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Best Pregnancy Books

Updated on April 23, 2007

So you've found out you're pregnant and now are looking for the best pregnancy books. I can tell you this is a highly subjective area. I recommend setting aside some time in your local big box or used bookstore. Grab a decaf latte and peruse the shelves. There are as many ways to approach pregnancy as there are pregnant women. Find whatever speaks to you.

That said, I'm offering up my own favorites here along with some recommendations from ladies who know. Two doulas weigh in on their favorites below.

My Favorite Pregnancy Books

Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy is hands-down my favorite. That should tell you a lot about me! But here's why. I am a big believer in book learning. I learned how to windsurf out of a book - I swear it. So, when I found out I was pregnant, I soaked up every book I could get my hands on. There is a lot of information out there and I took it all in. Problem was, it was all so impersonal. Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy really is like sitting down with a girlfriend, and if you don't have the good fortune of having a personal girlfriend who a) has been through it before, b) happens to be pregnant with you, and c) is willing to hash it out for you - then you need this book. Plus, it is good for laughs.

This is the book that explains why you really do need to take that laxative they give you at the hospital. Seriously.

Warning: Outdated fashion advice - aren't we so lucky we've got more to choose from than tapered leg catsuits?

Write It Down!

Whether for yourself or for a gift, I would definitely pick up some sort of pregnancy journal and encourage daily entries. The mundane daily life during pregnancy is something worthy of being captured in words. This is a beautiful book by artist Anne Geddes.

The Classic

Another big favorite of mine is What to Expect When You're Expecting. According to, it has sold over 10 million copies over the last eighteen years so someone agrees with me. However, there are a ton of people out there who are simply sick of this book, feel it over generalizes, and scares expectant moms. Oh well, you decide. It is jam packed with information in the form of month by month. One caveat - you will not look exactly like the picture so if you are prone to obsess over such things, you may want to steer clear. Doesn't matter what you think of it anyway because no baby shower is complete without a copy. If you don't but it, someone else will.

Amazing Photography

For pure awe inspiring viewing pleasure, you must have A Child is Born. This one's also great for sharing with the big brother or sister to be. This book came out almost 40 years ago, but it's just as amazing today.

Just For Laughs

Okay - for all out laughs, check out this oldie but goody. Dave Barry was a young dad when he wrote it and to me it's spot on. First timers may not appreciate the humor as much, but in my opinion you can't go wrong with giggles. Dad's will like it too!

Doulas’ Choices

Kim Palena James says:

I'll tell you what my latest favorite is: Deliver This! Make the Childbirth Choice That's Right for You...No Matter What Everyone Else Thinks. Not exactly an earth-momma read and that's precisely what I like about it. There is a different movement of late in the whole how-to-have-your-baby genre and I think it smacks of a newer feminism.

This book is the perfect example of presuming that every woman is smart enough to follow her heart, gather the information or stories she needs to make her decision, and then decide what is best for her and her family. Plus, Marisa Cohen is a bloody excellent writer and is able to take a values and judgement-laden topic and deliver her information without, well, values and judgement. Nice wit and humor as well. Fabulous!

My favorite earth-momma type book? I'm going to have to go with the classics here: Ina May Gaskin's Spiritual Midwifery.

I also like Pam England's Birthing from Within.

My other doula contact HATES the What to Expect books. (Told ya!) But she does like anything by Sheila Kitzinger, who wrote The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth and Rediscovering Birth. Anything by Sears or Sears and Sears is good and much more accepted by the "what to expect" folks.

She also recommends Henci Goer's The Thinking Women's Guide to a Better Birth, but says that Sheila is a little more mainstream.

The name Penny Simkin came up a lot. She is the mother doula and one of the founders of DONA International. She has written or collaborated on many great books.

Read more from Lela Davidson

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  • Paul Edmondson profile image

    Paul Edmondson 10 years ago from Burlingame, CA

    This may seem funny, but the most helpful book I read for our first baby was the "The Nursing Mother's Companion". It taught me enough about breast feeding that I was able to help with two important issues. The first one was helping to get the baby to latch on for its first feeding and the second was to help identify a breast infection called mastitis caused by blocked ducts.