Before I had children, I’d view a pregnant woman with curiosity, even awe. What did it feel like, growing a baby? How did she feel about giving birth?
I admired her, too. It takes courage to become a mother. She’d joined a club—a scary one, but one which billions of women have already joined. And while every woman’s pregnancy journey is unique, it was reassuring to think about the billions who’ve been through it. When I became pregnant, I knew I wasn’t doing this alone.
You’re not alone, either. Here I review the best pregnancy books for first-time moms, written by a few of the billions who’ve already been there. Their research, advice, and personal stories will help you feel informed, confident, and ready to embrace your incredible new role.
Welcome to the club.
Best Pregnancy Books for a First-Time Mom-to-Be
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide
If your default reaction to big changes is to worry, Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: the Complete Guide will help put your mind at ease. Many readers like the combo of evidence-based medicine and real-life accounts from other moms, finding it both educating and reassuring.
Instead of diving into everything that could go wrong, it details a typical, healthy process first, helping moms-to-be feel in control and informed. The author, Penny Simkin, then explains potential complications and how they might be handled. I like this approach: not sugar-coated, but not all doom and gloom upfront.
The book is all-inclusive, too, making it accessible for new mothers from different backgrounds and family set-ups. Simkin understands that the best-laid birth plans of women and their partners often go awry, and she talks you through various birth scenarios, helping you be prepared for whatever comes your way.
It also covers the newborn phase, offering some extra guidance as you transition from third to fourth trimesters.
Nurture: a Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood and Trusting Yourself and Your Body
There’s so much information and advice out there for new moms, a lot of it conflicting. Erica Chidi Cohen, a doula and health educator, wrote Nurture: a Modern Guide to inform as well as to empower new moms to make decisions based on what’s best for them and their babies.
Its holistic, non-judgemental approach to pregnancy, birth and new motherhood will help you cut through the noise.
Cohen recognizes that pregnancy is a mental and emotional shift, not just physical. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Nurture’s illustrations, lists, recipes and self-care exercises will lessen the stress and fear which often surrounds first-time pregnancies.
The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy is a thorough resource for women who want to dive into the details. Its in-depth answers to your hundreds of questions will help you feel more prepared.
Unlike some pregnancy books, this one is an illustrated manual, great for those who are more visual learners.
The author’s credentials are another big sell. Dr. Myra Wick is a mother of four, but she’s also an OB-GYN specialist at the Mayo Clinic. She brings decades of medical training to the table, not just personal experience, which some moms-to-be might find more reassuring and educational than a funny, blog-style pregnancy book.
It also covers the entire new motherhood journey, from getting pregnant, through the 40 weeks, to the birth, meaning you won’t have to flip between five other books to get answers and advice.
Bumpin’: The Modern Guide to Pregnancy: Navigating the Wild, Weird, and Wonderful Journey From Conception Through Birth and Beyond
Bumpin’ offers a slightly different format than other books: it’s broken down into 5 trimesters, starting with conception (Trimester 0) and ending with the newborn phase. Even if you’re already pregnant, this extra section could come in handy the next time you’re trying to conceive.
If you are looking for an encyclopedia, this is it. Pregnancy Day by Day’s detailed, specific and facts-based presentation will satisfy new mothers who want to know it all.
Many readers like Leslie Schrock’s tone. Friendly, down-to-earth, and relatable, her willingness to get real makes readers feel understood, cared about and not alone. Plus, each section has a chapter for dads, allowing them to be more involved, informed, and hopefully empathetic.
Bumpin’ isn’t too heavy on science and data, although it includes some statistics throughout. This makes it accessible for those who want to learn but aren’t looking for an encyclopedia. It’s easy to dip in and out of it, depending on what stage you’re in and what topic you’d like to know more about.
The format is thorough, too; it’s the only well-reviewed book I’ve found that covers every day of pregnancy. Being able to follow your baby’s progress in such a detailed way can be a good distraction from the negative aspects of pregnancy, like first trimester nausea or third trimester heartburn.
Its detailed illustrations are great for those who learn better with visual aids. Being able to see pictures may also help dads understand and feel closer to what’s happening inside their partners.
Despite its title, the first half of Newborn 101 actually covers the pregnancy, labor and birth, which means it’s still a great resource for women who are still pregnant.
Then, when you’ve given birth and still have a thousand questions, the second half of the book will ease you into parenthood. Carole Kramer Arsenault talks about everything from breastfeeding to sleep schedules, from baby’s milestones to your own post-partum care.
Having all of these topics covered in one book—from pregnancy to newborn—makes it easier to find what you’re looking for.
Another plus: it includes information for new dads, helping them step into more of a hands-on role now that the baby has arrived.
Because you’re looking for pregnancy book, I’m guessing you like to plan ahead or at least have an idea of what’s coming. Baby 411: Your Baby, Birth to Age 1 is a good resource for beginning your parenting journey, once the pregnancy, labor and birth are out of the way (and the real fun begins).
Covering everything from doctor’s appointments, feeding (breastfeeding and formula), sleep, first aid and introducing solid food, this go-to guide gives answers under question headings, making it really easy to navigate. A lot of new parents, many of them sleep-deprived, like its clear, easy-to-read style.
The author’s background is a big plus. Although a quick Google search might bring up most answers to baby-related questions, Dr. Ari Brown’s experience as a pediatrician is reassuring to new parents, as they know they can trust her advice.
Lots of information out there can mean information-overload. The good news is, you know yourself—your personality, your values, and your biggest concerns. I hope one of these books, with all their facts and figures, stories and suggestions, will not only inform, but lessen your fear of the unknown as you transition into motherhood.