When you find out you’re pregnant for the first time, countless thoughts rush through your head. You might be wondering what the first step should be, what lifestyle changes you need to make immediately, or what it will be like to undergo drastic body changes.
Whether you have already taken the test and found out you’re pregnant for sure, or simply plan to become pregnant soon, you are likely already aware of the basic rules for taking care of your baby and yourself. Quit smoking immediately, get plenty of rest, and pay attention to your nutrition; these are a few of the obvious guidelines.
But what about the finer details that you haven’t already learned or heard about? Pregnancy is exciting, miraculous, and has the added benefit of bringing out the charity and kindness in those you interact with. But the experience can also be a bit stressful, not just for your body, but for your mind.
A New Stage of Life
As soon as you know you’re expecting, your whole life is different from that moment onward. Your ways of working, living, and playing all change due to this new, tiny person you have yet to meet. The colleague at work you’ve never interacted with before, the barista at your favorite coffee shop, and that random person at the farmer’s market all suddenly want to talk to you about intimate, private subjects.
They might ask you whether you’ll be breastfeeding, or how many pounds you’ve put on. They might even give you details about their past pregnancy that you never would have thought to ask for.
But it isn’t only social interactions that change when you’re pregnant. There are countless points to consider during this unfamiliar and exhilarating point in your life, and many plans to unravel and formulate. Plenty of time-consuming tasks are in your future, including ultrasounds, blood tests, and regular visits to the doctor. You’ll also want to think about staying physically healthy by introducing some gentle yoga, educational classes, or techniques for relaxation.
You might experience the common urge to get more sleep, enjoy your time of freedom where going out doesn’t require a babysitter, and revel in the silence while it lasts. There’s also work to think about, since pre-maternity paid leave doesn’t exist for most, and having a baby is quite expensive.
When you’re a new expecting mother, growing your first baby inside your body, you have learning to do. This doesn’t require you to become an expert, but being as prepared as you can is a must, and books can guarantee that you are.
Becoming Your Best Self
Books on pregnancy are great for bringing some cohesion to the two separate parts of you: the familiar self you’re used to, and the new mother who is supporting a tiny life. Understandably, you want to be as informed and confident as you can during this process, while also being inspired instead of scared, and feeling excited instead of stressed about your future child. You want to know exactly what’s going on with your body apart from the obvious expectation of a larger belly. The answer to all of this is to read the right books on pregnancy.
This is especially important for people who have never been parents before or who don’t have much experience with babies. You need to be as informed as you can about keeping your baby as healthy as possible and caring for yourself during this process, both psychologically and physically. If you already love to read, you’re one step ahead and gathering information will be easy.
However, even if you aren’t used to reading much, once you find out you’ll be raising a child, your attitude may change drastically. Along with all of the excitement and anticipation, you might feel scared or feel as though you have no clue what to do.
This is completely normal and nothing to worry about. The more you find out about pregnancy from credible, recommended sources, the less you will worry. But all it takes is a quick Google search or trip to the library to discover that your options for books on this subject are overwhelming and endless. The solution to this is to focus on quality over quantity. What is it important to make sure your first-time pregnancy book includes?
What to Look for in First-Time Pregnancy Books
- Up-to-date information: When you get a book for your first pregnancy, make sure that the information in it has been updated with the latest, most relevant data available. Ideally, this information will be based on thorough, credible scientific research and studies done by professionals. On the other hand, you may need a guide with a personal touch and anecdotes in order to absorb the information, so take this into account along with the data included. Remember that what was commonly accepted as the best pregnancy wisdom 20 years ago may not be as reliable now. If you choose an older book, that’s fine, but make sure that it’s been updated somewhat recently.
- A friendly, but realistic tone: We’ve all heard the rumors about the pains and concerns of pregnancy. It’s no secret that many aspects of this journey aren’t very comfortable and that some can be downright scary. The right choice for your first pregnancy book will cover what you need to know in a no-nonsense, realistic way, while maintaining a friendly and non-intimidating tone. It’s perfectly possible to give necessary information about what physical and emotional difficulties to expect while pregnant, and in birth, without being overly negative or sugarcoating.
- Various stages: What you need to think about in the first trimester is different from what you should consider in the third. Find a book that covers all stages of pregnancy in detail. For example, which parts of your baby are developing 4 months into pregnancy? When can you expect to feel your baby kicking? When is your baby able to hear you from inside the womb? Questions like these are great to know.
- Advice from experienced moms: It helps to know that the book you’re reading is coming from an authoritative and experienced source, and who knows more about being pregnant than someone who has been there before? The ideal book for you will include input or tips from people who know exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes.
We’ve compiled a list of the best pregnancy books out there for first-time moms and what you can learn from each one.
- What to Expect When You’re Expecting
- Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too!
- Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know
- The Pregnancy Countdown Book: Nine Months of Practical Tips, Useful Advice, and Uncensored Truths
- The Whole 9 Months: A Week-By-Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide with Recipes for a Healthy Start
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Heidi Murkoff first thought of the concept for this classic book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, in the midst of her first time being pregnant. Desperate for advice and input, she was having a hard time finding reassurance or answers to her questions in what she was reading.
She then became determined to create a book for helping other new mothers rest easier through their big life change, and delivered this book concept only hours before giving birth to her child, Emma.
As a new mom, you want to make sure you think of everything to prevent any unnecessary stress, and this book gives you plenty of points to consider that perhaps you’ve never thought of before. The back pages come with charts that will help you track your size and weight, which is important information to give your midwife or doctor.
It also gives you information about coping with complications in your pregnancy and for preparing to have another baby in the future, if and when you’re ready.
Many moms are extremely nervous when they first find out they’re pregnant and want to make sure they meticulously follow every pregnancy “rule” out there. A book like this that gives details about all ups or downs you can expect, along with the fears you may have, is an invaluable resource.
A reference that you can go back to countless times throughout your 9-month journey, this book has a great flow and tone to it. Another plus is that this guide is not only for mothers and includes tips that will help dads, as well.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting is perhaps the most popular and well-known book on this subject due to its trademark humor, empathy, and warmth. It will take you through the choices you face with birthing practices, the changes of your pregnancy and body, and more. The medical information in the book is updated and covers medication safety, birth control for postpartum, and prenatal screenings.
You will also find information on more modern developments such as raw diets, juice bars, e-cigarettes, and the trend of taking photos of developing baby bumps.
Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too!
This book is unique in that it’s written from the perspective of multiple doctors, offering a more scientific approach to the subject of pregnancy. The Mayo Clinic is the largest (and first ever) not-for-profit, integrated group practice.
It includes doctors from all specialties in the medical field, working together to provide their patients with quality care. The system has been brought together with a common vision and the concept of always putting patients’ needs first.
For women who prefer a resource with accurate, authoritative information from an undeniably reliable source, this is a great choice. The authors are a group of experts on pregnancy who find immense satisfaction and excitement in the subject of birth. This resource provides readers with over 500 pages of relevant, useful information about parenting and pregnancy.
This includes weekly updates on the growth of the baby, a guide for symptoms, a calendar on the pregnancy, monthly body changes for the mother, emotional differences to be expected, and an overview of the choices faced while pregnant.
Each monthly portion gives a section with any issues that might come up and when it’s best to give your doctor a call. The guide is illustrated with informative and accurate depictions of your baby’s size and how it looks at each stage. This book also includes advice on becoming pregnant, planning your meals, safe and healthy exercises to do, the general subject of parenthood, and using medications.
In addition, you will discover the answers to embarrassing or difficult questions you were a bit ashamed to ask your friends or family. The style of the book is professional, yet clear and easy to understand and aims to be as objective and informative as possible.
The information is split into chronological order detailing subjects such as the birth itself, breastfeeding, parenthood, possible complications in addition to the information on being pregnant.
Rather than having to skim through the entire book for the information you need, or guess where it is, you will find its location in the well-organized reference guide. Every section comes with its own table of contents, so you will easily find the data you’re searching for each time.
The book has a detailed section on problems and discomforts that come along with pregnancy, but it’s written in an informative, rather than depressing or negative way. The Mayo Clinic Guide to Healthy Pregnancy is straightforward and takes a no-nonsense approach, describing the way that certain aspects of pregnancy are painful, without sugarcoating it.
It also manages to stay upbeat in these sections. This book includes detailed information, with accompanying diagrams, on prenatal testing and presents it in a non-biased, neutral way. This helps equip mothers with the knowledge necessary for making crucial decisions themselves when the time comes.
Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know
When she was expecting a child, Emily studied the existing information on the general guidelines and rules of being pregnant and found that they were lacking at best, and completely wrong at worst.
She aimed to debunk myths and set the facts straight on issues such as the effect of caffeine on the body while pregnant, to some of the unexpected risks of pregnant gardening.
For women who are hoping to have a relaxed, healthy, and informed pregnancy (perhaps even with a bit of wine every once in a while), this book is a goldmine of useful data.
Emily Oster takes a tone based on examining evidence, explaining scientific methodology and studies, and coming to reasonable, logical conclusions based on this data. She isn’t a medical professional, but she is an award-winning economist, meaning that she is highly skilled in interpreting and generally making sense of data.
The author manages to keep a sympathetic, humorous, and accessible tone throughout her book, while remaining as thorough and objective as possible. She goes over the fact that most pregnancy advice is absolutist or based on “black or white” principles, when it doesn’t always have to be that way.
Rather than depending on hearsay or rumors, she studies and reviews hard data to draw reasonable conclusions from, not telling pregnant women what choices to make, but giving them the necessary tools to make decisions themselves. During this magical and often unnerving time, information based on hard science can be a godsend, and just the peace of mind you need to feel right about the choices you make in pregnancy.
In this clearly written guide, you will find insights as to what to expect at various labor stages, and tools for teaching yourself how to gather information in the correct way, rationally and without unnecessary bias. This is one subject it pays to have the facts straight on. For any woman who has ever wanted to know why certain “facts” of pregnancy are repeated so often, this logically written book will clear the air.
The Pregnancy Countdown Book: Nine Months of Practical Tips, Useful Advice, and Uncensored Truths
Susan Magee lives in Philadelphia and has written several books about nonfiction topics. The Pregnancy Countdown Book was written with the help of Kara Nakisbendi, a certified gynecologist, licensed obstetrician, and mother.
This book helps the reader count down each big milestone of pregnancy at every stage, and gives a single page of useful information for every day you are pregnant. This includes tips from mothers and doctors, amusing quotes and anecdotes, and uncensored, detailed tidbits that most other books don’t have. This guide makes a great gift for all expecting mothers, regardless of age.
The author gets right to the point in her writing, avoiding euphemisms or tiptoeing around issues. In her opinion, pregnancy is not complicated, but it is difficult from the beginning, in the middle, and right up until the end.
She goes over the rewards you can expect in the process, without attempting to make it sound easier than it really is or pretend that it’s always perfect.
Among the useful gems in this guide are subjects that most pregnant women wonder about but aren’t sure how to ask, including activities that are and are not okay in pregnancy, foods to avoid or eat more of, when it’s not okay to fly anymore, the right posture to sleep in, varicose veins, when and how to tell your family and friends the big news, and more.
You will find tips on recommended websites, tricks, resources, and pregnancy products. If you have a tendency to worry and feel anxious about the unknown, this guide will set your mind at ease. Both the author and co-author have experience with motherhood and know what you should do, and when, along this milestone of a life journey.
One very unique feature of this book is the fact that it goes over the relationship of the expecting parents, what each will go through, and different ways to relate to each other in the 250 days of pregnancy. The tone of this book is light-hearted and easy to digest due to the one-page-per-day format.
The sections in the book with quotes from experienced mothers are timeless, unique, useful, and are guaranteed to make you laugh aloud at least a few times. The book comes with quality graphics and honest information about the emotional and physical changes you’ll be going through, successfully balancing scientific information with a personal tone and touch.
Whether you are trying to become pregnant or are already on your way to being a mother, this candid account of the experience will help you plan everything out. It’s written in a way that feels as though your best friend or older sister is guiding you through the lesser-known details of what it’s like to grow a baby.
Keep in mind that you may find it helpful to read this book along with something that is heavier on solid medical data and details and that some may find that this is a bit too informal. Depending on your reading style, this could be what you’re looking for or you might find it lacking. The best way to receive balanced information for making the best choice is to get as much input as you can.
The Whole 9 Months: A Week-By-Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide with Recipes for a Healthy Start
Dr. Jennifer Lang has decades of experience in infant and maternal health. She is a mother, activist, and OB-GYN, and knows all about pre-natal nutrition as it relates to both the mom and the new baby. Dana Angelo White, the other author of The Whole 9 Months, is a fitness and nutrition expert, journalist, and dietician.
Her specialties are recipe development and culinary nutrition and she has plenty of experience with nutrition for toddlers and babies.
Their book is all you need to know about the correct nutrition throughout your pregnancy and answers your burning questions in regards to each trimester. It gives simple and thorough guidelines for healthy eating, new and relevant research on the subject, and advice from experienced and knowledgeable moms.
Although finding the right data can be overwhelming, especially to first time mothers, this book lets you know that it can be incredibly easy to make the right nutritional choices for yourself and your growing baby.
This book will give you information on the nutrients your little one needs, the necessities for daily consumption, and which foods will deliver all that is needed. It comes with over 100 easy, quick recipes for various diet preferences, including gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian, along with the nutritional content of each meal. If you’re looking for ways to combat cravings and nausea during these 9 months, you will find helpful tricks, and food swap suggestions and ideas.
You will find guidelines for what you should and should not eat while you’re expecting, the best choices you can make for staying healthy with gestational diabetes, and even what to eat for stimulating the production of breast milk. In the first section of this guide, you will get comprehensive information on how to remain a healthy mother and what you should expect and plan for nutrition-wise, not only during, but after pregnancy.
You will find thorough details on minerals and vitamins, eating habits, exercise and fitness, discomforts, gaining weight, organic nutrition, carbs, and fats.
In the book’s second section, you will find information split up by each trimester, given week by week and detailing each part of your pregnancy. This will include information about the size of your baby, the necessary nutrients for keeping him or her at her healthiest, which parts of the baby are developing at which times and what you should eat to help these developments, answers to common questions, snack suggestions, and which super-foods to include in your diet at each stage.
The third part of this guide will provide readers with delicious, easy, and healthy recipes to make, along with clear and beautiful photos. We have all heard what we should or shouldn’t eat while pregnant, but this information seems to change with the times. That makes this book a great resource for educating yourself on the basics.
It equips you with the information needed to make your own informed decisions on what types of food to buy, how to read labels correctly, and what exactly to eat based on that new knowledge. There is no reason to think of pregnancy as a restrictive time in terms of what you can enjoy and this book proves it.
5 Tips on Managing First-Time Pregnancy Stress
Being nervous about having your first child is completely normal. Even if you are a bit stressed out at this time, you can relax and know that you will still more than likely have a perfectly healthy child when the time comes. Your body is going through some completely new changes and it’s natural to feel unsure.
However, if you are feeling constantly anxious and stressed out, it might be a good idea to ask your doctor or midwife for advice. Consistent and extreme levels of stress could be bad for the baby. There are, of course, countless factors at play that go into the health of your child, but the sooner you tackle the issue of anxiety and stress, the better.
So, how can you make sure you are as relaxed as possible during this time?
- Focus and rest: It’s healthy for both your baby and you if you can figure out how to relax at will, and there’s no need to feel guilty about prioritizing that. Take some much-needed time to place your full attention on your new baby and think of this as spending quality time with him or her. This can include singing or chatting with your future child. Starting around 23 weeks, they will be able to hear your voice. Doing this will help you get a head start on bonding with your baby when it’s their time to come into the world. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. When you feel wiped out, go to sleep. It’s normal to feel tired a lot of the time since your body is constantly working to help the baby develop. This means sleep is your friend.
- Discuss your worries: When you’re feeling worried about the baby, or something entirely unrelated, speak to your midwife or a close friend. There’s no reason to feel afraid of admitting your feelings. When you can open up and talk about your feelings in a candid way, those around you can supply the support necessary to help you through it. Don’t forget to keep your partner in the loop, as well. You might even find out that you are experiencing similar concerns or that they are worried about something you had no clue about. Discussing these issues will enable you both to calm down, feel better, and become closer to each other. Getting in touch with other expecting mothers is also a helpful way to find support and discuss the experiences you are both going through.
- Pay Attention to what you Eat: The right nutrition is a must for not only your body, but your mentality and moods. A diet with plenty of minerals, vitamins, and omega-3s will help keep your emotions balanced and manageable. The omega-3s in seafood and oily types of fish might aid you in reducing depression, so try to eat sardines, tuna, or salmon at least two times a week. Tryptophan, an amino acid, is also thought to be great for boosting moods by raising serotonin and melatonin in the brain. These chemicals help with your sleeping patterns and overall mental well-being. Tryptophan is not something that your body makes on its own and can only be delivered through your diet choices. Eat plenty of cheese, yoghurt, eggs, chicken, seeds, and nuts to get it. Keep in mind that staying hydrated is also important for your mood and general health, so drink plenty of water.
- Be prepared to give birth: Finding out more about what to expect in various stages of labor can help you get a grip on your stress about being pregnant. You can find this information by signing up for relevant birthing classes on top of reading pregnancy books. In addition, you can take classes on the internet for free. If you plan to have a caesarean section, get all of the details on what to expect from your obstetrician or midwife and construct a plan around it so you feel completely in control. If you plan to give birth in a designated birth center or at a hospital, you can probably visit it before your due date. If you can’t get a real, walking tour, try looking online for extra information. Feeling somewhat familiar with the actual place you’ll be giving birth can help you relax about the process. Talking with professionals, in addition to your friends and family members, is the best way to put your worries about birth to rest and feel prepared.
- Stay fit with exercise: It’s a common rumor that pregnant women shouldn’t exercise. Not only is it safe to do while pregnant, but it’s also great for lowering stress and increasing feelings of well-being. Even if you have never exercised before, now is a great time to make that change and start a fitness plan. This should be a gentle form of exercise such as swimming, which helps you stay toned but goes easy on the joints. Check around to see if your local pool has aqua-natal classes available. If this doesn’t apply to the area you live in, or you find that you don’t have access to a swimming pool, try to walk a minimum of 20 minutes each and every day.Yoga for pregnant women is another option to look into and helps not only with stretching and toning, but with techniques for meditation, relaxation, and breathing. Attempt to insert fitness into your schedule as soon as possible. While you work, stand up and stretch your legs, walking whenever you have the chance, particularly if you have an office desk job. When you have your lunch breaks, make it a point to step outside to enjoy the fresh air for a few minutes. Doing all of this will help you get a handle on your anxiety about pregnancy.
Sources & Further Reading
- The ultimate pregnancy to-do list: First trimester, BabyCenter
- 5 Simple Pregnancy Exercises for Every Trimester, Fit Pregnancy
- About Heidi Murkoff, What to Expect
- Emily Oster, Wikipedia
- Jennifer Lang, Amazon Author Profile