Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
Right at first, it’s hard to know where to turn for answers. Over the course of your pregnancy and your baby’s early life, you’ll get a lot of recommendations and probably find books whose tone you like and some authors you trust. But before you’re telling anyone you’re pregnant and before you’ve even been in to see your doctor, where do you look?
The Internet. Let’s all take a moment to remember that time you decided you had scurvy because you had a foot cramp and went on over to Yahoo Answers at 11PM. As ever in matters subjective and medical, the internet is not your friend.
At least not until you’ve calmed down a bit. Which will probably be when your child is six or seven.
As we all know, the crazies are out in full force on-line and someone is always available to tell you that you are irreversibly harming your baby by getting out of bed in the morning. Skip it if you can. If you can’t (I couldn’t), try to only look things up online during the day when you’re well-rested and rational and can contact someone not pregnant right now for a sanity check when you go off the deep end because some nut job posted that eating yams will give your child a cleft palate.
Books. Instead of the internet, get your hands on a good resource book as soon as possible. There are hundreds on the market but I quickly discovered that many of them were not for me. Prime example: someone will inevitably send or lend you a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Not to be too blunt, but I hated this classic. I think the tone is overbearing, the advice overly paranoid and the authors are not doctors, so, bottom line, the advice they present as the word of law is, in actuality, their personal preference for the very, very straight and the extremely narrow. It made me tense just reading a few paragraphs. That’s not what you want when you’re pregnant. (Or ever, really.)
The book my OB recommended, we loved. 1000 Questions About Your Pregnancy by Dr. Jeffrey Thurston answers all the basic questions expectant moms have as well as more complicated ones for conditions we thankfully didn’t encounter. When you’re worried at 3AM, a good index is a must-have and this book has that, albeit with a weird twist to keep in mind: the numbers in the index for each subject you look up refer to the question number, not the page number the answer is on. Other than that, the book was super reasonable, even occasionally funny and very thorough. The fold-out timeline in the back was a handy go-to for where we were and what to expect in the next few weeks. Loved it. Get it.
We also used the Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy but not often. As with many books and web sites, it frequently referred me to my doctor for an answer to what I thought should be a pretty straightforward question. I can understand their abundance of caution and unwillingness to set themselves up for a lawsuit, but it would be nice to get a little more specific information right this very minute.