Looking for something to read in the final days of calm before baby arrives? Try one of these mom- and doc-approved picks.
If you're pregnant, there's a pretty good chance you recently bought What to Expect When You're Expecting, or at least have it in your shopping cart. The classic book, which exhaustively covers everything you need to know in the months before baby arrives, is beloved by moms-to-be and their doctors alike. "It's a very good go-to," says Christine Greves, MD, an ob-gyn at Orlando Health Hospital in Florida. "I even had a copy of it when I was pregnant, and I was an ob-gyn—it explains things nicely, especially if you're a first-time mom."
Still, she adds, moms-to-be shouldn't feel like they absolutely have to read What to Expect. There are many other great books out there, and some women may be interested in finding one that focuses on specific topics they care most about, Dr. Greves says—whether that's an explainer on the best baby gear, something to address anxieties about giving birth, or a primer on high-risk pregnancies. Here, nine helpful reads moms-to-be might want to consider.
'Baby Bargains' by Denise & Alan Fields
'And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready' by Meaghan O'Connell
"By far the most honest book I've read about mom-ing. It's not sugar-coated, it's not cute, it's not a ra-ra-ra go you! book. I read it after I had a baby, and man, could I relate. Especially about the breastfeeding part. As a new mom, I found myself nodding YES to just about everything. Pregnancy, labor and delivery, and mom-ing/parenting are not glamorous. This book really makes a new mom feel normal. There's no right way to do any of it, and as an expecting and new mom, sometimes you just need to hear that. I read the whole thing in two hours, the first time I was away from my baby."
—Heather Mayer Irvine, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
'Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting' by Pamela Druckerman
'Your Baby Week by Week: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Your New Baby' by Caroline Fertleman & Simone Cave
"This amazing book goes week by week. It was (and will be, since I'm pregnant again) my go-to for each week after baby is born so you know what to expect in terms of baby's feeding schedule, crying, sleeping problems, etc. It's also good for mom to help you know what's happening with your own body. It's a few pages each week, which is all you can manage to read at the start, as you're so tired and your memory is like a sieve."
—Meryl Smith, Bristol, United Kingdom
'Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today's Best Women Writers' by Eleanor Henderson & Anna Solomon
"Labor Day is a collection of birth stories from women who also happen to be beautiful writers (including Dani Shapiro, Cheryl Strayed, and Julia Glass). I loved reading their essays in the weeks before I had my son, because they represent the uniqueness of every mother’s story."
—Catherine DiBenedetto, Health features director, New York City
'Ina May's Guide to Childbirth' by Ina May Gaskin
'The Happiest Baby on the Block' by Harvey Karp
"If you want to be prepared for the addition to the family, you must read this book. It will tell you everything you need to calm a fussy baby down in minutes with Dr. Karp's '5 S' approach. If you don't have time to read the book, the DVD will give you a quick recap in a few minutes flat. The book was a godsend when dealing with my newborn who had reflux."
—Dwyer Frame, Brooklyn, New York
'Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month, Sixth Edition' by American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
"I always go with ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) publications. I like it because I think it's readable and has information well organized to the part of pregnancy you're in. And your provider will probably be on board with almost all the information in the book."
—Mary Jane Minkin, MD, an ob-gyn at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut