This is a book written by three OB/GYNs who are also moms. It gives a general but helpful overview of what to expect in each of the three trimester and the “fourth trimester” until baby is 3 months old. There are frequent anecdotes from both their practice and their own pregnancy experiences that help ground their advice and keep it interesting and real. Each of the authors had their own challenges with pregnancy and birth and share their stories briefly in the relevant chapters: one had fertility issues, one had a premature infant, etc.
I liked this book. It was written in a compassionate, informed way, and the fact that they wrote from both doctor and mom perspectives was very “you can do this!” Knowing that they, for lack of a better phrase, practice what they preach, gave it a unique spin. They are careful never to minimize the fear or anxiety you might feel, or, importantly, the physical pain, but do everything to reassure you that they did it and you can too!
Things I liked:
- The first trimester section is full of reassuring, useful information. When you’re newly pregnant, everything can seem scary! Plus, if you don’t know it already, you soon find out that the first trimester is when most miscarriages happen. Some books really hype the dangers of the first trimester, advising women to take as few risks as possible (which, while perhaps good advice, doesn’t really do anything to calm the nerves.) This one takes a much more comforting tone while being realistic about risks.
- While they go over the risks, they are very deliberate to remind you that the vast majority of pregnancies, even those with complications, result in a healthy baby and mom. The sidebar anecdotes from their own deliveries and from their OB/GYN practices are always in keeping with the topic and go a long way to reassure the reader.
- The book was comprehensive without being overwhelming and comforting without being condescending. The anecdotes were genuinely interesting, some downright funny.
- They discuss both hospital and “natural” options, explain what midwives and doulas do and why you might want one, encourage patients to research the options so they find a good fit, and in some places note when surgical interventions might be unnecessary. It is definitely written from a pro-hospital perspective–this is not a book about how to have a drug-free homebirth–but they are not anti-natural by any means, which was a nice balance. One of the doctors found that acupuncture was the only thing that relieved her round ligament pain, despite her skepticism. In short, the message was: if it works for you, do it!
- It is a great book for an introduction to basic hospital-birth terminology: what is an epistiostomy, what is an epidural, why might you want/not want one, when do doctors tend to induce, what exactly is involved in a c-section, what should you ask questions about, general recovery times, etc.
Things that made me go hmmmm:
- This book was published in 2011, but in my own pregnancy thus far I’ve learned about new technologies that this (and other) books don’t even mention! For instance, there are quite a few more non-invasive prenatal tests these days. So, obviously, this is not the end-all be-all, but it’s a very good starting point.
- While non-hospital and natural options are definitely not discouraged, there were some parts, especially in the third trimester chapters, where they were specifically left out of the discussion. I don’t think they even mention birth centers, for instance. Like I said above, this is a book with a mainstream OBGYN tone.
- This is not a book with numbers, stats, figures, and studies. It is anecdote-heavy, but all of the anecdotes are relevant and real. There are also pregnancy myths/facts scattered throughout the book as asides, which I found a little annoying because most of them were pretty silly, but I guess they were there to lighten the mood.
- But–a few of the “myths” gave me pause–for instance “Cesarean births are not financially beneficial to the doctor and hospital.” This might be true (I have my doubts), but this book certainly doesn’t dig into the research on the subject! So it seems a little jarring to read that as a “myth” when the other myths are things like “conceiving on a Tuesday means you will have a boy” or whatever.
I enjoyed Oster’s Expecting Better more because it scratched a specific itch, but if you are looking for a general, mainstream-but-not-condescending “how to be pregnant” book, this is a great one to pick up.