Top 5 books to read when you're expecting your first baby?

When I first found out I was pregnant, I did what most women do and got excited about learning about each stage of pregnancy and what I should expect. I downloaded some apps (that's another blog post) and got some books so I could keep track of each stage of pregnancy. One of the most joyous things throughout pregnancy has been checking each day to see what my baby is doing in there and how big they are, usually compared to a piece of fruit. Marvelling at how baby grows from a seed to the size of a watermelon!
I thought others might find it useful to hear about which books I've read and which ones I would rate buying. I also got given some books in return for a review and friends donated some too, so all in all I ended up with a fair few. Of course, there is so much information online now that I've found that a handy resource for questions but if you have the time and inclination, you get so much more from books, especially if you have an interest in achieving a certain kind of pregnancy or birth.

Pregnancy: The Naked Truth

I received this book quite late in pregnancy and would have benefitted so much more from reading it in the early days, but still it's a quite humorous take on pregnancy whilst still providing information that most pregnancy books do not go into. It gives you the good, the bad and the ugly on pregnancy symptoms and could be described as a warts and all view. Now I think even if you want to focus on positive birthing, it probably doesn't hurt to be prepared for all eventualities but if you're of an anxious persuasion, it may be a good idea to skip certain sections. Although what I did like is that it is a balanced view from the mum tribe, with various experiences accounted for. From what I've seen on forums, some mums immediately post pregnancy say they were totally unprepared for all the possibilities that labour can bring and for the part immediately post-partum. I feel this book gives you a good insight to some common issues and helpful advice about what you can do to make life easier for yourself.

Maggie Howell: Effective Birth Preperation

My Daisy Class instructor lent me this book to read as I was interested in knowing more about the subject. As a psychologist, I have an interest in how the mind works and tools we can use to influence it and this book delivers that in spades. It is a much more in depth and scientific view of hypnobirthing, which might be more than most really need but it does provide some lovely case studies all through the book with examples of positive birthing stories, and not just the typically 'natural' births but everything from consultant-led, medical births to C-sections and V-Bacs, which is vaginal birth after a previous c section. It is a very empowering read as you see how mums have achieved births where they feel in control and not robbed of such a special experience, no matter if things didn't go according to the birthing plan. There are some hypnobirthing exercises you can do too to help train the mind.

Optimum Nutrition Before During and After Birth

I was bought this book as I try to eat healthily and am interested in nutrition and especially when it came to pregnancy. I have to be honest and say that reality does kick in some time and despite healthy intentions, when the only thing you can keep down is chips or baby just wants chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, the virtuous diet often goes out of the window. My eating habits didn't change massively in the early days, although I did find salads held much less appeal for me and some smells just did not work for me, but I guess I have relaxed as my pregnancy has gone on. This books condones the best possible nutrition, supplements included, to give your baby the best start in life. It also had handy information about tips to bust stress, which minerals and vitamins and in what quantities you should take, and avoiding infection and disease by changing your diet. Again it may be too much for most who just want the basics covered and it can have the affect of creating stress when you realise that you're not really following the advice but if you have ill health, are concerned about keeping and regaining fitness as soon as possible, or just want to be better informed about what to restrict and include, then this is a good book for you.

The First Five Years
This book goes beyond the pregnancy milestones to when babe is finally here and you have no idea what happens next. Developmental milestones hold the key to explaining why your little one is behaving as they do and what you can do to encourage their development at each age all the way up to five. I think particularly during that first year a lot of first time mums say they wish they'd known why little Johnny was struggling to sleep or going through that clingy stage and this book helps to explain what may be going on. Their minds are processing and learning so much and there is often a rational, psychological reason for why they are unsettled and need you more. I'm interested in the subject but even if you're not, this book offers you practical, bite sized information to help navigate where your young one might be at various ages. These formative years are some of the most important so it pays to know what you can do to help your baby progress. There probably won't be too much time for reading once baby is here so it's worth reading now and putting on the shelf to consult during each developmental leap.

Mum Hacks

I loves a good life hack me. I mean, who doesn't need tips that will help save time in this infinitely time deprived life we lead. Even if time doesn't bother you, making life easier and freeing you up to spend more time with the kids or doing what you love i.e. pursuing your passions has got to be a good thing. This handy little book is split into chapters for hacks to improve your morning routine and especially getting little ones out of the house quicker, to in the kitchen to help meal planning more efficient and cheaper, and perhaps most importantly a chapter on self care. As a new mummy, I can imagine looking after yourself drops right to the bottom of the list but I know how much better I feel when I take some time to keep some semblance of a heath and beauty routine so I really don't want to let this go. The book gives tips on minimising your make up routine, to cheats for looking wide awake in a morning and how to still get some exercise. Absolutely invaluable I'd say.

First time Parent

This is a book I bought and received good reviews from a few sources. It's easy to get caught up in the pregnancy bubble and not think to much about caring for your newborn when they arrive. I bet many have been caught out by this and as a newbie, I'll happily say I know very little about caring for a baby or what to expect, so this book has been really useful. It's a bit of a parent bible and easy to digest, so ideal for leaving on the coffee table for your partner to peruse at their leisure too. I've skim read this book but think it is a book I'll return to when I encounter each milestone. Obviously read the sections on care immediately after they're born, such as how to change a nappy, bathe your baby and feeding advice, but there is not much point in storing information about a certain eventuality you or your baby might encounter until it happens. At least you know that you can consult this book if your baby is crying and you've exhausted everything you can think of. It's also quite humorous which I like - I tend to find some birthing books can get a little heavy and well, I personally like a bit of light relief so it works for me.

Mindful Hypnobirthing
A friend recommended this to me and I found it to be a really useful, practical and not too overwhelming guide to hypnobirthing. It is full of exercises, positive case studies and guided meditations/ visualisations to help you prepare. It also comes with several free hypnobirthing tracks which can be downloaded from the website so you can keep up your practice throughout. It tells you ways to prepare your birthing environment to promote well being and covers home as well as hospital births. It promotes a natural labour, without the use of drugs, but does recommend massage, tens and other naturalistic pain relief techniques. The author was inspired to research a different birth process after a traumatic first birth - the two stories could not be more different and it's reassuring to see how the tools can promote a more positive birth experience.

Pregnancy week by week

This talks you through your pregnancy week by week, including symptoms, what to expect and growth and development of baby. It is more of a text book so sticks to facts and highlights, rather than any opinion based information but there are odd snippets from mums in there to help guide you on what to expect and FAQs. However, I would say all of this and more is available from many of the apps available now, so perhaps if you're online, you don't really need this book. Unless you prefer to have a book in your hands of course. Again it's another good one to leave out on the coffee table for your partner to skim through.

Pregnancy for Dads
My hubby was bought this book and given it is about one fifth the size of the books I've been reading, I did wonder how useful it could be. I expected it to be a witty and not entirely practical view of pregnancy and childbirth but curiosity got the better of me and after a quick read I was actually quite impressed. Men's books on the subject tend to cut through the crud a little better and give you just the highlights, which works for me. If you've not got much time, this sort of thing can be a life saver. Obviously the great benefit with this book is that it's from a mans perspective and tells dads to be exactly what their partner might be experiencing, what they can do to help and delicately explains some of the symptoms of pregnancy that many ladies might be too embarrassed to mention to their partner over the dinner table.  Again with it being brief, it's the sort of thing that even the most time pressed partner can spend 5/10 minutes reading a few times a week. I think we often forget this is just as much a journey for dads-to-be as us and they must be bewildered by the crazy behaviours and constant reminders of how sore/ tired/out of sorts we are. If it helps create a modicum of understanding and sympathy for the some time difficult journey of pregnancy, then I'm all for it.

Have you read any good pregnancy books you could recommend?

*This is a collaborative review with some books being gifted for review.


  1. The First Time Parent one looks good! I am 7 months and haven't read a single book or website. I know that probably sounds bad but I feel like everytime I have gone to, I've read something terrifying that I cannot stop happening so I have avoided it instead. I will start reading ones to do with after the birth rather than pregnancy and the 'exit' haha!

    Jaynie Shannon | Beauty & Lifestyle


    1. Wow you'll have had your baby by now...I do hope all went well. I too have had my little girl and life has been a beautiful whirlwind ever since. I think you were right to avoid the negative noise - there is a lot of it in pregnancy. I found it useful to pick and choose the bits that helped me and ignore the rest. Have you found there is very little time to read now? :)

  2. Mum Hacks looks useful.
    I can recommend How To Be A Happy Mum and the follow up Toddling to Ten by the Netmums team.


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