Updated: Jan 11
There are countless pregnancy books for first time moms out there! You are probably wondering which one is best for you? If you have the book "What to Expect When You're Expecting" the best advice I can give you is to toss that book in a large bon fire and dance around it as it burns!
I know, I know..... "But, everyone I know who is pregnant has this book!" True, according to USA Today, What to Expect When You're Expecting is read by 93 percent of women who read a pregnancy book. It is a #1 Best Seller and has even been call the "Worlds Best Selling Pregnancy Book"! Hear me out.....
It reinforces every negative, paranoid worry that everyone going through a pregnancy for the first time has," said Ron Sullivan, a new father in Philadelphia, who warned in the reader reviews on Amazon.com that "What to Expect" "will make your life utterly miserable for the next nine months."
Why Not read What To Expect When You're Expecting?
With the first publishing of the book being in 1984, one reason it is considered problematic is due to the many old and unrevised printings in public circulation. Although wording is revised with each new edition to respond to critiques, older copies are passed down by women to their pregnant peers. What to Expect When You're Expecting has been criticized for promoting paranoia and fear among pregnant women for focusing on complications and for its extremely strict dietary guidelines. There have been many reports of pregnant women who have taken the dietary guidelines too far or have worried themselves sick over gaining too much weight (unsafe weight gain according to the book). Being told that "Every Bite Counts" created anxiety and stress during a time when a pregnant person should be in a state of pregnancy bliss.
The book is fill with every possible negative outcome, it should be called "The Worst-Case-Scenario Handbook" or "What To Freak Out About When You're Expecting". The book goes into scary details about everything from Incompetent Cervixes to Uterine Ruptures!
I once got a phone call in the middle of the night from a panicked couple who said that they felt their baby in the womb "jerking around violently". After a few questions, it seemed likely that what they were experiencing was the baby had a case of the hiccups! She referred to her copy of "What to Expect," which cautioned that a baby's hiccups could indicate a knotted or tangled umbilical cord. They ended up taking a trip to the hospital in the middle of the night in fear that something was wrong with their baby and was reassured by the OB in triage that hiccups where completely normal during pregnancy and to go back home and try to rest. Dr. Alexander Anthopoulos, an obstetrician in the Philadelphia suburbs, said, "There are so many warnings and admonishments that patients become frightened of normal symptoms." He and other doctors also say that although the book offers generally sound advice, there are a few notable exceptions: for example, the warning that performing oral sex on a pregnant woman can create an embolism that could kill both mother and fetus. "That is utter, utter rubbish," said Dr. Anthopoulos. Heidi Murkoff, one of the original authors of "What to Expect" and now chief custodian of the franchise, acknowledged that the hiccup warning -- which she recently removed in response to reader complaints -- "was a mistake." As for the oral sex alarm, she says its a "better safe than sorry" approach!
When the book was first released, it was a little more light on the "Disaster Scenarios", but as the popularity of the book grew, so did the addition of all the worst case scenarios! Its original intention of this book was to teach women about pregnancy, but many women are using it to diagnose potential problems during their pregnancy. The readers end up going down a rabbit hole that didn't need to be traveled! Of course the Internet can foster visions of medical doom far more terrifying than anything in "What to Expect." But, when people start to google symptoms, they are looking for one thing specifically. I do not recommend googling pregnancy symptoms, if you have questions it's best to reach out to your provider. If it's not something serious, you can always check in with your Doula if you have one. Doulas are a great resource to help you normalize your pregnancy and offer helpful tips that can put your mind at ease.
It is completely normal to worry about that little babe growing inside of you. It's completely normal to want to learn how to keep that babe growing healthy and safe. Pregnancy brings a mixture of emotions and not all of them are filled with bliss and euphoria! Worry is common, especially during a woman's first pregnancy or an unplanned one. Reading a book that dives into the "Dark Side" of pregnancy might create unnecessary stress and anxiety. Speaking to other women who had babies can be helpful, it can also have the opposite effect. If a person begins to go into a traumatic birth story, you can always interrupt them and let them know that you are wanting to focus on positive birth stories during your pregnancy. Or, if you do hear them out, just know that the story they told is of THEIR birth story. In all the years that I have been a birth doula and a Labor and Delivery nurse, not ONCE has a person looked at me after giving birth and said "WOW, that birth was exactly what I expected" or "My birth was just like my friend, Sally's birth!". So, just smile and nod and remember that your birth story will be your own!