When I was 7 months pregnant with my first child, my husband and I made a cross-country move. I suddenly found myself no longer working, alone at home all day, and without a friend base in our new town. So I did what any first time mama with a lot of new-found time on her hands would do – I used that time to read up on pregnancy and babies.
Five and a half years later and two months away from baby #3, it’s dawned on me that I might benefit from revisiting some of the books I found so useful the first time around. After all, it has been nearly four years since I had an infant around the house. (You’d be amazed how quickly you forget things you once thought were permanently branded into your brain, such as the secret to the perfect swaddle.)
Here are my top 10 books on pregnancy and babies for any other expectant mothers out there also looking for a little guidance.
Best All Around Reference Books
“What to Expect When You’re Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
It’s not often that a medical reference book becomes so iconically popular that it spawns a Hollywood movie of the same name. Read by more than 90 percent of pregnant women, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is probably the most well-known pregnancy book of all time. You’ll want it on your bookshelf to help answer all those “is this normal” questions and to be in the loop, as you can be sure all of your new friends at mommy-and-me play group will have a copy as well.
“The Pregnancy Book” by Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, R.N.
As much as I appreciated having “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” around as quick reference guide, I found “The Pregnancy Book” to be what I was reaching for most during my pregnancy. While “What to Expect” can be a little clinical and overwhelming in it’s chronicling of all the things that can go wrong, “The Pregnancy Book” does a good job of speaking to, and not just about, expectant mothers while weaving in personal narratives from mothers and care providers. I also loved the illustrations of the month-to-month fetal developments.
Best Book When You Need to Laugh or Feel Like You’re Not Alone
“The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy” by Vicki Iovine
Let’s face it, pregnancy isn’t all radiance and bliss. It’s a time crammed with a whole range of baffling and down-right embarrassing physical and emotional experiences. This entertaining read gives pregnant women the chance to laugh at the occasional absurdity of it all. Called “the Carrie Bradshaw of pregnancy” by the Wall Street Journal, author Vicki Iovine is as entertaining as she is empathetic.
Best Book for Dads
“The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be” by Armin Brott and Jennifer Ash
Of the thousands of pregnancy books out there, the vast majority are written for women. But what about the dad-to-be? I bought “The Expectant Father” for my husband when we were pregnant with our first. Although he found some sections a bit trite, overall he appreciated the chance to do some research of his own. The coverage of the emotional, financial, and even physical changes the father-to-be may experience during his partner’s pregnancy ultimately made my husband feel more involved in the process of getting ready to welcome our first child to the family.
Best Book for Picking a Name
“The Baby Name Wizard” by Laura Wattenberg
Picking a baby name is hard! There are so many to choose from and the decision is just so permanent. Both my husband and I found a lot of baby name books to be overwhelming with their endless lists of alphabetized monikers. But “The Baby Name Wizard” was different. Instead of reading like a phone book, this inventive book uses some interesting research and computer models to help you find the perfect name based on things like the popularity of the name in question, its pronunciation(s), common nicknames, popular associations with the name, and even what sibling names would pair well with it.
Best Books if You Already Have a Child
“What Baby Needs” (Sears Children’s Library)
This is the second book on the list co-authored by beloved parenting and pregnancy guru Dr. Sears. It was recently given to me by a friend and we read it with our preschool-aged kids several times a week to help prepare them for baby #3. I love that it uses pictures and words written to their level to help them understand what to expect when baby arrives. I also love how it emphasizes the positive role siblings can play as helpers once “their baby” joins the family.
“Siblings without Rivalry” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
While not a baby or pregnancy book in the traditional sense, “Siblings without Rivalry” was first recommended to me by my pediatrician when I was pregnant with my second child. The book does a great job of walking parents through the tricky sibling dynamic and provides a lot of solid information on how to raise your kids to have a healthy and loving relationship with one another. It’s a definite must-read for any parent transitioning from one child to multiple children.
Best Book for Expecting Multiples
“When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplet, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy” by Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein
Multiples come with their own unique set of questions and challenges so I reached out to a good friend of mine who has 4 year old twins and a 2 year old to see what she found the most helpful during her first pregnancy. She responded that this was the only book she read, or felt the need to read, calling it, “basically the bible of multiples pregnancy.”
Best Parenting Books to Read Before Baby Arrives
“The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Harvey Karp
Of all the books on this list, this is the one I would deem the most helpful, the most essential, and the one I’m currently re-reading. While it’s wonderful for expectant moms to take charge of their pregnancy by reading all about their bodies and their experiences, the most valuable information out there is really what to do with that baby once he or she arrives. My mom friends and I found Dr. Harvey and his 5 S’s to soothing a crying baby (Swaddle, Side/Stomach, Shush, Swing, Suck) to be a total godsend. This pragmatic guide is filled with the type of useful information every sleep-deprived parent of a newborn is craving.
Before you start thinking I’ve gone all “new age” on you with this last pick, let me assure you that being a buddhist is not a prerequisite to getting something out of this book. (I’m not one, in case you’re wondering.) The focus here is on ways for new mothers to be more present with their children in the midst of their busy lives. It really was a game changer for me. So much so that I recommend it to every new parent I know and hosted a virtual book club on the sequel for mother’s of young children on my blog.
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