What to Expect When You’re Expecting is iconic. It is the title of a movie. It was the book Hugh Grant was reading in “Nine Months.” It is the book everyone rushes out to buy the minute the test is positive. And it is absolutely the last book I would recommend buying a first-time parent. Speaking as someone who read it during my first pregnancy, it terrified the crap out of me.
When you find out you are pregnant, it is a big, scary deal, even with a planned pregnancy. You are growing a person. Everyone you know (and many you don’t) will suddenly recall horror stories about pregnancy and labour, and are compelled to share them with you in gory detail. In case you aren’t nervous enough, What to Expect will bring week by week hypochondria to the experience, telling you not only how big the baby is and how your body has changed, but also what horrible crisis can occur to you and your fetus this week! Preeclampsia! Placenta previa! Oligohydramnios!
Some doctor’s offices (including my own OB-GYN at the time) not only don’t suggest it as recommended reading, but in fact discourage expectant mothers from reading it. The authors are not medical doctors, and there is a lot in there that is questionable, including many iffy holistic treatments. Also, as a Canadian, this book is aimed at the US market, and our health care system and options are different enough that it makes a big difference.
Here are my recommendations for pregnancy books here in Canada, based on my own reading and experiences – please feel free to comment with your own recommendations:
Canada’s Pregnancy Care Book. This book was fantastic. A solid, reassuring book put out by the amazing pregnancy clinic at Mount Sinal Hospital that covers a wide range of topics and has lots of practical information. They don’t assume that you have a ton of money, and there are great tips for healthy eating and fitness during pregnancy that you can use even with a tight budget. They cover complications, but you are more likely to feel reassured by the information than alarmed. Good for both reading through from cover to cover, and for keeping on hand as a resource. This is my number one recommendation for first-time parents.
Canadian Medical Association’s Complete Book of Mother & Baby Care. If you know absolutely nothing about pregnancy or babies, this is the book for you (and me). I was the first of my friends to have a child, and I had literally changed one diaper in my life before my daughter was born. This book has step-by-step instructions and photos for all the things that people just assume you know. How to express breast milk. How to properly clean and change a baby. How a diaper shirt works. How to give a baby a bath (imagine trying to wash oiled jello that is actively trying to escape). This book is why my children are still alive.
The Mother of All Baby Books. This is a great book as a reference – it has really handy charts and a great list of resources and services. If I could get just those things, it would be perfect. The other parts I found more annoying, because the author is very pushy about some topics. It made for good practice in taking the advice I found helpful and ignoring the rest.