I’ve been a reader my whole life. It’s one of the habits I got from my mom, I just can’t put a good book down! In the first trimester, when I felt terrible, I would take afternoon breaks during the week and every weekend just to read. And, naturally, I wanted to read about pregnancy! I asked my friends and asked on Instagram what books they recommended and I’ve rounded up the 10 most recommended in this post. For the ones that I read, I added my thoughts and the ones that I didn’t, I summarized what others told me about them and why they loved them!
I think there is a fine line between being informed and feeling confident about what you’ll experience for nine months and feeling completely overwhelmed by information. And that’s especially true when you start to realize that some books say the complete opposite things on the same topic! You’ll get a feel pretty quickly about what type of content resonates with you so dive into those books and leave the rest. I also highly recommend working with a doula who can help you make sense of it all as it relates to YOUR pregnancy. (I used Piedmont Doulas in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.)
10 Best Rated Pregnancy Books
1. Expecting Better by Emily Oster
This was the first book I read when I found out I was pregnant. I never even bothered to buy What to Expect When You’re Expecting since I’d heard from so many people how outdated it was. I enjoyed the writing style of this and the presentation of data so I could make the best decision for me. She discusses things like drinking coffee and wine, eating sushi and deli meat, and the different types of medication you can safely take (and those you should speak to your doctor about). She also shares her very short birth plan and her if this/then that scenarios.
2. Real Food For Pregnancy by Lily Nichols RDN, CDE
This was the second book I read and I loved it. It didn’t necessarily change how I eat since I already eat pretty well, but I did end up buying a prenatal vitamin that was recommended in here! If you’re already interested in nutrition or you don’t know anything about nutrition but want to learn, this is a great resource. Generally speaking, it promotes a high-protein, almost paleo diet but does touch upon some vegetarian diet tips. But, if you’re a vegan, this isn’t the book for you!
3. The Birth Partner by Penny Simpkin
This was the third book I read and I LOVED it. It explained pregnancy and childbirth so incredibly well that when we took our labor and delivery class with Piedmont Doulas, that class felt like a refresher, not brand new info. This is the one book I asked Tommy to read! The book covers vaginal births, cesarean births, home births, hospital births, medicated births and unmedicated births. So there’s truly something for everyone. And I liked that it’s written for your birth partner — whether that’s your husband, best friend, doula, etc — can best support you through it all.
It provided a nice guide to creating a birth plan and explained that you really can’t plan how your labor will go. So, it helps you create a realistic set of goals and prioritizing what is MOST important to you.
While it’s not a baby book, there is a short chapter at the end about basic baby care. I found it a nice transition to end my pregnancy-book reading and pick up some newborn and baby care books! (And I have a post with those recommendations coming soon!)
4. Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon & Robert Bradley
I found this book very informative since it covers many aspects of pregnancy and labor. But I listened to the Audible version and the narrator’s voice was super condescending and judgmental. And that’s coming from someone who much preferred content around an unmedicated labor vs. the induction and epidural route. I didn’t feel like it was against a hospital birth, but it does talk about having a doctor who supports your labor goals. And I completely agree that’s incredibly important!
I probably would have liked it a bit better if I read it, but even still, it presents things as what you “should” do if you “really care about your baby.” I much prefer the approach in Expecting Better and The Birth Partner that gives you information so you can choose what’s right for YOU and not being guilted into something! If you feel VERY strongly about an unmedicated pregnancy and birth no matter what, you’ll probably really enjoy this!
5. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
I didn’t read this one, but in retrospect, I wish I’d read it rather than Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. Ina May Gaskin is the nation’s leading midwife and she shares the benefits and joys of natural birth that’s more about trusting your body rather than guilt.
6. The Girlfriends’ Guide To Pregnancy by Vicky Iovine
I actually HATED this book and stopped about halfway through, but I know most women love it which is why I’m including it. I found it very negative on just about every topic, while others find it realistic. If you like the brutal truth angle, you may also like Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy. That’s another people recommended but after I hated Girlfriends Guide, I didn’t bother buying it. This is geared mostly towards first time moms.
7. Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Myra J. Wick, M.D. Ph.D.
This book came highly recommended by my OBGYN but when it arrived, it’s literally over two inches thick so I never sat down to actually read it. But, I flipped to a couple topics throughout pregnancy since it covers the nitty gritty of SO many topics. It covers baby’s growth week-by-week and mom’s body changes month-to-month. It also covers common symptoms, exercise, medication and important decisions that come up during pregnancy. If you like a reference guide to flip to certain topics rather than sitting down to read chapter by chapter, this would be perfect for you!
8. Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by James F. Clapp III MD and Catherine Cram MS
This book is a bit technical but if you have a basic understanding of exercise science, you’ll likely enjoy the deeper dive into physiology! This is great for the workout junkie who wants to understand how to stay active during pregnancy. (I ran throughout my entire pregnancy!)
9. Dude, You’re Gonna Be a Dad! How to Get (Both of You) Through the Next 9 Months by John Pfeiffer
This book is for the dads! This is one my friend, who is also pregnant, recommended since her husband loved it! He said it was really funny and also helpful in helping him understand what she was going through. Other dad books that another friend recommended are Stuff Every Dad Should Know by Brett Cohen and Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for Dads by Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden.
10. A book that is NOT pregnancy related!!!
My final book recommendation is to find something that isn’t a pregnancy book! It’s so easy to feel like you need to read everything and it’s easy to get burned out on pregnancy books quickly. I think reading a couple that interest you and then giving yourself a break with something else is perfect. So find a great fiction book or a non-fiction but not pregnancy related book to enjoy during your nine months! I joined Book of the Month in my first trimester and I LOVED getting a different book each month that had nothing to do with pregnancy or labor.