This week, I met with a young woman who is beginning her journey with pregnancy, child bearing, and starting a family. This is an exciting time and I'm happy to help young families as they make this transition. She asked me a question that I haven't been asked before, "what should I read during my pregnancy?"
As an avid reader, I wanted to recommend something. But, the truth is this: I haven't read any pregnancy books! I've been pushing this off until my own family becomes pregnant. I still wanted to answer the question, so I took it to my social media community and they showed up with some great responses.
First, they recommended books! This seemed like an obvious first response, and they had good reasons for each one that was recommended.
- What to Expect When You're Expecting is a perennial classic and best-seller, but it receives some criticism for being too "harsh, punitive, and almost like a parody". Or as a friend on social media put it: "What to expect when you're expecting scares the living crap out of me."
- The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy is a guide written by Doctors who are Parents, too. This is "good for all the technical stuff", per social media.
- The Wonder Weeks
- Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and also the Guide to Breastfeeding
- The Happiest Baby on the Block
- HypnoBirthing, Fourth Edition
- Bringing Up Bébé, which gives a French perspective on parenting on child raising.
- The Expectant Father, which is a dad's guide to pregnancy
- You and Your Baby, written by an Ob/Gyn, Dr. Laura Riley
- Expecting Better, a somewhat anti-establishment take on pregnancy and the birthing process that re-examines some of the hard and fast rules of pregnancy put forth by the medical establishment.
- Nursing Your Baby, recommended by a Nurse Practitioner in the group.
However, some of the respondents in the group said don't read anything! "Too many opinions, too much to think about. Just go with the flow and trust your instincts." In fact, this sentiment was written by a family medicine doctor and colleague of mine, and it was echoed by another family medicine doctor.
This "read nothing" approach is an interesting take on the subject, but I second guess their thrust here because they have a significant amount of medical knowledge and practical experience in taking care of pregnant women and their infants. Most lay people and non-doctors lack this knowledge and experience, and that's why non-doctors gravitate towards reading books about pregnancy, child-bearing, and child-rearing: the unknown can be frightening! And some of that fright can be alleviated by reading and learning from the experiences of others.
Finally, people mentioned subscribing to daily/weekly emails or downloading certain apps. This was best described by a friend on social media: "I read a few different books (i.e. What to Expect), but I found that subscribing to receive emails was most useful (what to expect, the bump). They gave quick summaries of important issues. Also, pregnancy apps have tons of good info and daily updates on what's going on in your pregnancy at that time." Another person recommended the BabyCenter app and the BabyCenter website.
My recommendation? As I said, I haven't read any of these books, used any of these apps, or carried a child to full term myself, so take this cum grano salis: pick 2 - 3 resources and enjoy the experience of pregnancy!
Thanks for reading and thanks to the community of moms, parents, and grandparents that responded!
- Paul Thomas, MD