Why I Don’t Read Pregnancy Books

From the moment a woman sees those two pink lines form across her at-home pregnancy test, she immediately begins the process of prepping and planning their pregnancy down to researching the foods that’s on the no-no list, looking up just how much caffeine she’s allowed daily, and holding off on those next root touch up appointments.

Pregnancy is an amazing and beautiful process, but it comes with its fair share of stress and uncertainty. In attempts to alleviate those stressors we turn to online message boards and pregnancy books from our local bookstore. These pregnancy journals and books written by doctors claim to have the most current information available and those message boards make you feel like you can ask anything and get a girlfriend’s response. Well, I’m here today to tell you to never, ever, ever read a pregnancy book or go online for any help related to your pregnancy. Here’s why.

Pregnancy is an amazing and beautiful process, but it comes with its fair share of stress and uncertainty. In attempts to alleviate those stressors we turn to online message boards and pregnancy books from our local bookstore. These pregnancy journals and books written by doctors claim to have the most current information available and those message boards make you feel like you can ask anything and get a girlfriend’s response. Well, I’m here today to tell you to never, ever, ever read a pregnancy book or go online for any help related to your pregnancy. Here’s why.

drop the book and walk away…

Within the first few months of telling our family and friends we were pregnant we were happily surprised by a close friend who sent us a care package that arrived with a pregnancy pillow (OMG possibly the best invention ever made – seriously), a couple pregnancy/birth books, and a few other baby related items. I found it to be so thoughtful since I had no idea how to be pregnant and everything around me told me that reading pregnancy books was a must-do…otherwise you’re like a teen mom and already off to a bad start. So, like any other pregnant woman who didn’t want to be shamed, I began perusing through each book and skimming over chapters here and there.

The one book that completely got me was the popular What To Expect When Expecting. This is known to be as close to the pregnancy Bible as the Bible itself, but after reading through it I have no idea why any woman would want to read it. It is filled with information of every possible symptom, scenario, and fact about pregnancy; all of which maybe 5% actually pertains to any one woman’s experience – or at least mine. There is such a thing as too much information and the last thing any pregnant woman needs to know about is Deep Venous Thrombosis or Placental Abruption. I’m not saying that there aren’t women out there who experience these uncommon complications, but the average 12 week pregnant woman doesn’t need to consume her mind with everything that may go wrong.

So, put down the books and listen to your practitioner. They’re the one feeling you up, swabbing your lady bits, and monitoring both you and your baby’s health. Those are the professionals to whom you need to pay the most attention to and if you’re worried or unsure about anything, ask them! I couldn’t tell you how many times my husband or I called our doctors office to ask some question about “was that piece of Brie I ate safe?” or “is this sensation normal?” That’s their job.

…a lesson learned

Besides, when I read that my doctor should give me a Rh Factor blood test in addition to a glucose screening around 35 weeks and he didn’t mention Rh anything at our appointment…I asked him if that was something I needed. He looked at me and asked, “If you don’t mind, where did you hear that?” I told him that I read it in one of my pregnancy books (Thanks, What To Expect…) and he just chuckled and literally told me to throw out that book. He opened my file and showed me that when I first came in at 8 weeks and had all that initial blood work done, they had already tested my Rh. I was negative and that test didn’t apply to me…so, I learned a major lesson in that moment: our doctor has this pregnancy covered and he would inform me of anything I needed to know.

Google isn’t your OB/GYN

I can’t get simpler or more direct than that. The last time I checked, Google hasn’t been up your whoo-ha to know what you’re experiencing and if it is normal or not. So why ask it? Stay away from the internet, blogs like mine, and other online resources about a symptom you may be feeling or if that slice of prosciutto you ate will cause a miscarriage. The internet is a crazy place and just like WebMD diagnosing your headache as a brain tumor, you will find every possible piece of misinformation out there and it will drive you crazy. Know that every pregnancy is different and comes with different symptoms and side affects. When in doubt, talk to your doctor and speak to them about what you’re feeling.

apps I recommend…

Apps on smartphones are the way of the pregnancy future. I personally only use two apps to follow my pregnancy with: Baby Center and BabyBump, but even then I only skim them and just read the bit about the size fruit or vegetable my baby is and what kind of development they’re most likely going through that week. I also like the photo documenting option where it keeps track of your growing baby bump so you can look back from time to time to see how much you’ve grown. That’s it. Stay away from the message boards and don’t be tempted to even curiously go there. Or at least know I’ve warned you. There’s nothing on those boards that will ever make you feel secure and any question you have should be directed to your doctor anyways…besides those other women will just tell you that they’re not a doctor and recommend you speak to your own. Okay, so there’s one piece of good advice you’ll find on those message boards.

enjoy your pregnancy!

Pregnancy is nine months of your life where you’re gestating a human being. That’s a pretty big deal and no matter how many times you do it (or if you only do it once), it’ll be a special moment in time. It’s important to enjoy this period of your life because there’s a lot about pregnancy that is simply out of your control. The human body is an intricate system and it knows what it’s doing so listen to your body, your doctor, and even yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, call your doctor and ask. If you’re feeling amazing, hold on to these good days because you never know when swollen feet or a baby the size of a mini-watermelon will sit on your bladder and cause you pee every 5 minutes.

Also, having been through a miscarriage before, I can tell you from experience to not miss out on your next pregnancy because of those fears. I would be a liar if I said that my husband and I weren’t skeptical and didn’t want to set ourselves up for disappointment at the beginning of this pregnancy, but here I sit at 38 weeks and about to deliver a healthy baby boy. Like I said, a lot of pregnancy is out of our control and it’s important to enjoy every moment we have.

Aside from throwing out those pregnancy books, what advice do you have for other mamas-to-be out there? What’s the best piece advice you ever received (solicited or unsolicited)?

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  • What to Expect always seems to be the #1 book every pregnant person picks up and reads! I had no idea that it included a bunch of “what if” scenarios. I was thinking it was more of a generic here’s what happens at each stage. And Dr. Google is always the worst (even for non-pregnant people)!

    • It is and I’m not quite sure why! At this point I think it’s just a book that’s handed down and everyone is told to read it. There’s a reason the book is so thick and has multiple editions, though. I’m not saying that it isn’t helpful in the sense that it does kind of walk you through each stage. But, I found it to be very overwhelming and it covers almost too much for the average pregnant woman. I would recommend their app, which is a shorter and sweeter version of what you’ll experience during each trimester 🙂

    • It is and I’m not quite sure why! At this point I think it’s just a book that’s handed down and everyone is told to read it. There’s a reason the book is so thick and has multiple editions, though. I’m not saying that it isn’t helpful in the sense that it does kind of walk you through each stage. But, I found it to be very overwhelming and it covers almost too much for the average pregnant woman. I would recommend their app, which is a shorter and sweeter version of what you’ll experience during each trimester 🙂

  • I have What to Expect but have only read the weekly insights (though really that’s all online). I felt the same way about baby books as I did about infertility books. I honestly only skimmed a few before realizing the information overload would stress me out!

  • I know for a fact I won’t be reading any books or Googling anything because it would honestly scare the bejesus out of me. LOL!

  • I know for a fact I won’t be reading any books or Googling anything because it would honestly scare the bejesus out of me. LOL!

  • Ashleigh

    I would have to agree to this! With my first {9 years ago} I probably should have looked into some info, as I was only 20 and had no clue what I was getting my body into lol. But with the next two, I used apps and other blogs to help me out. Thank you for sharing!!

  • I guess I’m not as fond or trusting of doctors. 🙂 When I had my first child in 1996, we couldn’t Google everything, so What To Expect and The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy helped me understand what was going on. I wonder if the women who have recommended that you read them are older pre-blog moms?

    I’ve had six children (one induced, two emergency transfers (that is, planned homebirths that had complications that needed a hospital), two midwife-assisted homebirths and one unassisted homebirth) and four miscarriages. I definitely don’t panic about childbirth stuff.

    Doctors (and midwives and nurses) are not infallible. They’re just not. I’ve seen them make far too many mistakes over the years, many of which I only caught because I’ve educated myself about everything that was going on. Like the one who wanted to give me the Rh shot because “you’re Rh negative”. Nooo … my mother is Rh negative and had to have the shot because I’m Rh positive. Back then they did bloodwork on the baby at birth to make sure. Besides, this was with my fourth child – and I’d never had the shot before. My goodness, she argued with me. Apparently my blood type had changed in the eighteen months between my third and fourth child! (Or, you know, her test was wrong).

    Back in 1996, my first child was born with some serious health problems. The doctors gave me horrible advice and, like many young mothers, I thought the doctor always knew best. Once I realized how wrong they were, the damage was done. Since then, I educate myself. In the end, it’s our responsibility, not theirs, to make sure we are safe and well.

  • I guess I’m not as fond or trusting of doctors. 🙂 When I had my first child in 1996, we couldn’t Google everything, so What To Expect and The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy helped me understand what was going on. I wonder if the women who have recommended that you read them are older pre-blog moms?

    I’ve had six children (one induced, two emergency transfers (that is, planned homebirths that had complications that needed a hospital), two midwife-assisted homebirths and one unassisted homebirth) and four miscarriages. I definitely don’t panic about childbirth stuff.

    Doctors (and midwives and nurses) are not infallible. They’re just not. I’ve seen them make far too many mistakes over the years, many of which I only caught because I’ve educated myself about everything that was going on. Like the one who wanted to give me the Rh shot because “you’re Rh negative”. Nooo … my mother is Rh negative and had to have the shot because I’m Rh positive. Back then they did bloodwork on the baby at birth to make sure. Besides, this was with my fourth child – and I’d never had the shot before. My goodness, she argued with me. Apparently my blood type had changed in the eighteen months between my third and fourth child! (Or, you know, her test was wrong).

    Back in 1996, my first child was born with some serious health problems. The doctors gave me horrible advice and, like many young mothers, I thought the doctor always knew best. Once I realized how wrong they were, the damage was done. Since then, I educate myself. In the end, it’s our responsibility, not theirs, to make sure we are safe and well.

  • Oh my gosh – yessss! I totally agree! Waaaay too much to stress and worry about. And I learned the hard way to close myself off from listening to other women who felt like they just “had” to share their scary birth stories with me. Ugh.

  • Kelly- what a fresh perspective! I didn’t read pregnancy books either. Not because they freaked me out, but because I’m lazy. LOL. But for real, another great resource was my own mom, I would call her all the time asking about this and that, and if what I was feeling was normal. Cheers!

  • Kristina Padgett

    I loved this. I’m 18 weeks with my first pregnancy so I have been “over reading” hahah. It has made me paranoid sometimes but I’m stopped for my own sanity! Great perspective, thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Belle Vie A Deux

    I never read What To Expect. But I did read a lot, and do. I loved the baby center app with the “your baby this week” option. So fun. I think women should be informed about what is going on though- however they get that information.

  • Belle Vie A Deux

    I never read What To Expect. But I did read a lot, and do. I loved the baby center app with the “your baby this week” option. So fun. I think women should be informed about what is going on though- however they get that information.

  • I can imagine that reading all these books and googling every single thing when you’re pregnant would make you super anxious. I’m already a little bit of a worry wort, so whenever I get pregnant, it’s probably wise for me to leave the books alone like you do.

    Best Wishes,
    Allison | http://www.LiveLifeWellBlog.com

  • I can imagine that reading all these books and googling every single thing when you’re pregnant would make you super anxious. I’m already a little bit of a worry wort, so whenever I get pregnant, it’s probably wise for me to leave the books alone like you do.

    Best Wishes,
    Allison | http://www.LiveLifeWellBlog.com

  • Abbey Hall (Mind, Body, Babies

    While I agree with you on throwing out WTEWYE, as it is the worst pregnancy book out there. The author isn’t even a childbirth professional, and it is filled with fear-based information. On the other hand, there are a lot of great other brooks out there, and I believe there is a lot of power in educating yourself so you can make informed decisions with your care for yourself and your baby. As a doula, I provide a lending library of great resources, and evidence-based resources so parents can easily pick through all the confusing/wrong info out there and find what is applicable and interesting to them.