When I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on to prepare (ahem, give me the illusion of control). Initially, most of the books I found were about the symptoms and physiology of pregnancy. After medical school and Ob/Gyn rotations, I felt I understood those topics as much as I needed to and as much as I could prior to going through it. I read many books throughout my pregnancy. Here were my favorite

A Good Birth: Finding the Positive and Profound in Your Childbirth Experience by Anne Lyerly

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant. Anne Lyerly is a mother and an Ob/Gyn. She interviewed women about their birth experiences and what factors created a good or bad birth experience. She offers concise recommendations on how to have a positive birth experience despite it being an unpredictable, uncontrollable process.

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong—and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster

Though some physicians may bristle at getting health advice from an economist, Oster explores the evidence behind conventional wisdom and your Ob/Gyn’s recommendations. It is a convenient one-stop shop for questions like “How big of a deal was that glass of wine before I knew I was pregnant?”, “How much coffee is too much?”, and “Can I please, for the love of God, have some sushi?”. For the most part, she doesn’t offer specific recommendations, allowing you to make your own decisions on these contentious topics.

Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy by Jena Pincott

Pincott is a science journalist who used her pregnancy experience as an opportunity to explore the myths and facts behind many of the “old wives tales” of pregnancy. She looks into questions like “Do hairy babies cause more heartburn?” (They do.) And “Can you predict the sex of your baby?” (Not really.)

Birth: The Surprising History of How We are Born by Tina Cassidy

Cassidy begins her entertaining history with Lucy and why it is so much more difficult for humans to give birth than other species. She continues by discussing traditional practices in the care of pregnant and postpartum women. She explores the historical role of midwives and how they were persecuted as witches. Men enter this traditionally female domain as doctors try to gain “market share”. Despite, initially having worse safety record and outcomes doctors were successful in establishing their role in the labor process, sometimes with amazing innovation like safe Caesarean section and sometimes with strange and harmful practices like pre-labor enemas and twilight sleep.

Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us by Christine Gross-Loh, PhD.

As the title suggests, this book is about parenting rather than pregnancy. However, I’m prone to putting the cart before the horse. I figured that many of you, who are trained to think about disposition first, might want to do the same. This book was great because it helps you realize that many of the parenting practices that we think of as universal are very specific to our culture and you can choose not to do the ones that don’t work for you.

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