Best Pregnancy Books
I’ve been reading up a storm ever since I found out I was pregnant. This seems to be a regular occurrence for most women, but what I’ve realized is that there’s only so many books you can read with the 9-10 months you have to prepare for baby.
And, let’s be real—as much as you want to stay on top of things, nothing will prepare you for your first little one!
I’ve been getting tons of questions on Instagram about pregnancy-related topics, including books and supplements. I’ll be writing a post on supplements in the coming months, so for now, here are my picks (and top three points for each) on my favorite books thus far!
They are listed in no particular order. Enjoy!
1. How To Conceive Naturally And Have a Healthy Pregnancy After 30 by Christa Orecchio and Willow Buckley
I always recommend everyone start with this book, whether you’re trying to conceive or recently found out you’re pregnant. I’ve purchased this book for several of my friends who have had trouble conceiving, because let’s face it—getting pregnant isn’t easy. My story is the exception rather than the rule, but I was also doing the prep work months before we decided to “pull the goalie.” (I can’t believe I just used that phrase.)
Christa Orecchio, one of the authors, is a dear friend of mine and How To Conceive Naturally is on par with the rest of her amazing work.
Why I love this book:
- There are several chapters related to perfecting preconception and how to boost one’s fertility, including supplement and diet recommendations. Preconception isn’t a hot topic, but it should be. It takes work to become a baby-making machine!
- These recommendations continue for each trimester. So for example, now that I’m in my third trimester, the book recommends focusing on calcium, fat, protein, and hydration.
- There’s plenty of delicious recipes to support you throughout pregnancy, including a Salty Chia Seed Electrolyte Drink that I plan on consuming a lot this trimester and through labor (dehydration is often a major cause for low amniotic fluid).
2. Expecting Better by Emily Oster
I’ve written about this book in previous posts, and it’s one of my favorites for good reason. There’s a lot of BS surrounding pregnancy, and it’s important to know what advice is legitimate versus old-school thought.
Emily does an amazing job of debunking pregnancy myths and provides the facts so you can feel confident in your decisions. A lot of what we hear we shouldn’t do is simply repeated nonsense, even from doctors.
Why I love this book:
- Emily tells it like it is, and proves her points wisely. For example, she discusses drinking during pregnancy and lays out the facts, stating that there is no good evidence that light drinking during pregnancy negatively impacts your baby. Personally, I’ve dabbled in wine every now and then, and don’t feel one once of guilt about it. (Speed, type of alcohol, and frequency do matter.)
- Emily also breaks down prenatal screening and testing, a matter that can come with judgment from other women if you are not educated on the different types of tests. Between the routine blood screening, amniocentesis, and CVS, Emily breaks down the type of tests and real risks for mother and baby. I decided not to disclose what we ended up doing, but I will say that we did more than the routine blood test for personal family history reasons.
- One of my favorite aspects of this book is how Emily breaks down everything you need to know during labor. I actually based a lot of my birth plan off of her recommendations in this book. For example, we would like to wait 12 hours to induce labor if my water breaks before contractions start. I’ll also be doing intermittent fetal monitoring (so I can walk around and do what my body desires during contractions) and have asked for little to no intervention during labor (no routine episiotomy or forceps or anything that may interrupt my body and my baby’s natural process).
3. Real Food For Mother And Baby By Nina Planck
Obviously, food was a major priority prior to pregnancy for me as a nutritionist, but has become even more important over the past seven months. Similar to Christa’s book, Nina breaks down the types of nutrients and foods you need to be eating to nourish mother and baby by trimester.
She also debunks myths, like why you should consume low mercury fish during pregnancy, and also discusses having the occasional glass of wine. I’m into the books that keep it real and Nina is definitely a straight shooter!
Why I love this book:
- The amount of vitamins and minerals we need in order to make a baby (and keep the baby without miscarriage) can be overwhelming. Nina makes eating for fertility simple, and also lays out nutrients to focus on for each trimester.
- Nina also offers up advice on what to do during certain aspects of labor, from the atmosphere, to delayed cord cutting, to swabbing the baby with bacteria if a C-section is needed.
- Her take on baby’s first foods is one of the most important aspects of this book. Focusing on foods high in protein, iron, and zinc are essential for baby, and Nina explains what foods to focus on when your baby is ready to eat solids.
4. Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
For parenting/sleeping, I’ve been reading this and eventually The Happiest Baby On The Block by Harvey Karp. In Bringing Up Bebe, Pamela explains the large discrepancy in how American children behave compared to French children (and why the gap exists).
There are many reasons sleep has become a huge concern for American parents—mainly because sleep training has taken a back seat and everyone is tired AF. Pamela brings this conversation to light and there’s one piece of advice that everyone I know has sworn by from this book (read on!).
Why I love this book:
- Pamela talks a lot about respecting the rhythms of your baby’s sleep. This is something I had never thought of—originally I believed it was my responsibility to teach the baby how to sleep. Silly of me, right? Babies know how to sleep, but it’s our job as parents to learn and understand our baby’s unique rhythm. Now, I get it!
- Her best piece of advice? Introducing “the pause.” This means that from birth at night, you give your baby the chance to self-soothe without automatically assuming something is wrong and running to them. Instead of trying to fix what may be “wrong” with the baby, simply observe. She refers to this concept as sleep teaching, instead of sleep training. As difficult as this may be for new parents, Ryan and I are committed to adopting “the pause” from birth, and have instructed our baby nurse to do the same.
- A chapter I especially enjoyed was titled “The perfect mother doesn’t exist.” As someone who strives for perfection to a fault, I know this is something I’m going to have to work on. I’ve already been trying to figure out what my mom/work life balance is going to look like, and all the things that come along with having a newborn. As much as I can, my goal is to have Ryan and I continue to live our lives with a baby in addition, instead of having the baby run our lives. For example, as soon as we can take the baby on a plane (at 3-4 months), we’re heading to Florida for a long weekend because that would be our norm in winter. We’re also still planning on going on an anniversary trip in June, and will be leaving the baby with my Mom for a week. Scary, I know, especially since she’ll only be seven months old—but preserving our connection and marriage is equally as important, and I know my Mom will love taking care of our daughter. Win-win, and these actions will also help me let loose and feel like I don’t have to be so perfect all the time in my decision-making.
5. Let Them Eat Dirt by B. Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta
I have a confession: I’m a total clean freak. I wish it weren’t the case, but it runs in my family. My grandmother is 85 years old and her house is continuously spotless. My mom wouldn’t let us out of our rooms until our beds were made. Toys were always put away before bed. And, for better or worse, I ended up just like them!
When it comes to raising children, I decided I didn’t want to be one of those moms who carried around hand sanitizer and was a crazy person about people holding my baby. Absolutely not. So in an effort to educate myself, I picked up Let Them Eat Dirt. And it saved me.
Why I love this book:
- While Let Them Eat Dirt is a bit scientific, the overall messages are great when it comes to helping parents understand gut health, microbes, and how our lifestyles impact our children’s’ health.
- One of my key takeaways regarding birth was the concept of seeding. If everything goes wrong (according to my personal birth plan) and I end up with a C-section, seeding is the process by which your doctor or doula inserts sterile gauze into the mother’s vagina, leaves it there for a few minutes, places it in a sterile container, and after baby is born, said gauze is swabbed all over baby’s skin and mouth. A big reason to avoid a C-section and opt for a vagina birth is to pass on the microbes of mom to baby, which supposedly enhances their immune system, and seeding has provided moms who end up having a C-section with a way to do this. I know—sounds crazy, but it’s becoming more and more popular!
- The book also dives into tips for solid foods for baby, as well as the role sugar plays in destroying our microbes. I’ve been eating pretty healthy throughout pregnancy, but sugar has definitely been a downfall of mine. This book was a great reminder to keep added sugars to a minimum!
This was the first book I dabbled in during pregnancy. It’s not necessarily a beach read by any means, but it does help you learn what to expect as the weeks progress. And, once again, the women who wrote this book keep it real. From pregnancy farts, to hormonal outrage, to swallowing your prenatal vitamins without gagging, these ladies helped me in so many ways.
I’m not into clinical books, but this one was helpful in the first trimester when I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t listen to any of the advice when it came to diet or exercise, but it was cool to learn about the development of the fetus week by week and have as a resource throughout my pregnancy.
Other books I’ve read or plan on reading:
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth & Beyond
Precious Little Sleep: The Complete Baby Sleep Guide for Modern Parents
The Sh*t No One Tells You: A Guide to Surviving Baby's First Year