The Only Pregnancy Books You Actually Need to Read

Pregnancy is one massive cocktail of emotions (virgin, of course). For some, it can be parts exciting, nerve-wracking, and mystifying with a splash of “WTF have we done?” thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, you don’t get an individualized recipe book that shows you how exactly to mix all of these ingredients, and the ratios vary by person. But not all hope is lost. While every pregnancy is different, there are dozens of pregnancy books that offer tips, resources, data, and valuable insights into all stages of pregnancy geared to help make you feel confident and prepared for what’s to come.

Of course, not all books are of the top-shelf variety, and some may not suit your palate at all. To help you find the perfect blend, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best pregnancy books available that cater to different interests and experiences, whether you’re planning on having a water birth, are nervous about having a second child, or are expecting multiples. Plus, these picks also answer questions about weird pregnancy symptoms, recommended doctors appointments, and what to do when your small human being arrives.

So, whether you like to sip and savor or chug, here are the pregnancy books you’ll want to read while you drink up this life-altering experience.

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

You’ve got a million questions, and the Mayo Clinic has the answers. This pregnancy book walks expectant parents through all of their burning inquiries, from tips on how to conceive to the first few weeks of parenthood. With helpful illustrations, easy-to-navigate breakdowns, and insight from some of the top doctors and experts in the country, you can feel confident knowing that you’re getting some of the most reliable information from this 512-page read. 

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, $19.91 at Amazon

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong — and What You Really Need to Know

You’re going to get a lot of advice during your pregnancy from family, friends, co-workers, and even that weird guy at the grocery store checkout stand. But how do you know what’s worth listening to and what’s a waste of your energy? Author and economist Emily Oster uses real data and facts (what a novel idea!) in Expecting Better so that readers can make informed decisions about their pregnancies. By the end, you’ll, hopefully, feel empowered enough to tell your pesky neighbor that, no, you won’t try her strange homemade elixir to predict gender, because science.  

Expecting Better, $12.03 at Amazon

What to Do When You’re Having Two

In some ways, being pregnant with two fetuses is a lot like being pregnant with one. You have similar symptoms, need to get many of the same tests, and have many of the same questions. However, the experiences are different, and you’re going to want a book that best caters to you. What to Do When You’re Having Two is a fantastic resource for anyone expecting twins, as it walks you through what to expect during each trimester, why you’ll make extra trips to the doctor (multiple pregnancies are considered high-risk, for one), and what you’ll need (and won’t) for two babies. Plus, author Natalie Diaz offers handy resources like a breastfeeding and changing logbook, as well as helpful tips from other twin parents. 

What to Do When You’re Having Two, $13.57 at Amazon

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Ina May Gaskin is somewhat of a legend for her revolutionary, back-to-basics approaches to birth and midwifery. In this book, the revered midwife provides advice on how to have a medication-free (and even pleasurable) childbirth experience with the help of breathing and comfort techniques, as well as how to prioritize self-care. Additionally, the book shares dozens of birth stories to illuminate the fact that all births are different, and all experiences are valid. 

Heads up: Gaskin advocates specifically for medication-free childbirth (which she refers to as “natural childbirth”) and is a proponent of delivering at home or a birthing center. While hospital-free deliveries are an excellent option for those who consult with their doctors and midwives, they’re not for everyone. It’s our view at SheKnows that all births are beautiful and that there is nothing wrong with delivering at a hospital or using medication or technology during delivery if properly administered by a professional.  

Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, $13.29 at Amazon

When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy

Eating for two is tricky business, but what if you’re eating for three, four, or more? When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads is specifically for parents of multiples who need help figuring out how to best nourish and care for their bodies during and after pregnancy. In addition to recipes and exercise tips, this book offers insights into common pregnancy concerns, such as the signs of preterm labor, reducing the risk of pregnancy complications, and delivery.  

When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads, $13.72 at Amazon

Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy

Don’t be surprised if your pregnancy questions extend beyond “Am I going to get stretch marks?” Pregnancy is a genuinely wild physiological and psychological experience, and it’s 100% OK to question every little aspect. If you’ve ever wondered how breast milk carries antibodies or if your fetus can taste the burrito you just ate, you’re not alone. In Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?, author Jena Pincott explores the science of pregnancy and assures readers that while some of the pregnancy transformations are bizarre, curiosity never is. 

Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?, $13.80 at Amazon

Strong As a Mother: How to Stay Healthy, Happy, and (Most Importantly) Sane from Pregnancy to Parenthood

If the morning sickness hasn’t clued you in yet, pregnancy is physically demanding work. Your body will go through extraordinary changes as it grows and births a human being. But pregnancy can also push your mental and emotional boundaries. Strong As a Mother focuses on mental health and permits expectant parents to tap into their emotions — whether they feel scared, worried, sad, or excited — throughout pregnancy and parenthood. Author Kate Rope offers ways for parents to acknowledge and manage their emotions in healthy ways, while also providing resources and ideas for self-care. Additionally, she explains how to tackle some of the trickier aspects of parenting, like how to set boundaries with family members and juggle your relationships. 

Strong As a Mother, $12.91 at Amazon

Let’s Panic About Babies!

Pregnancy is a serious business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. Let’s Panic About Babies! is just as informative as it is hilarious, as authors Alice Bradley and Eden M. Kennedy answer an array of pregnancy-related questions and offer helpful advice about all things baby. Our tip: wear a panty liner while reading in case of any, erm, laughter-related leaks. (If you didn’t know that was one unfortunate pregnancy symptom, you soon will!)

Let’s Panic About Babies!, from $0.25 at Amazon

Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy

Like many of the books on this list, you don’t have to be pregnant to enjoy them. Angela Garbes’ Like a Mother is one read you might want on your shelf for years to come, as it tackles not only the physical aspects of pregnancy but also the cultural ones. Using science and investigative reporting as her guide, Garbes shares her findings on pressing pregnancy questions, societal views of pregnancy, and the access (or lack thereof) pregnant people have to vital resources. 

Like a Mother, $11.59 at Amazon

The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Partners, Doulas, and Other Labor Companions

Many pregnancy books focus on the person carrying the fetus. But pregnancy can be a hugely transformational experience for partners and families, too — especially as they question how their roles and how they can help. The Birth Partner breaks down common pregnancy questions and tips for partners who want to feel involved in — and prepared for — the pregnancy and birthing processes. The book also discusses the roles of a doula, in case you’re interested in bringing on some extra help. 

The Birth Partner, $13.38 at Amazon

The Second Baby Book

If you’re a parent of one or more kids, growing your family can be exciting and challenging. Morning sickness, for example, doesn’t care if you have to feed Kid #1 his breakfast before daycare. The Second Baby offers tips on how to deal with typical pregnancy symptoms while raising a family, as well as answer some common questions, such as how to talk to kids about a new sibling . 

The Second Baby, $12.07 at Amazon

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