Updated October 2018
There are some awesome pregnancy books out there that will truly enrich this whole experience for you and your partner.
Ahhhnnnd…there are some really crappy pregnancy books that are either completely outdated and/or a total waste of time. And still others will only scare you.
Which books are the best?
It really depends on your personal philosophy on pregnancy and birth and the depth of knowledge that you hope to attain.
** Best Pregnancy Books **
Based on my reading, research, and reading tons (and tons!) of reviews, here is what I recommend and why:
1. 1,000 Questions About Your Pregnancy by Jeffrey Thurston
Best For: Informed parents who are looking for solid answers to common pregnancy questions based on clinical studies.
This book is often recommended by OBs to their patients because it answers so many important questions in an analytical yet user-friendly way. The “1,000 questions” tell the story of fetal development and physical changes/ailments — and you can read them as such.
Alternatively, you can use it as a reference manual to get reliable answers to questions like, “Is it okay to take a decongestant in the 2nd trimester?” (Do you really want to call your OB every time you have a simple question because you don’t trust idiots on Yahoo answers to know the truth? Hmmmm, no.)
Jeffrey’s tone is conversational, practical, non-preachy, appropriately humorous, and he speaks to you like the educated adult you are. An absolute must-have, in my opinion.
2. Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide by Penny Simkin (and others)
Best For: People who only want to buy ONE comprehensive book (that covers pregnancy, labor, and early infancy) and who are seeking balanced and unbiased information on issues such as breastfeeding, childbirth, etc.
By renowned pregnancy-author (and doula) Penny Simkim, this is another data rich book written by a team of professional female childbirth educators.
This is a great book that considers the individual needs of a woman and her family, while allowing for a broad discussion on all aspects of pregnancy and delivery. It covers practical matters, such as selecting a birth center/hospital/healthcare provider and creating your birth plan — and even infant care (most other books do not).
Penny has helped deliver over 10,000 babies in her lifetime — wowsers.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one must-have, this is the book for you.
3. What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
Your mom (haha, “your mom”) probably read this book when she was pregnant with YOU. This book is the old standby for pregnancy (with emphasis on the word “old”).
This book is loved by many; however, its contents tend to be a little fear-mongery and very old school. It will cover everything that can possibly go wrong (“you might be worried about”). Well – NO! I wasn’t actually worried about that, but I am now!!! Thanks, Obama.
Furthermore, I don’t find it very up-to-date with respect to recent updates on c-section, delivery, mother’s diet, etc. The tone is overly cutesy and cheery and not my personal style – BUT — many people like it. Midwesterners and such (kidding!).
So there’s that.
4. The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger
Best For: Those who approach childbirth as an exhilarating, natural phenomenon that doesn’t (necessarily) require medical intervention and/or those looking for encouragement to go au naturel.
This is a modern, uplifting, female-centered book, which focuses on the anthropological aspects of pregnancy and childbirth written by opinionated but well-educated British author, Sheila Kitzinger (yes, she enjoys crumpets and tea, THANK YOU for asking).
Kitzinger gives candid and practical information about what modern mothers need to know and goes into detail about fostering a good relationship with your OB (or other caregiver) and actually enjoying a hospital, birth-center, or home birth.
**This book covers pregnancy, but is really more geared at preparing for childbirth.
Available in hardcover and paperback.
5. The Informed Parent by Tara Haelle
Here are some more books we love that may be applicable to you, depending on your situation:
See also: Our Guide to Natural Childbirth, which contains more book recommendations for an unmedicated delivery.
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