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Best Books for Expectant Parents (And the Ones You Should Avoid)

If you're having a baby, you probably have a ton of questions. Luckily, we've compiled a list of the best books for expectant parents! (Don't worry: we'll also let you know which ones to skip.)

By Alicia SpringerPublished 6 years ago 6 min read

As an expectant parent, there are a million questions you'll face about pregnancy and how to raise your children. Navigating all of the conflicting information, statistics, and opinions can be overwhelming. With such a vast number of resources, from pregnancy apps to books to videos to articles, how do you know what sources can you trust? Where can you find help?

That's where we come in. We've created a list of the best books for expectant parents (and the ones you should avoid). Stock up on these to help with your pregnancy, delivery, and parenting questions.

First we're going to look at some books that focus on fertility, conception, and pregnancy.

What to Expect When You're Expecting is one of the most long-lasting and trusted sources of information for pregnancy. Currently on its 5th Edition, this complete guide is regularly updated by its authors to stay current and add/edit any information that has changed. It discusses the things that are awesome about pregnancy, but also makes sure you know the gross things no one tells you about pregnancy. It covers almost every common question, from "When is the earliest I can take a pregnancy test?" to "What happens after I deliver my baby?" and everything in between.

There is a companion series featuring dozens of topics so you can add to your collection as you go. BONUS: There's also a website (www.whattoexpect.com) where you can interact with other parents!

While there are hundreds of parenting books available today, most focus on pregnancy and parenting from a woman's perspective. Finding pregnancy books for dad, however, can be more difficult. The Expectant Father is a month-by-month guide to pregnancy that covers every topic a dad will need to know.

With over 20 years in print, this regularly-updated guide is our favorite book for dads because it avoids the stereotypical "dude" language and sports analogies that seem forced and awkward. We also love that the newest edition tackles new subjects, like:

  • How technology is changing fatherhood.
  • Shifting societal expectations for fathers.
  • The effects of participating in pregnancy on the male brain.

If you're in an LGBTQ relationship, you may have some questions about fertility, conception, and pregnancy that aren't covered in most parenting books. While this book isn't a week to week guide that can cover every detail, it is a lovely compilation of stories and essays from people who have navigated this journey before.

And Baby Makes More is the perfect addition to your home library if you have questions about sperm or egg donation, surrogacy, or the legal issues that LGBTQ parents can face.

So far we've featured a few books about pregnancy that really cover all the facts. But let's be real... sometimes we just need some belly laughs. For those moments when you just want to hear from a sarcastic, hilarious voice that understands your pain, we recommend The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy.

This paperback provides a candid, authentic look into some of the less appealing aspects of pregnancy... like inattentive partners, body image issues, and awkward bodily functions. Definitely geared for the light-hearted reader, this book will fill you with a sense of validation even if it doesn't have the medical expertise to answer some of your more pressing questions.

The last book we're featuring on the topics of fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth is this amazing guide to natural methods. Many expectant parents want to experience natural childbirth, without medical intervention or drugs. The Mama Natural Week-to-Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth is the ultimate resource for crunchy parents-to-be.

Babyproofing Your Marriage is a wildly popular book, but we don't recommend this book—especially if this is your first baby. It is meant to be a candid look at the ways your relationship might change with pregnancy and parenthood, but instead it reads as a horror novel aimed to terrify you until you regret becoming pregnant at all.

Reviewers really complain about the way this book stereotypes male partners, frequently suggesting that men are generally unwilling or incapable of being an equal participant in parenting. Where it aims to be gritty and no-holds-barred, it ends up just being negative for the sake of negativity.

This might be an okay choice for a parent who is seasoned at most parenting issues and who really loves sarcasm. If you're a pregnant for the first time or still trying to conceive, however, you'll want to skip this one.

Now that we've covered the best books for expectant parents about pregnancy and fertility... let's browse some excellent choices for parenting questions.

New parents report that they feel the most stress and anxiety over their child's sleep schedule and crying, and who can blame them!?!?! Learning to understand a baby's cries and needs is like trying to speak a foreign language!

Luckily there's a baby book to cover this stressful topic: The Happiest Baby on the Block! This book is perfect if you want to learn how to calm a fussy baby... it even covers colicky babies!

Children are notoriously not well-behaved, so a large chunk of parenting focuses around how to correct and re-direct inappropriate behaviors. There are many schools of thought about discipline, but we recommend this book most of all: Parenting with Love & Logic.

The strategies covered in this book will help you navigate solutions to parent/child power struggles without frustration. They will also help you teach your children how to be responsible for their own actions, without forcing them to experience pain or shame as punishment.

Any experienced parent will tell you to expect strong feelings and emotions when you're not able to figure out why your baby is upset. Kids' brains function much differently from adult ones, and parents often confuse completely valid, normal baby milestones with dangerous or inappropriate behaviors.

The Whole-Brain Child is devoted to helping parents learn the answer to the question "why." Why does my child act that way? Why do they talk like that? All these questions can generally be answered by understanding the brain development of children. We recommend this book for first-time or seasoned parents, this book will let you know what's important and what can be taken with a grain of salt.

Society tends to dictate what parenting practices are considered healthy. As time goes on and the status quo changes, so do the rules about what is "right" and "wrong" in parenting. It can be very confusing and overwhelming, but it doesn't need to be. This book provides solutions.

To help keep things in perspective, we recommend the book Bringing Up Bébé. Set to tell the story of a single mother adapting to French parenting, this enlightening book reminds us that some of the things we'd absolutely never do in America are both normal and accepted in other areas of the world.

As children get older and learn to talk, parents face a whole new variety of challenges. Teaching a child to communicate big feelings and emotions is hard because their brains aren't fully developed to process those feelings and emotions well. So how do you stop dinner time from becoming a family brawl every single day?

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk is the perfect book for any parent who is struggling to teach effective communication to their kids. Since children cannot understand adult language, this book teaches you how to validate your kids using words and phrases they will grasp.

By showing empathy and compassion to your child, and making sure that they feel understood and loved, you can also teach your child how to be a good listener to others. With this book, you can learn both skills and pass them along to your kids.

SKIP IT: Any Book That Doesn't Feel Right for You

Pro Tip: Parenting is about 80 percent gut reaction. While you certainly can (and should) learn as much as you can about parenting in advance... there is no amount of research you can do that will fully prepare you for being a parent.

You'll learn quickly to trust your instincts, and that's true for the type of books you read also. There are millions of books about parenting, each with its own set of rules and margins. Realistically, you'll only really relate to a handful of them... so don't feel badly if you get a chapter or two into a book and just can't vibe with its message. It's okay to put a book down and try something different if you're not getting what you need. Consider it a test run for all of the strange an impromptu things you'll do once the baby is here.

There are millions of options available if you're looking for parenting books. That's great news if you have a question that isn't answered by the books we've featured here... the best thing about modern parenting is that we don't have to do it alone. Between printed books, e-books, and online forums, you can find the answer to any question your child throws your way.

Start your collection with these best books for expectant parents and you'll be set for the foreseeable future. Make sure you share this list with all the expectant parents in your life!

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About the Creator

Alicia Springer

Mother of two. Personal trainer. Fitness is about determination, not age.

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