10 best pregnancy books that help to prepare expectant parents for birth and beyond

These helpful, informative and downright entertaining reads will help you navigate pregnancy and parenthood

Stacey Smith
Thursday 27 May 2021 16:53
<p>We read an array of parenting books from across the market, from instruction manuals to tongue-in-cheek guides</p>

We read an array of parenting books from across the market, from instruction manuals to tongue-in-cheek guides

New parents have always sought advice about parenting. Where once this might have been passed down from generation to generation, these days the internet is on hand to provide more (often conflicted) information than you will ever need.

However, in our opinion, you can’t beat a good book recommendation to cut through all the noise. From guiding you through pregnancy itself to caring for your child once they arrive, these titles will demystify long-held beliefs, challenge any preconceived ideas you might have, and shed light on the most unspoken aspects of parenting.

There obviously is no way to fully prepare yourself for a baby – no matter how many books you read. However, we think these titles are a great place to start.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

The best pregnancy books for 2021 are:

  • Best overallExpecting Better Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know: £6.76, Blackwells.co.uk
  • Bestbook on hypnobirthing – Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better: £9.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best book for feminists Give Birth Like a Feminist: Your body. Your baby. Your choices: £8.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best all-rounder – The Modern Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond How to Have a Healthier Pregnancy, Easier Birth and Smoother Postnatal Period: £12.21, Blackwells.co.uk
  • Best book for self-care – Why Did No One Tell Me? What Every Woman Needs to Know to Protect, Heal and Nurture Her Body Through Motherhood: £11.29, Blackwells.co.uk
  • Best for baby’s first year Motherhood Your Way: £12.99, Waterstones.com
  • Best book on feedingThe Baby Feeding Book: Your essential guide to breastfeeding, bottle-feeding and starting solids with confidence: £10.06, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best book to gift new parentsNobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood: £9.99, Waterstones.com
  • Best for couplesBaby Bomb: A Relationship Survival Guide for New Parents: £13.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for those short on timeNobody Tells You: Over 100 Honest Stories About Pregnancy, Birth and Parenthood: £10.99, Amazon.co.uk

‘Expecting Better’ by Emily Oster, published by Orion

Best: Overall

Just discovered you’re pregnant? This book is a great place to start. Rather than just providing a load of hard and fast rules that you “must” follow, Oster looks at the statistics and studies around all elements of pregnancy and birth. Clearly laying out the information behind many common pregnancy rules, you’re then trusted to make your own mind up. In short, you might not feel quite so guilty about indulging in the odd glass of wine or second cup of coffee.

‘Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better’ by Siobhan Miller, published by Piatkus

Best for: Hypnobirthing

Intrigued about hypnobirthing? This practical book does its best to eradicate any fear you may have surrounding your birth experience. Siobhan Miller, founder of The Positive Birth Company and mum-of-three, calmly explains the many different types of birth you may encounter and provides helpful advice on how to work with your body, rather than against it. It genuinely left us feeling excited rather than anxious about welcoming our new bundle of joy into the world – whether they end up arriving via a water birth or unplanned caesarean.

‘Give Birth Like a Feminist’ by Milli Hill, published by HQ

Best for: Feminists

We were in two minds as to whether to include this book as, unlike the hypnobirthing book above, Milli Hill lays out some scary statistics, which at times feels like a history lesson to birth. However, ultimately it’s worth facing these fears head-on, as it offers much the same advice. Hill believes that a well-informed woman is a powerful one; and that with clarity comes a calmer, confident birth. Building on the #MeToo movement, Hill explains that actually, yes we do have choices and we should absolutely retain our dignity and doctors must seek consent. Because a mother’s experience is every bit as important as the healthy, happy baby at the end of it. A powerful read whether you’re pregnant or not.

‘The Modern Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond' by Marie Louise, published by Ebury Publishing

Best: All-rounder

If you’re only going to read one book, this one offers advice on everything from pregnancy, birth and those first few days afterwards – and all through the eyes of a midwife. Split into manageable sections, Louise has created a truly modern tool kit for first-time parents. We liked the upbeat, positive tone, helpful illustrations, and key point recaps at the end of each chapter.

‘Why Did No One Tell Me?’ by Emma Brockwell, published by Ebury Publishing

Best: For self-care

Hopefully, you’ll have a textbook pregnancy, bouncing back to the fully recovered version of yourself in good time – however, for some, this is not the case. For far too long these common issues – including pelvic floor problems and general post-op healing – have just been considered par for the course when it comes to bringing a baby into the world. Brockwell doesn’t agree and instead urges new mums to tackle treatable postnatal problems, rather than put up with them.

‘Motherhood Your Way’ by Hollie de Cruz, published by Ebury Publishing

Best: For baby’s first year

Once you’ve got your head around pregnancy and the birth itself, parenting coach Hollie de Cruz guides you through the baby’s first year. This book is designed to make new parents feel empowered, or at the very least like you’ve got this. By providing a host of tactics, including meditation guides and exercises, you’re encouraged to leave the new mum comparisons at the door and tune into your baby’s unique needs instead.

‘The Baby Feeding Book’ by Vanessa Christie, published by Piatkus

Best: Book on feeding

When we first started compiling our maternity reading list, we gave a lot of focus on the nine months leading up to big day, as well as the birth itself. However, we suddenly realised we knew very little of what to expect once the baby was here, including how the hell to feed the poor mite. Thankfully this book offers non-judgemental advice on all aspects of feeding your baby, whether you’re going with breast or bottle, through to the introduction of solid foods.

‘Nobody Told Me’ by Hollie McNish, published by Little, Brown

Best: Book to gift new parents

Hollie McNish documents her experience of pregnancy and beyond through a series of short, snappy poems and stories, opening up with a recollection of finding out she was pregnant while at Glastonbury festival. It’s accessible, even if you only have a few minutes before bed, and whether you read along as your child grows or gobble up in one sitting, we appreciated how it was funny, raw and relatable in one. A beautiful book to gift to parents-to-be.

‘Baby Bomb’ by Kara Hoppe and Stan Tatkin, published by New Harbinger

Best for: Couples

It’s fair to say, having a baby changes everything. If you’re embarking on this new adventure with a partner, this book aims to make sure your foundation is rock solid, making you better parents in the process. Consisting of 10 fundamental principles, it aims to put you on the same page – taking you from being a strong team of two, transitioning into a unit of three, and finally thriving as a family. Because of lack of sleep, explosive nappies and just simply feeling overwhelmed will test even the strongest of couples.

‘Nobody Tells You…’ by Becca Maberly, published by Bluebird

Best: For those short on time

Despite being very honest, this collection of short stories manages to avoid scaremongering, without shying away from the nitty-gritty bits of parenthood. Covering the good, the bad and the ugly, it includes more than 100 real-life experiences – from trying to conceive, breastfeeding, and the importance of self-care – showing you that there really is no one-size-fits-all approach. We read it cover to cover in one weekend, but the bitesize sections are also perfectly suited to dipping in and out.

The verdict: Pregnancy books

Becoming a parent is no small feat, so rather than recommend one book as our best buy, we’d suggest starting with Expecting Better and working your way through them all. It’s a great place to start and will empower you to think for yourself throughout pregnancy and beyond.

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