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A list of contemporary Pregnancy Books to take you all the way from the early days of pregnancy to the early days of parenting, so there should be something here for you no matter where you are in your personal journey!

Lexi reading a pregnancy book in chair

What to Read When You’re Expecting

Here’s a fun fact about being pregnant: you’re tired, like, all the time (at least for me).

This means that no matter how many things you have on your pre-baby to-do list or how important they are, you’re pretty much guaranteed to fall asleep before they’re all completed. In my case, a lot of the pre-baby reading I’d planned has taken a backseat to… sleeping.

I’m just being honest here, friends!

Still, so many of you have asked about the pregnancy and parentings books I’ve been reading over the last few months, and my own sleepiness is no excuse not to share what’s been on my list! I may have had some trouble keeping my eyes open for long periods of nighttime reading, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t done my research on the best books for expectant moms.

Everyone knows about the classic What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and while we all know that classics are usually classics for a reason, my list is generally a little more contemporary. It also includes books to take you all the way from the early days of pregnancy to the early days of parenting, so there should be something here for you no matter where you are in your personal journey. Any of these books would make great gifts, too. Happy reading!

1. The Healthy Pregnancy Book: Month by Month, Everything You Need to Know from America’s Baby Experts by William Sears, Martha Sears: It’s no secret that I love my research. It’s also not a secret that I like to get as much expert insight as I can get when it comes to my health… and now, the health of my baby! This is a definitive guide to a healthy pregnancy that will give you tons of tips to help you feel your best and take good care of your baby. Check this out for expert resources about everything from pregnancy superfoods and exercise to potential household hazards and choosing the right healthcare provider for you.

2. The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine: Want something a little less clinical? The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy might be your vibe. It gives you useful and accurate information, of course, but all from the perspective of a mom of four who’s experienced the highs and lows of pregnancy and childbirth herself. She prides herself on telling it to new moms like it is, which will help you approach your own journey with a little extra confidence.

3. Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman: This book has been my favorite pre-baby reading, hands down. It was written by an American journalist who had her baby in Paris and was immediately struck by how well-behaved French children were and how differently French women seemed to approach motherhood compared to their American counterparts. Like any good journalist, she started investigating! Bringing Up Bébé is the product of that investigation, offering up lots of tidbits about how French people parent and how it impacts their children.

4. Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood, and Trusting Yourself and Your Body by Erica Chidi Cohen: Nurture bills itself as a comprehensive and judgment-free pregnancy companion, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my pregnancy, it’s that we could all use a little less judgment. I’m grateful there are resources like this out there! The book is an all-in-one guide to pregnancy and birthing, written by a doula who’s helped hundreds of families welcome new members. It includes self-care exercises, holistic remedies, and plenty of expert tips.

5. The Pregnancy Instruction Manual: Essential Information, Troubleshooting Tips, and Advice for Parents-to-Be by Sarah Jordan: Okay, so you want all of the information, but in a more approachable package. The Pregnancy Instruction Manual might be just right for you. It’s full of useful illustrations and answers to the questions that drive all new moms absolutely crazy. It might even make you feel a little less alone in your pre-baby worries!  

6. The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality by Kimberly Ann Johnson: After baby comes the postpartum period, and while I haven’t experienced it yet myself, I’m already sure that more people need to be talking about the fourth trimester. That’s right, people — there’s a fourth! This book is meant to help guide new moms through those first few weeks and months after giving birth so they can heal their bodies and transition to mom life. Sometimes, we all get so focused on getting through our pregnancy that we forget to prepare for what comes next. The Fourth Trimester is an awesome resource to help you do that.

7. The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp: I know we have no idea what’s about to hit us, but we’re doing everything we can to get educated about how to keep our girl as happy as possible when she gets here. As you can tell from the title, that’s literally the focus of this whole book. Written by a professor of pediatrics, it shares lots of useful techniques for soothing babies and improving sleep patterns.

8. The Wonder Weeks: A Stress-Free Guide to Your Baby’s Behavior by Xaviera Plas-Plooij, Frans X. Plooij, and Hetty va de Riot: As mamas-to-be, we really start to think about life in terms of weeks… and I don’t think that’s going to stop after the babe is born. The Wonder Weeks outlines a new baby’s first 20 months in terms of weeks so you can feel confident about how they’re growing and developing. It also gives you ideas for helping to support brain development, science-based explanations about sleep, and encouragement for your most exhausted moments.

9. Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us by Christine Gross-Lo: This book comes highly recommended from our food editor Kelli, who says it was one of her favorites! “Knowing parents do this differently all over the world gave me the strength to go against the grain and do it my way!” she says. “It gave me the courage to be the parent I wanted to be.” Love that!

10. Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster: My baby isn’t even here yet and I feel like I’m already expected to make constant decisions that could potentially alter the course of her life. Scary! Sometimes, all I want is the straightforward information to help me make those decisions on my own, which is why I love Cribsheet. It’s an economist’s guide to the early years of parenting and cuts through a lot of the advice you might find in other resources to offer suggestions based purely on real data.

And I can’t forget the dads! Here are two books from Mike’s list…

11. Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads by Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden: For the extremely practical partner in your life! This guide will take some of the anxiety out of unknown situations like emergency diaper changes, babyproofing, lack of sleep, and more. Also, there are diagrams… who doesn’t love a diagram?

12. We’re Pregnant!: The First Time Dad’s Pregnancy Handbook by Adrian Kulp: Dads may not be physically experiencing pregnancy, but they are still very much along for the ride. Books like this can help equip you partner to be as supportive as possible as you get closer to meeting your baby! We’re Pregnant! offers information about weekly milestones, relationship tips, and valuable guidance about caring for a newborn.

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