I started with this journey to motherhood even before we conceived. I guess it is the researcher in me who wanted to get the facts straight and ready myself for this life-changing endeavour. As they say, knowledge is power and I wanted to feel like I have the right information to prepare me for pregnancy, childbirth, parenthood and the like. I guess I also learned from my experience transitioning to married life as a housewife where there are no such “manuals.” I did my own research in the Interview with the Housewives Series where I learned a lot! Now, I do not have to interview all those who became pregnant and are mothers because there is such a huge source of information out there!
One of the more ubiquitous references is the What to Expect Series.
I started with What to Expect Before You’re Expecting – yes there is such a thing! It brought me back to my Health subject back in high school. The book discusses how to get pregnant – the science of it all. How to prepare yourself for pregnancy – the “vices” you should stop and the tests you need to take. I felt it was actually more scientific than the other What to Expect books. I guess it’s really the case when you’re Trying To Conceive (TTC) because the work is mostly done by you and your partner! Who else! What I like about it is it has special sections for your male partner as well! True, it is not the work of one and the baby-daddy-to-be’s should prepare as well. However I didn’t get to finish the book because 1) it was too scientific for me (got bored after while) and 2) I conceived shortly after I started it! Yay!
When it was confirmed that we are indeed pregnant, I moved on to What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It is a true pregnancy reference guide. I like the layout because it is divided into months (and gives you an indicator of the weeks that correspond to the months), what happens during that month – what you feel emotionally and physically, your baby’s growth and what to expect during your visits to the doctor. It also discusses pertinent questions culled from research of the usual worries and concerns of moms in that particular month. Very, very useful! It also has special section for special concerns (read: pregnancy complications) – but if there are no indicators to say you have a complicated pregnancy, save yourself the worry and just skip this chapter altogether. A special section for hubby is also available and it would be nice to lend him the book once you’re done. I basically read the book one month ahead of each month that was being discussed. After the 5th or 6th month, I decided to just finish reading the whole thing because I felt more comfortable with my pregnancy by that time.
During my first trimester I also read What to Eat When You’re Expecting which basically guides you with the right food to give you the right nutrition for pregnancy. My relationship with food and eating is anything but regimented and the “nutritionist speak” is really alien to me and even intimidating. More than help me, it was stressing me out! Moreover I was reading it during the height of my morning sickness so I didn’t have any choice of what my tummy can take. In any case, I took the book as a guide for what not to eat and used the no fail guide of go, grow, glow as a framework for nutritious eating during my pregnancy.
Even if baby has not arrived yet, I have started reading What to Expect The First Year. For one because it provides you a useful shopping guide for preparing for baby’s coming. It was mainly applicable to the climate where the authors were from so I still had to check with my mom friends which are critical and which are just nice to haves. Second, it has a good resource on breastfeeding (or formula feeding if that’s your choice) which also provided me with the basic practical information to get me ready. Third, of course you have to read in advance about how baby will be like when she’s born right? So the newborn chapter (where I am at now) is very useful to say what are the processes for testing baby, what are testing options, what are the newborn reflexes and the like. I will probably use the same strategy I did with What to Expect When You’re Expecting with my reading plan – reading the chapter that talks about the month to come. I always feel comfortable when I do some advanced reading!
Having my first pregnancy away from home, the What to Expect Series was a wonderful guide on exactly that – What to Expect! In as much as it is a good reference, it SHOULD NOT replace your OB or your primary care giver of choice. As a good friend said, better to exercise caution! Moreover, it is a resource but at the end of the day, listen to yourself – you know your body (and later on your baby!) best. We are all different (no two pregnancies – not even of the same woman are the same) and some things just cannot be generalized. But you do have wisdom and a budding mother’s instinct – use it!