Pregnancy Reading- Part I

Maybe a little surprising, I am not a fan of pregnancy books. Why:

1. I'd rather buy regular books
2. While I was admittedly a little cautious the first few weeks, I've done a damn good job keeping calm and do not need a book filling my worry-prone mind with ideas of what can go wrong (I'm almost 19 weeks).
3. If the pioneers got by without What to Expect When You're Expecting so can I (although I'll go ahead and keep electricity and running water, thanks).

I have picked up a few, though, and thought I'd share my thoughts. My general theory has been to inform myself about basic pregnancy the first trimester, labor the second trimester, and baby-wrangling the third. Here are a few from conception and the first tri.

Getting Pregnant
For some women, all they have to do is think about having a baby and presto chango they're knocked up. Unfortunately, this was not the case for me- a "fertile myrtle" I am not. Thankfully, we didn't have to get into anything too crazy, but it is a taboo subject, and I know several acquaintances and friends that have gone through hell and back because of infertility, and my heart hurts for them. It's no joke.

I learned a lot from Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler about everything reproductive-related. I was lucky to have a pretty good foundation from studying in biology, but I strongly feel that all women, no matter what your reproductive goals are, should read this book. What you choose to do with the information is up to you- there is a variety of methods you can use to speed up the fertility process (some practical, some a bit more, err, invasive), or slow it down if you aren't in that mindset yet. 

I also read Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Plan for Maximum Fertility by Sami David and was not at all impressed. Honestly, the premise is downright silly- you take this questionnaire and you're given a "fertility type" which then corresponds to different sections of the book. There's diet and lifestyle changes and tips you're supposed to make for success- it reminds me of the blood type diet. Frankly, I'm not sure why I even bothered buying it; I think the alternative aspect intrigued me at the time.

First Trimester
Once I found myself "with child" I banned myself from the internet immediately. Have you ever looked at the board on Holy fucking shit. So many of those women are hyper-paranoid, misinformed, and symptom whores. Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh. Most of them just desperately want their pregnancies to run smoothly, and I totally get it. But there's just so much hysteria and blatantly wrong information out there that trying to decipher it in a moment of stress is masochistic. I am completely confident that this has been the wisest choice... for me.

The first book I read was the Panic Free Pregnancy by Michael Broder, and while I do disagree with some of his ideas (like prenatal vitamins- just take them to be safe, no matter how awesome your diet is!), I think that he offers a very rationale approach to pregnancy. So many things in our society start after very little research or are based on old wive's tales. For example, the whole hair dying conundrum, which I am currently battling with, is based on one small study a really long time ago, when dyes were chemically different. There's a great deal of information about diet, travel, exercise, and other general day-to-day issues that might arise. 

I also purchased the Mayo Clinic Guide to Healthy Pregnancy, which is an extensive guide from conception to birth. I found it both informative and boring as hell. It was during this book that my gut feeling was confirmed- reading about the nuts and bolts of basic pregnancy is super dull. You do what you do to get pregnant, you take good care of yourself, and then you go through hell trying to get the kid out of you. Then you go home and deal with your body's attempt to juggle normalizing hormones, sleep-deprivation, and recovery all at the same time. Super fun. I'd rather read some Atwood or Chabon or Patchett or something. 

I had a buttload of Audible credits saved up and was suspending my account so I decided to use them up, juuuuust in case they somehow disappeared. So, against my better judgement I downloaded Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy to listen to while I walked. First of all, I'm not a fan of her, but I would have preferred her narration to the dramatic middle-aged woman they did use- I felt like the woman was menopausal... not pregnant. Anyway, McCarthy does her best to both scare the reader and make them feel like their oddities are normal. I didn't learn anything, but it was entertaining. It also made me feel thankful that nothing weird or horrible hasn't happened to me yet- her stories of cravings, weight gain, flatulence, and moodiness were all very extreme. 

I've also picked up a few copies of the magazine Fit Pregnancy, since I've been determined to stay as active as possible. Working out is obviously different now, though, and the magazine has offered some good guidelines to remember. Yoga is a whole different (humbling) ballgame now- twists have to be done the opposite direction, inversions are off limits, ab work is a no-no, and back bends are not allowed (I can still do plenty in a 90 minute class, though, believe it or not). I've moved to an indoor-bike trainer and have been walking miles and miles.

Now that I'm almost half way into my second trimester I've only bought one book and plan on maybe one or two more for the rest of the time. I know that many people buy zero, but for me, a reader that believes all the answers to life's questions lie in between the pages, this is nothing. 


  1. From one fellow pregnant gal to another (I'm 29 weeks), I highly recommend prental yoga. For one thing, I don't have to worry about modifying any of the moves on my own, and secondly, I leave that class feeling awesome. There's also something comforting about being in a room of pregnant women - all of us at different stages of pregnancy - knowing you aren't "alone" or standout as the preggo one.

    I too, bought a few books at the beginning - the mayo one you mentioned being one of them, but by about the end of my first trimester, I was done. I can't be bothered to read about the "what ifs" and all the scary stats. I agree - if you treat your body well, eat well, stay active where safe, take your vitamins - then really, how much more can you do? What's the sense in worrying over things you can't change? Really, now I just use the books for reference if a question pops up. Although, with that being said, my favourite pregnancy book that I bought is called Pregnancy Day by Day. It's an illustrated guide and has tips and info for each day of your pregnancy.

  2. When I ever I had a bout of worries during my pregnancies my husband would gently remind me "Remember, some women smoke crack while pregnant, so I'm sure you doing XXXXX will be okay." Of course, he was right.

    The one pregnancy book that I came back to again and again (and again and again - four times in total) was Up the Duff by Kaz Cooke. It's a bit Australian but totally relevant, funny but also informative. Highly recommend.

  3. The only book you need to get you through pregnancy and the first year is "Babies and Other Hazards of Sex" by Dave Barry.

  4. I never read any pregnancy books. If I had specific questions, I asked my doctor (the person most acquainted with my history and health...). And those babycenter boards...good lord. The most horrifying ones are the due date ones (where everyone announces their births...even the super early, tragic ones that made me cry my eyes out and worry about every single twitch).

    As for prepping for labor, I don't know (aside from staying in shape) if there's anything you really can do. There are about a million variations on a healthy birth, so I didn't find it helpful to read about what I knew was coming. That being said, I had one text book, easy delivery (first one) and one traumatic, complicated delivery - I'd like to think I did everything right leading up to it both times, so you just never know. I toy with the idea of having a third, but I'm undecided... Either way, I going to have to check out 'Babies and Other Hazards of Sex".

  5. Expecting Better by Emily Oster is really good and sane.

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