Five years ago, I was pretty clueless when it came to anything having to do with fertility, pregnancy or babies. But when Chris and I decided to start trying for a family, I really wanted to educate myself as much as possible before (and during) the process. Maybe it’s my Type A personality, but I found that this was a topic that I absolutely loved to research. I’ve read more books than I can count (and listened to probably five years’ worth of podcasts) on conceiving and pregnancy, and these five books have truly been life-changing for me. I’m sure that there are a lot of really great books out there… these just happen to be my favorite! I’ve referred back to them over and over again, throughout trying-to-conceive and pregnancy, so I wanted to share them with you all today.
I really believe that for an individual to make a decision about something, they must be presented with both sides of an issue. I thought these books did a brilliant job of presenting all the research, giving recommendations, but ultimately allowing the reader to make the decision for themselves.
1. Real Food for Pregnancy, by Lily Nichols
Listening to a podcast with Lily Nichols is what first had me questioning whether or not I should start eating meat again after being plant-based for more than a year. I purchased her book, Real Food for Pregnancy, started eating animal products again, and haven’t looked back since. Nichols has done an INCREDIBLE amount of in-depth research on nutrition and doesn’t just make recommendations, but explains why she is making them based on the studies. She also addresses a lot of the “traditional” prenatal advice and has outstanding explanations for why she believes women should incorporate meat, animal fat and full-fat diary products into their diets. Since it can be pretty overwhelming knowing where to start, she also includes meal suggestions, recipes and even a sample meal plan that was SO helpful for me when transitioning into eating meat again. Chris and I have made several of her recipes, including the meatloaf and spinach artichoke dip, that we really loved. There are also sections of the book dedicated to exercising while pregnant, vitamins and supplements, non-toxic cookware, and a section dedicated to controversial foods like sushi, deli meat, and undercooked eggs (and some of her recommendations may surprise you!). Basically, this book has been my BIBLE throughout pregnancy, and one that I revisit time and time again.
2. The Complete Organic Pregnancy, by Dierdre Dolan and Alexandra Zissu
This book is a must-read for any woman even thinking of getting pregnant within the next five years. At the core, this book is really about living an organic life in general, and taking a closer look at your home and surrounding environment to make it as “toxin-free” as possible. The book is organized into three sections: pre-conception, pregnancy, and babyhood. In each section, the authors covers food, home environment, work environment, fitness, and play, and gives advice on food, water filters, beauty products, household cleaners, plastics and more. The text is easy to read and broken up by personal essays from mothers (the essays were actually my favorite part – they are quite entertaining and brought a human and more personal element to the book!). Although some of the advice may be a bit over the top for the average person (can you really afford an organic mattress for you and for baby?), I thought the overall message was one of hope, in the fact that we do have control over our environment and our lives! Since becoming pregnant, I’ve referred back to this book over and over again for its valuable references and advice – especially while building our registry.
3. It Starts with the Egg, by Rebecca Fett
I read this book when I was preparing myself to go the IVF route, but honestly it is a great read for anyone who wants to get pregnant. This book was highly educational and revealed why it’s important that both egg and sperm quality matter when trying to create a baby. The book was also incredibly positive and left with me with the mindset that we can make a difference in our own egg and sperm quality based on our lifestyle and supplement choices. Here’s an excerpt taken from the back cover of the book: The latest scientific research reveals that egg quality has a powerful impact on how long it takes to get pregnant and the risk of miscarriage. Poor egg quality is in fact the single most important cause of age-related infertility, recurrent miscarriage, and failed IVF cycles. Based on a vast array of scientific research, It Starts with the Egg provides a comprehensive program for improving egg quality in three months, with specific advice tailored to a variety of fertility challenges – including endometriosis, unexplained infertility, diminished ovarian reserve, PCOS, and recurrent miscarriage. Chris and I really relied on this book as guidance when trying to decide which, if any, supplements we should take while trying to conceive.
4. Expecting Better, by Emily Oster
This is a really interesting read by Emily Oster – even though Oster writes about pregnancy, she is actually an award-winning economist! Using her skills as an economist, she has analyzed hundreds of thousands of studies on pregnancy and, in her book Expecting Better, calmly presents the data on every major decision you’ll need to make during pregnancy. I love that she encourages you to form your own opinions on each topic, instead of treating you like a simpleton who can’t be trusted to understand anything other than black-and-white pregnancy “rules.” Some of the questions she addresses in the book are:
- What is the evidence that having a cup of coffee will harm your baby? What about two or three cups? Why is there so much conflicting advice on this?
- What is the evidence that a glass of wine will harm your baby?
- What is the statistical likelihood of issues arising from eating deli meats, eggs, fish, shellfish, soft cheeses, and sushi?
- What percent of women are still experiencing morning sickness each week? Are your morning sickness symptoms worse than the average woman and how risky are the drugs for it?
- Is emptying the cat litter box as dangerous as gardening?
Some of the answers she finds may certainly surprise you… they surprised me and changed my mind about quite a few things!
5. Pregnancy Day by Day, by Maggie Blott
This book is a must-have for any expecting mama who wants to know everything about their developing baby at every stage! It’s a breakdown of pregnancy day-by-day, and one thousand times better than any pregnancy app I’ve downloaded on my phone. The phone apps do a good job of giving me weekly updates on the baby, but if you want something truly in-depth every day, then this is the book for you. It honestly reminds me of one of my school textbooks from science class (but in the best way possible). It covers each day of pregnancy in detail, as well as labor, birth and life with a new baby. Chris and I love reading it together each night – and the pictures are also brilliant!
Let me know if there are any other books on pregnancy that you think are worth the read! 🙂