My son did just turn five months old, but I still finished reading this book (however slowly) because 1.) I am a book completionist and 2.) out of all the pregnancy/childbirth books I read, this one was my favorite.
My insurance company is Blue Cross Blue Shield, and they surprised me during my pregnancy. I mean in a good way – yes, it is possible for health insurance companies to have good surprises. For one thing, I was given a case worker who called me every month to ask me how my pregnancy was going and check up on my physical and mental health. That was pretty nice. But what I liked more was getting this surprise package in the mail. A free book!
And I really really liked this book. I was sort of predisposed to because it’s from the Mayo Clinic. I admit I don’t actually know a lot about the Mayo Clinic, but when it pops up on the health blogs I read, it’s always a good thing. I think of the Mayo Clinic as the place you go when doctors fail you. Like, going to the Mayo Clinic is actually a little medical fantasy of mine.
(Side note: how sad is it that I have a medical fantasy instead of fantasizing about just being well?)
This really is the perfect pregnancy book in my opinion. It’s all fact-based and it focuses on delivering medical information in a way that’s simple enough for a non-doctor to understand. There’s no kumbaya in this book. I’m an emotional person who loves romanticizing things but when it comes to my health and my body, I don’t like to wade through fluff. I want the facts. I will add my own kumbaya, don’t worry. It’s childbirth, I was drunk on kumbaya hormones the ENTIRE time. I needed to understand what was happening and what was going to happen, and I only had nine months to learn.
Speaking of which, that’s another great thing about this book – it’s quick. It’s also got a great reference section that will point you exactly to whatever information you’re looking for. This book is definitely set up to be a reference book – you can read month by month chapters on the developing pregnancy, and you can look up any symptoms, illnesses, medicines, diet questions, basically anything that pops into your head very easily. Of course I read it cover to cover because that’s what you do with books in my opinion. If I need a quick reference, I’ll reach for google faster than I’ll reach for a book. Still, it wasn’t bad as a cover-to-cover read either, and I appreciate that versatility.
It did pull the same thing as What to Expect When You’re Expecting and the Official Lamaze Guide did in the chapters on complications and loss – saying not to read this unless you’re experiencing a complication. I get that pregnancy involves a lot of undue worrying – BELIEVE ME, I know – but I don’t know. Education eases my fears. I know not everyone is that way. But I’d prefer to see warnings more like “read this section only if you feel learning more will ease your fears – anxiety is very bad for expecting mothers and you may skip this section if you feel it would distress you.” Or something like that.
As much as I really liked this book, it was pretty far from perfect. I admit that some of my thoughts may be biased because of the fact that this book was free. I automatically assumed that because it was free, not as much effort was put in to it.
This book does seem like it was largely copy and pasted from a conglomeration of Mayo Clinic sources rather than compiled by an actual writer. I say that because there are a lot of formatting errors, like a lack of spaces between words or extra spaces around punctuation. And occasionally there are typos, usually in the form of tenses that don’t make sense. There was even one instance in the pregnancy loss section where a paragraph was straight-up repeated. That’s pretty sloppy and does sort of make you wonder how much you can trust it when there were clearly…. lapses in effort.
But I also got this book for free. And the information was good. It never showed bias towards natural childbirth or more medicalized childbirth. Plus, even in sections where you might think they’d have to get fluffy (like the section on pregnancy loss) they keep it very respectfully informative. They discuss the emotional recovery aspect very seriously, encouraging the reader to seek support and care, but the book also remembers its role as a giver of information, and offers data as a was to understand what physically happens in the hopes that it might bring some level of comfort and acceptance. It also very pointedly lays out things that cannot cause pregnancy loss, to lay to rest any blame game the reader might take up.
It also had an entire section on chronic illness and pregnancy, and it was pretty extensive! That’ll always win you points on this blog.
All in all, I do recommend this book. If you get it for free, definitely read it. If you’re interested, go by your local Half-Price Books or check online and buy it used. It’s not going to read like a New York Times Best-Seller, but it’s got accurate, unbiased info, and that’s very hard to find. Especially when it comes to pregnancy.
After reading this, I am definitely going to seek out the Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby’s First Year (even though it’s almost half-over already) ((*cries in the corner*)).
They hooked me with their free book and now I’ll buy the rest of them. That’s how they get you!