Everyone handles stress in different ways. When I was pregnant, I decided to read everything I could get my hands on to assuage the fear of the unknown (namely, labor and what to do with the actual baby once it arrived). While there were some things I definitely should not have read, like WebMD (which convinced me I had a hernia), there were some books that helped me feel incredibly empowered and well-prepared. I asked a few moms about the books that got them through the trimesters, and here's our must-have "Waiting for Baby" reading list.
- Best for Prepping for Labor: Ina May's Guide to ChildbirthIf you want to have a natural birth or have no idea what to expect during labor, grab this book. The entire first half consists of moving accounts of women birthing naturally at a midwifery center in Tennessee. The second half of the book is an intelligent, yet approachable discourse on what happens during labor and how the birth experience has developed throughout American history. It's a fascinating read.
- Best Hospital Guide: Common Sense PregnancyFeel like your OB doesn't have enough time to talk to you? Ask a labor nurse instead. Jeanne Faulkner has compiled the experience of thousands of births, four children and answering questions in her advice column into this guide for new moms. It's great for explaining all the medical tests, jargon and interventions that could come up before and during labor so that you can make your own decisions without feeling judged or stupid. It has just enough information to help you without telling you so much that you feel scared or overwhelmed, and recommends areas where more study might actually be useful.
- Best Gift: The Pregnancy Countdown BookWritten by a mom and a M.D., this book is an honest, humorous day-by-day guide to pregnancy and all its beautiful (and cringe-worthy) moments. With one page for each day, you can read it even at your most exhausted and benefit from the advice, encouragement and quotes from other moms.
- Best for New Parents: Eat, Sleep, PoopThis book is the distilled insights of a pediatrician during his first year of being a father. If you don't know a ton about babies, this book is an easy, informative and relaxed guide on what to expect during the first year. If you have a handle on pregnancy but you're terrified of the actual parenting thing, Cohen's practical wit will help you navigate the minefield of new-baby-land. Coolest feature would have to be the "when to call the doctor" flowcharts.
- Best Reference: The Panic-Free PregnancyEver wonder about all those things you can't do when you're pregnant? You know, no sushi, no lunch meat, no laying on your back, no aspirin...the list never seems to end. This short, medically-sound guide helps you separate the irrational from the factual so that you can make informed decisions about the lifestyle changes you want to take on during pregnancy. It's organized in a Q&A style, making it a quick read and an easy reference.