Monday, August 16, 2010

What to expect from "What to Expect When You're Expecting"

If you know anybody who is pregnant, please offer her the following advice:

Do not assume that the prenatal reference book with the most worrying factoids, statistics, and advice is the most accurate or complete one.

What I mean is, you don't want scary stuff in your house. Why? Because every symptom, every twinge, every stray thought has you running to your reference books and to google things, and you can scare yourself silly. Literally silly.

What to Expect
is an immensely popular book. It's a frequently revised book. It's not inaccurate (not exactly). But it presents its material in such a way that it normalizes panic and can reinforce a small concern into a tsunami-level freak-out. (So can most web searches, so be careful.)

You don't really want a book that is vague about warning signs, or tells you what symptoms might lead to miscarriage. Really. These books are designed to talk you into taking seriously the gravity of what you are doing, and the importance of care. But what they SHOULD be designed to do, for those of us who already take seriously our pregnancies, is to reassure the patient when a symptom is likely normal.

Enter a few probably-better books, recommended by my no-worries-focused birth forum on BabyCenter:

The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
Recommended by a BTDT (been there done that) mom with five kids, because it contains information she'd never seen before during her previous pregnancies, and because of its matter-of-fact presentation. I have not read this book, but Amazon reviewers like very much that it tells you when NOT to worry versus when TO worry in simple chart form:
"For example, if a woman has slight spotting during the first four weeks of pregnancy, the chart tells her to notify a doctor during her next hospital visit. But if she has any bleeding at all during weeks 29 to 32, the chart indicates that she should tell her doctor immediately." (from the Amazon description of the book)

Your mileage may vary, but this book might have saved my doctor's sanity during my first trimester, when I was calling, crying and terrified, every other week when WTE told me I was probably miscarrying.

Great ExpectAtions: Your All-in-one Pregnancy Resource
by Sandy Jones and Marcie Jones
This recommendation came from one of my favorite people on BabyCenter, who is sensible, calm, loving, and supportive, and who has a medical background. She likes it because she finds it to be all the things that I treasure in her... so I KNOW it's good. It also provides awesome new-parent information like the anatomy of a stroller -- AND the same authors wrote an early-childcare reference guide, too, so if you like it, there's more where that came from.

From the Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, and Becoming a Parent by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris
This one is my personal recommendation. It's upbeat, non-judgmental (if you don't want to be berated about your controversial choices on hot topics such as cloth vs. disposable diapers, circumcising or not, breastfeeding or not, co-sleeping or not... this is probably your book), and presents facts simply and comprehensibly without dwelling on the creepy -- and without encouraging the reader to dwell on the creepy.

Dad's Pregnant Too: Expectant fathers, expectant mothers, new dads and new moms share advice, tips and stories about all the surprises, questions and joys ahead...
by Harlan Cohen
This book is hilarious, reassuring, and informative. I got it for Pat when I found that he was reading just the "just for Dad" sections of WTE, and am incredibly glad that I did. First of all, he loved it. It knows its audience -- new daddies -- and it's written well to answer their questions and address their concerns. Secondly, it's brilliantly informative: Pat has been able to answer my questions about what is going on in my body, even when my other books and searches, and my obsessive personality, hadn't discovered the answers. And lastly, it brainwashed him -- for the better -- which I wouldn't have asked for but I ain't looking a gift horse in the mouth. The morning after I got this book I woke up to a sparkling clean toilet and bathroom. When I thanked him, Pat told me, "My book says that if you have to throw up, you shouldn't have to do it in a skanky toilet." Awwwww. Isn't that sweet?

I am sure there are more out there, but I know about these and felt like passin' on what I knew to you. And there we go. :)

1 comment:

Sigrid said...

Well, I wish had known about these books when I was pregnant (if they existed then). The What to Expect the First Year book, is terribly anxiety-producing.