Pregnancy & Motherhood Books I've Read in Preparation

I have always had a fascination with pregnancy even from a young age when I begged my mum to put the VHS on with the '80s version of One Born Every Minute. Remember the videos we were made to watch in Year 1 or 2 with the naked family playing tennis on the beach? It was kind of like that! This was after my watershed moment when I learned where babies actually came from... and it wasn't a grain of sand from the sandbox that sprung out of mummy's belly button as I had first thought. What a shocker that moment was.

Well, aged thirty, when I actually found myself staring at a positive pregnancy test, it seemed I was at the very beginning of a steep learning curve. Cue up all the TV series I could find online (I later realise watching what is effectively dramatisation of labour and birth is not great for your anxiety levels...as depicting what a positive and calm experience it can also be makes for boring tele!) Only one of my close friends was pregnant and she was the first in my friendship group so there wasn't a huge network of people around me to share advice. What to expect when you're expecting? The first port of call, and certainly for me, was to delve into the nearest bookshop for books on pregnancy and birth. I relied heavily on these sources of information and I so enjoyed filling those early weeks of the first trimester when just the hubby and I knew the exciting news to get my fix!

If you find yourself or a friend on their pregnancy journey, I wanted to share my top reads but also this little nugget of advice: Don't forget to focus on the bit after the birth. It can be an all-consuming thought bringing a baby into the world but in all reality, the birth is a relatively short period of time and once it's done, you have your baby to care for 24/7. There won't necessarily be all the time then to read up on the motherhood and child-rearing section of the library once you're thrust into that stage so make sure to split your time between the two topics in the run up to baby's arrival!

NOT TO MISS...

The Positive Birth Book: A New Approach to Pregnancy, Birth and the Early Weeks by Milli Hill
You need to read this book. Just as the label states, it is a positive and empowering read about the ins and outs of labour. Hill provides you with all the information you will need about each stage of labour along with all your judgement-free choices regarding where and how you choose to labour. My favourite nugget of information that has remained with me is the calculations she doesn't around the percentage of time during labour that you will actually be "in pain" (spoiler: its only around 23% of an 8 hour labour - the other 77% is entirely pain free!)

(Disclaimer: I haven't read the below book but I have purchased and viewed the entire Digital Birth Pack and Digital Postpartum Pack from The Positive Birth Company and have only positive things to say about Siobhan Miller so wanted to include her book below if you prefer this medium to get the information vs. the online or in-person courses PBC also offer)

Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better by Siobhan Miller
Teaching the science behind hypnobirthing has been game-changing for my mindset (and my husband's) as we approach the birth. Explaining with logic and reason how a positive mindset, knowledge and breath-work can bring your baby calmly into the world has left me feeling confident and borderline excited to go into labour. I had many recommendations to read this book and so many people advocate for the positive waves she is making in the industry, overcoming what society ad popular culture has taught us to think and expect from labour and birth. 

The Modern Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond by Marie Louise
Advice from a Midwife is like gold-dust but if you're anything like me, you wish you had a direct telephone line straight to yours whenever a question arose! Especially during the early stages, assuming you're low-risk, you don't have all that much time together - but, alas, enter Marie Louise. Firstly, get on Instagram and follow her @the_modern_midwife for Sunday birth stories, her own experiences of pregnancy that she is currently experiencing first-hand and lots of useful information, including online hypnobirthing and post-natal packs. Her book goes through all the stages of pregnancy in great detail (without overwhelming you) and includes some great tips for those early days of motherhood and the fourth trimester.

It Worked For Me by Holly Willoughby
Bit of a different type of book here and I accept you may prefer more of an authority than Holly but, so far, I have found her book to be incredibly helpful on the topics of feeding and sleeping. I'm two-thirds of the way through the book and it is literally like a textbook to the extent I have taken a highlighter to it for key passages! Including tips around breast-feeding positions and the best sleeping environment that worked for each of her three very different children, I have found it helpful reading from a 'real mum's' perspective. This book lives by the side of my bed and I'm sure will be well-thumbed once I'm finished referring to it!

IF YOU HAVE TIME...

Expecting Better by Emily Oster
This book was leant to me by aforementioned pregnant friend and gave a truly different perspective on pregnancy. It's a book I dipped in and out of rather than read from cover to cover but found the profoundly logical standpoint to be truly refreshing amongst the preachy prose that you can come across! Oster is an award-winning economist and takes a data-driven approach to de-bunking the often easily accepted rules that guide women throughout pregnancy. Caffeine and alcohol were two topics I was particularly interested to learn more about the facts and figures behind the guidelines. It's an empowering explanation to help inform your choices - plus, it meant I haven't sweated over the odd glass of wine I've enjoyed during the past nine months.

Happy Mum, Happy Baby - and - Letters on Motherhood by Giovanna Fletcher
First things first, subscribe to the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast for a regular fix of Giovanna and a host of guests who all breakdown the charade of motherhood and perfection and keep it real! In Giovanna's first book Happy Mum, Happy Baby (from which the hit podcast later followed), she shares her own experience of becoming a mother with a much-needed dose of positivity and honesty. The 2020 release of Letters on Motherhood charts the letters she has written to her three sons and various other recipients throughout her journey of motherhood, capturing in time her (sometimes raw) experiences of what it's really like to be a mother in this day and age.

The Stress Solution: The 4 Steps to Reset Your Body, Mind, Relationships & Purpose by Dr Rangan Chatterjee
This isn't a specific pregnancy book at all, but it is an incredibly interesting read. So much so I've bought it as Christmas gifts for family members and recommended it to basically my entire office. It's such an important eye-opening read into the ways our life manifests stress and the impact it has on our wellbeing. This is a general good-read to educate yourself about how to identify and live a healthier lifestyle, combatting stress in its various forms, as told by a GP.


Winging It by Alex Jones
A down-to-earth insight into the first year of motherhood as told by TV Presenter Alex Jones. Defined by medical terms as a "geriatric mother", Alex was over 35 when she fell pregnant with her first son and you're taken on her journey through pregnancy, birth and the first year. It felt like listening to a friend who was happy to overshare for the benefit of making you know you're not alone. This is definitely one of those books I intend to re-read on Audible during those daily walks.

ONES TO SKIP...

What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
This is top of most of the 'must-read' lists but for me it was 40 hours on Audible and just too much of a beast to get through. Instead, I would recommend downloading the 'What to Expect' app where you can get a weekly update and watch a short video where Heidi herself gives you the low-down. There was so much of the book which I could have flicked past, but it was harder to do in an audiobook form, plus it's an American book so some of the context is irrelevant to me as a Brit.

How To Grow A Baby and Push It Out by Clemmie Hooper
Sadly, I had already bought and listened to this book pre-pregnancy and before it was revealed about Clemmie's involvement in online trolling. I've spoken on my blog before about this book and also the pregnancy journal but would prefer to divert you to the many more midwife-written books on the market (see above Marie Louise's The Modern Midwife's Guide).

Hard Pushed by Leah Hazard
Again, I actually read this pre-pregnancy and it's the midwife-equivalent of the bestselling This is Going to Hurt in that it's stories from the labour ward and with it come the highs and lows. Going back to my earlier fascination with all things pregnancy and having actually wanted to be a midwife myself aged 16, I found this an interesting listen on Audible, but it definitely comes with a trigger warning. I wouldn't recommend it whilst you're pregnant as it only really depicts one birthing eventuality which is a hospital birth. 

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I hope this little library list of to-read and not-to-read is helpful for you. I know there are many, many options out there but sometimes it's helpful to hear first-hand what an expectant mother thought!

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