re pregnant, you need advice and you may need it at the craziest of times. When I was pregnant, I had midnight freak-out sessions when something didn’t feel right. I was too scared to call my doctor for every twinge of pain or question because I didn’t want him to label me as a nutjob.
And I didn’t want my friends making voodoo dolls of me for calling them repeatedly at 2 in the morning. Sometimes your best bet is a trusted source of information that’s always there for you – a good old book. Keep reading to find out what the best pregnancy books are currently on the market.
Can’t I Just Look Up The Information Online?
Be smarter than I was – be very careful about what you search for on the internet when you are pregnant, especially if you have complications. You’ll find a lot of worst-case scenarios that will leave you more panicked than before.
I’m speaking from experience on this one. Late in my first pregnancy, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Up until that point, I had been sailing through my pregnancy. My diagnosis left me shell-shocked and frantic.
I read everything I could find about gestational diabetes as I sat sobbing at night, craving carbs but eating so many carrots sticks I thought I would turn orange and look like a giant sad-faced Oompa Loompa. I was terrified because I knew I had to eat to feed my baby, but I felt like I was harming him with every bite I took. Food had become an enemy because the wrong kind could do serious damage to my baby.
No one in my circle of moms had experience with gestational diabetes. I turned to the internet and read horror stories about stillborn births and abnormally large babies caused by gestational diabetes. That only led to more worry and stress, which isn’t good for babies (1).
What A Good Book Can Offer You
The only thing that made me feel better was the pregnancy book I was reading because it said that most cases of gestational diabetes didn’t result in stillborn births and wouldn’t cause Buddha-sized babies. The book was right, and none of the terrible things I read on the internet happened to me or my baby. That experience taught me a valuable lesson – always rely on the experts.
So while pregnancy books offer important information, one of the best things about them is that they provide peace of mind for the reader.
What Should I Look For In A Pregnancy Book?
Determining what your motivation is will lead you to the right pregnancy book for you. Maybe you’re a vegan who wants to continue that style of eating throughout your pregnancy. There are pregnancy books for that.
Are you a micromanager? Do you feel the need to stay on top of what is happening in your belly from week to week? Are you the type who wants to know how many ounces the typical baby grows over the course of any given month? So many pregnancy books do a wonderful chronicling the changes your baby faces every day, and I relied on those heavily during my pregnancy.
Are you more worried about the delivery than the week by week details of what’s happening in your belly? Then you need to find a soothing book that will ease your worries.
Do I Have To Read The Whole Thing?
If your idea of a good time isn’t reading multiples books that are each the size of “War and Peace,” you can breathe easy. You shouldn’t feel like you are cramming for a midterm in school. If the idea of reading night after night stresses you out, don’t do it.
When I was pregnant, I had books that I kept on hand specifically as reference books and other books I read cover to cover. If I was experiencing contractions, I would look up that section in my reference book.
But if you enjoy reading, go for it. Read the whole thing. There’s no right or wrong here, only what works for you.
The Best Pregnancy Books of 2020
1. Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy - Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic is one of the best hospitals in America (2). I’ve been to the Mayo Clinic numerous times. It’s an impressive place, and I’ve never had to second guess the advice they’ve given me – which is a rarity for me.
Even though doctors wrote Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, you won’t be scratching your head trying to figure out what they’re saying. They’ve written this in terms anyone should be able to understand. Micro-managers like me will appreciate the section that shows what developmental milestones your baby is reaching each week during your pregnancy.
- Parents-to-be may find this book easy to understand.
- This might be a good choice for someone who is looking for a comprehensive guide to parenthood – this book covers an enormous number of topics.
- Parents who are nervous about the big day may appreciate the tips about staying calm when labor begins. I relied heavily on this book when I was pregnant. I used the calming tips frequently when my husband got that deer in the headlights look anytime I asked him to go over our plan.
- This is written by doctors – they don’t sugarcoat any of the information in the book. That might be frightening for women who are looking for a friendlier tone.
- At 512 pages, this book’s weight and general look might be intimidating to some women.
2. Guide To Childbirth - Ina May Gaskin
Women have been having babies for thousands of years without the benefit of modern medicine. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is written by a midwife who extols the virtues of natural childbirth. While acknowledging that pain is often a part of Childbirth, Gaskin argues that sometimes natural childbirth can be an orgasmic experience.
This book discusses handling labor without drugs, whether episiotomies are a good idea, the dangers involved with anesthesia, and how to reduce your risks in any setting, even a hospital. It includes a first-person narrative section in which other women share their stories, and there are detailed photos of childbirth.
- Women who are seeking a more natural birth may appreciate the message that they have options regarding the birthing setting.
- Women who are worried about the birthing process may take comfort in the reassuring tone of this book.
- It also includes a segment that labor coaches might find helpful. I should have had my husband read it. It might have prevented him from leaving the room every 15 minutes to grab another Diet Pepsi while complaining about how tired he was.
- If you have any complications, you may feel bad about yourself for needing medical intervention.
- Readers may feel like the author is insinuating all medical interference in childbirth is bad.
- Women may have a hard time buying into the possibility of orgasmic childbirth situations.
3. A Child Is Born - Lennart Nilsson
Spoiler alert – this book isn’t something you should leave on your coffee table especially if you have other kids in the house. If you do, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do and years of therapy to pay for. A Child Is Born has first-class photography and graphic, striking images. Some of them strike fear into my heart, and I’ve already had two kids.
This book was first published nearly 40 years ago, and it won Nilsson the award for American National Press Association Picture of the Year. Most of the images in the book focus on the baby in the womb.
- You might like the accessible information in this book – it is very informative without feeling overwhelming.
- Women may appreciate the detailed pictures of the babies in utero.
- Some people might be disturbed by photos of miscarriages.
- Women might be disappointed this book focuses more on the baby’s development than the mother’s emotional needs.
- Some of the pictures are old. If you enjoy watching “Three’s Company” reruns you may get a kick out of the wardrobe choices sported by the subjects in the older photos, but if you’re looking for more current photography, you might want to look elsewhere.
4. Dad’s Guide To Pregnancy For Dummies
This book covers a lot of ground. Dad’s Guide To Pregnancy For Dummies has detailed chapters on conception, each trimester of pregnancy, a variety of birthing options, and how to be a great delivery partner. It also prepares men for after-delivery issues, how to recognize signs of postpartum depression, financial aspects of fatherhood, and ways to bond with a baby. The basics of baby care, such as holding, burping and bathing, is covered in this book.
This book addresses questions men have about a pregnancy, returning to a normal sex life, and the joy and pressures they’ll face as fathers.
- Men who are worried about money may appreciate the detailed financial section of this book.
- The humor used by the authors when writing the book should make this an easy read for men.
- This book doesn’t follow the pregnancy month by month, only by trimesters.
- If you are looking for a book with a lot of pictures, this book may be a disappointment.
5. Be Prepared - Gary Greenberg
Dads can feel left out by traditional pregnancy books that focus more on mothers. While mothers are doing the heavy lifting, fathers play a significant role too. Be Prepared helps ready them for their changing lifestyle by providing them with valuable information while entertaining them.
This book has a playful tone and advises dads how they can incorporate fatherhood into their way of life – like changing their baby at ball stadiums or how to fight the sleep deprivation many new parents face. It also discusses how a couple’s sex life may change after childbirth.
- Pregnancy can be a scary, life-changing time. This book may ease some of the worry and tension by its lighthearted tone and jokes aimed at men.
- Men may like its straightforward approach to everyday childrearing tasks like burping and swaddling.
- Some guys may be insulted at being depicted as the stereotypical manly man who sounds like he belongs on a Brawny paper towel commercial.
- Men may find some of the material, like baby proofing VCRs, a bit dated.
6. The Mindful Mom-To-Be - Lori Bregman
One of the most challenging aspects of pregnancy for some women is the overwhelming worry about how their life will change once the baby is born. Motherhood is all-encompassing and overwhelming at times, even for the best of us. The Mindful Mom-To-Be acknowledges that and offers emotional and spiritual exercises to help women prepare for their life-changing event.
While many books focus on the health of the baby and the physical health of the mother, this book takes more of a holistic approach to motherhood than some others on this list. It offers advice, checklists, birth plans that you can customize, and budget-friendly tips on eating healthy.
- Women might like how this book focuses on their feelings and emotional needs instead of merely treating them like a baby incubator.
- Those experiencing aches and pains during pregnancy may find relief from the stretches and exercises detailed in this book.
- Women who already have children might not need this book’s emotional and spiritual drills to prepare for motherhood.
- This book provides moral support, but those who want a little more medical advice or something that focuses more on baby development may want to look elsewhere.
7. The Pregnant Body Book
Most moms worry – it’s a sign that you’re doing this motherhood thing correctly. The worrying doesn’t begin with the birth of your child; it starts from the moment you learn you are pregnant. The Pregnant Body Book acknowledges that fact, and it claims that this is the safest time in history to be pregnant for both the mother and the baby. The book details medical advancements in an informative timeline, and it gives statistics on childbirth mortality rates.
Specific details of the changes a baby undergoes, along with 3-D images, are featured in this book.
- Fans of modern medicine may appreciate that science isn’t the bad guy in this book, unlike some other pregnancy books which make modern medicine sound barbaric.
- Women who enjoy photography may like the up-close details of developing fetuses.
- The statistics in the book about the outcomes of modern-day pregnancy and deliveries may provide comfort to first-time mothers who are worried about complications.
- If you’re looking to explore your feelings about motherhood, you might be disappointed. This is all about science and medicine.
- Women interested in reading about the birthing process might be let down – most of this book focuses on what happens up until that point.
8. What To Do When You're Having Two
Finding a quality book about having multiples can be difficult, but it’s often a necessity since it’s an entirely different experience than having a single child.
What to Do When You’re Having Two covers a variety of topics parents of multiples will want to know. It has tips on how to juggle breastfeeding two babies and how to stick to one sleep schedule.
It also covers marital issues – mothers who have one child often struggle to find time for their significant other, and that can be even more of a challenge for parents of twins.
- Parents expecting twins might appreciate this book is written by a mother of twins who understands what parents are going through and shares her experiences, not just tips.
- The gear list may be handy for parents who may not have thought of all the equipment they’ll need for twins.
- Some parents may not agree with the author’s single suggestion for sleep training – the cry it out method.
- Parents who are struggling with money might find some of the tips and the equipment list out of their range.
9. Dad's Guide To Raising Twins
Chronicling the adventures of parenting twins, this book is a resource for parents who are nervous about having twins and wonder what their life will be like after the birth of their babies.
Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins is a follow-up to his first book, Dad’s Guide to Twins, and it instructs parents on helping their twins sleep well at night, getting them on a feeding schedule, and how to balance work and home.
It doesn’t stop with a child’s first birthday – it continues giving advice for when twins are older. Those tips include potty training, how to travel with twins, planning a college fund for two, and teaching self-sufficiency.
- Parents might enjoy Rawlinson’s personal stories that he uses to bring life to his book and make it relatable.
- Although this book is targeted at dads, mothers may find the advice also applies to them, and they may enjoy the funny, lighthearted tone the author uses.
- This book looks beyond the pregnancy and labor aspect and focusing solely on childrearing, which is something that parents who already have non-twin children might appreciate.
- First-time parents may want a book that also addresses pregnancy and labor issues.
- Parents may find the message that their twins will be different from each other is too repetitive.
The Bottom Line
While these books all have different aspects about them that make them useful to their target audience, my favorite is the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. This book saved me from having a nervous breakdown many nights during my pregnancies just because of its comprehensive nature.
Every common medical complication or condition you or your baby can face is covered by this book, along with many uncommon complications. It covers the major topics mothers-to-be will want to know about – conception, fetus development, labor, and post-birth information and issues. This book can be used as a reference guide or be read in its entirety.
While a team of doctors wrote this book, they aren’t dismissive of people who want to explore a more natural birth – they take a neutral stance which isn’t found in many pregnancy books. It includes information about midwives and what they do, and it lists the advantages and disadvantages of a home birth. This book offers information, not opinion or judgment. That’s important because I don’t think there’s a time in a woman’s life when she is bombarded by more opinions and judgment than she is during pregnancy.
Childbirth and motherhood are filled with challenges, obstacles, laughter, and unforgettable moments. Just relax, and remember to breathe deeply and love even deeper. The most important thing you can do for your baby is love it. Everything else will fall into place. You’ve got this.