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Best pregnancy books to help parents-to-be prepare for a baby

Whilst parenting doesn’t come with a handbook, pregnancy books can be a helpful resource for expectant mums and dads. Whether you’re preparing for pregnancy, birth or beyond, here are the best pregnancy books to guide, encourage and support. 

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Mar 23, 2022

Pregnant woman reading book

Being pregnant, getting to grips with your changing body and being bombarded with huge amounts of information, opinions and advice can, at times, feel really overwhelming. Luckily, there's a world of mothers out there who have been there, done that and got the maternity T-shirt.

Pregnancy books can be a useful tool to help you get ready for baby but, as there’s so much choice out there, knowing which one to invest time in can be tricky. To help you choose the best one for you we've taken wisdom from the millions of pregnant women and mums who frequent our forums – from our Pregnancy forum to the popular online birth clubs - and pooled their thoughts on the books that helped them the most during pregnancy, birth and beyond. 

We know nothing beats an honest recommendation from a real person, especially if you’re wanting to buy something for a new stage of your life, so we’ve compiled this thorough research from the forums with analysis of consumer reviews and expert suggestions to bring you a round-up you can trust.

Whether you’re preparing for your first baby, considering hypnobirthing, seeking guidance on eating well during pregnancy or simply looking for a lighthearted read to raise some much needed laughs, we’ve got you covered.

Here are the best pregnancy books to buy in 2022. 

1. Best overall pregnancy book: The Positive Birth Book

The Positive Birth Book

Price: £10.99 | Buy now from Amazon

I have found The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill really good. Covers everything from the obvious labour, but also writing birth plans, packing hospital bags and the first few days after birth.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user TheTravelPhotographer)

This book has got me actually excited and looking forward to the labour and birth!” (Reviewed by Mumsnet user Sweettalkingwoman)

Milli Hill is the founder of The Positive Birth Movement, a global network of antenatal discussion groups that championed positive births for all women. The groups aimed to create spaces for women to consider what they really wanted from their childbirth experience and to challenge any fears or negative expectations they might have.

Hill's warm and humorous tone has made her book a favourite among Mumsnet users as well as earning its place on the Amazon bestseller lists. It's especially helpful for those hoping to have a home birth, but it also has chapters on hospital births and caesareans too.

An updated version of this book is out in May, which covers additional insights on how to plan for a positive birth in difficult times. Given the still somewhat unknown post-pandemic world we find ourselves in, this may provide some extra reassurance and support. You can preorder the updated version here

Pros

  • Helps combat feelings of fear and negativity around childbirth 
  • Provides facts for a calmer, more prepared labour experience

Cons

  • Whilst empowering women to choose what’s right for them, it’s important to remember that labours don’t always go to plan and that interventions are, at times, an important part of childbirth
  • Some reviewers found it was too focused on home births

2. Best pregnancy book for self-care: Nobody Told Me: Poetry & Parenthood

Nobody Told Me: Poetry & Parenthood

Price: £6.01 | Buy now from Amazon

I loved Hollie McNish's 'Nobody Told Me'. It’s a mix of poetry and prose, her thoughts through pregnancy and the early years. Made me cry in the post-pregnancy haze.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Mogtheexcellent)

For a really unique pregnancy book which makes a budget-friendly gift, Nobody Told Me by bestselling poet Hollie McNish is a beautiful read. In this book, Hollie speaks up about the things she didn't know before she got pregnant – from not being able to stomach Mr Whippy to how to stand while holding a baby.

Nobody Told Me is a personal account of being pregnant and raising a child today and, while not a traditional pregnancy guide, it gives a relatable and insightful look at what pregnancy is really like. It also includes this excellent poem on breastfeeding that went viral on YouTube. You're welcome. 

Pros

  • Hollie’s writing style is both entertaining and powerful
  • Easy to read in short bursts

Cons

  • Can be quite moving - pass the tissues! 

3. Best pregnancy book for first-time mums: Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan

Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan

Price: £11.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“I’m reading Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan by Rebecca Schiller. It’s really easy to read and straight-talking. Even my DH picked it up and commented he liked how it presented the information and would read it after me.”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter Bubblesforlife)

I really enjoyed this - I used this to make my own birth preferences list as it lays out all of your ‘choices’ in one section which was really handy.”  (Vetted by Mumsnet user glasspaw)

An empowering and supportive pregnancy book which is ideal for first-time mums, Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan is packed full of practical tools and tips to help you get the birth you want, whilst remaining flexible enough to adapt to whatever your birth experience throws at you. 

From conception through to those first daunting days and weeks at home with your newborn, the informal, friendly writing tone is both relatable and non-judgemental, and is presented in a format that is easy to read and digest. 

This book also includes lots of practical tips and guidance for dads and birthing partners, making it a great option for couples to share.

Pros

  • Informative and non-judgemental writing style 
  • Easy to read format 
  • Practical tips and guidance 

Cons

  • Some reviews felt the guidance on physical postpartum recovery could have been more detailed  

4. Best science-based pregnancy book: The Modern Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Beyond

Modern Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Beyond

Price: £11.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Very factual, evidence-based, none of the patronising stuff a lot of pregnancy books have, and pretty balanced views on things too.”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Lola871)

Straight to the point, factual and science-based. It goes into detail about exactly what is happening in your body and why, without being patronising or dumbing things down for the reader.” (Reviewed by Mumsnet user Turtleturtle81)

If you’re looking for a pregnancy book full of factual advice you can trust, you can’t really go wrong with a book written by an experienced senior midwife and UK based hypnobirthing practitioner. 

Marie Louise has years of labour experience under her belt and a wonderful way of simplifying even the most complicated and overwhelming of pregnancy details into a format that is relatable and easy to understand. 

Her book, Modern Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Beyond, is packed full of up to date facts, information and insights covering everything from conception through to the so-called '4th trimester'. A supportive read to help mums-to-be feel more confident and informed about their journey to motherhood. 

Pros

  • Written by a senior midwife with information you can trust
  • Simplifies the facts without being patronising 

Cons

  • Does suggest some ‘right’ ways to approach pregnancy and labour 

5. Best book about labour and birth: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Price: £12.05 | Buy now from Amazon

For books on birth, I would recommend Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Very hippy, but so empowering. I read it in my second pregnancy after a first birth that was really out of my control, and have read it in pregnancies three and four too. Those births were totally different experiences. I would recommend to anyone.” (Championed by Mumsnet user YouHaveNoAuthorityHereJackie

Ina May Gaskin, America's leading midwife, shares her birthing wisdom in this intuitive guide to childbirth. With a focus on natural birthing, it offers advice and tips to maximise your chances of an unmedicated labour and helps you prepare for your birth experience, whether in a hospital or at home.

This book provides some eye-opening reminders about the power of the human body and mind when it comes to childbirth and the challenges we can overcome.   

Pros

  • An empowering pregnancy book to aid a calm birth experience 
  • Tips to help if you're wanting an unmedicated labour 

Cons

  • A heavy focus on natural birth, some reviewers found it to be a bit ‘hippy’ 
  • If you’re already planning your epidural, this might not be the right choice 

6. Best book on hypnobirthing: Hypnobirthing: Practical ways to make your birth better

Hypnobirthing: Practical ways to make your birth better

Price: £9.69 | Buy now from Amazon

I'm really enjoying reading this hypnobirthing book. It's not about hypnotism! It's about relaxing and working with your body, trusting its ability and having a more positive birth. Really enjoying it. Would recommend!” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user LazyYogi)

Not to be confused with hypnosis, hypnobirthing teaches a variety of relaxation and breathing techniques to help mums-to-be work with their body to make their labour a more calm and comfortable experience. With a focus on educating and changing your mindset, away from fear and negativity and towards enablement and empowerment, hypnobirthing has grown hugely in popularity over recent years. 

It's worth noting, however, that hypnobirthing does not guarantee a natural labour if that's what you want - unfortunately you can’t prepare for every eventuality and medical intervention is sometimes required. That said, using these techniques can help you feel calmer and more prepared if they are needed.

Siobhan Miller is an expert hypnobirthing teacher and founder of The Positive Birth Company. In this book, she aims to make hypnobirthing more accessible for every mum and every kind of birth, whether at home or in the hospital. 

Pros

  • Allows new parents to practice and prepare helpful labour techniques  
  • Helps remove fear and negativity around childbirth which can actually make it harder

Cons

  • There can be a misconception that hypnobirthing can guarantee a natural labour (if that's your preference), but that's not the case

7. Best book on feeding: The Positive Breastfeeding Book

The Positive Breastfeeding Book

Price £11.99 | Buy now from Amazon

I loved The Positive Breastfeeding Book by Amy Brown. She is a leading researcher into infant feeding and firmly places women, informed choice and evidence at the centre of her work.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user OakleyStreetisnotinChelsea

Positive Breastfeeding by Amy Brown is great and very much supports you in your decisions including formula if needed.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Catinthewindow)

Breastfeeding for the first time can be incredibly daunting. Whether you’re worrying about feeding positions, the quality of your baby's latch, engorgement or simply if your baby is getting enough milk, establishing a breastfeeding routine can be really overwhelming, particularly when met with well-meaning but conflicting advice from friends and family. 

Packed with real life stories and guidance, The Positive Breastfeeding Book not only helps new mums to overcome some of the common breastfeeding challenges, but reminds you to look after yourself too. Written in a friendly, non-preachy tone, it also includes helpful guidance for mums wishing to formula or mixed feed their baby and how to transition from breast to bottle at a time that suits you. 

Pros

  • Prepares you for some of the breastfeeding challenges you may encounter and how you can overcome them
  • Non-preachy about formula and mixed feeding 

Cons 

  • Not all breastfeeding challenges are covered in detail so you may require additional information 

8. Best pregnancy book for new dads: The Pregnancy Guide for Men

The Pregnancy Guide for Men

Price: £9.01 | Buy now from Amazon

Written specifically for men, this book is an excellent read for fathers-to-be who want to be more involved in their partner’s pregnancy or a good book to give to your other half to help them understand some of the physical and mental changes you’re experiencing during pregnancy. 

Filled with month-by-month guidance, information on birth plans and advice on preparing to support labour, this book can help dads feel more prepared and less overwhelmed, helping them navigate through some of their own personal fears or anxieties around parenthood. 

Whilst not the most detailed of texts, and covering mostly pregnancy and pre-birth content, this is a lighthearted and informative read suitable for even the most reluctant of readers. 

Pros

  • Helpful for dispelling fears and anxieties dads-to-be might have
  • Can help fathers feel more knowledgeable and involved

Cons

  • Some reviewers found the jovial writing style a little patronising, as it does assume very minimal knowledge about pregnancy 
  • Focus is on pregnancy and birth and not postnatal

9. Best pregnancy nutrition book: Eating for Pregnancy Month by Month Nutrition Guide

Eating for Pregnancy Month by Month Nutrition Guide

Price: £11.25 | Buy now from Amazon

We all know how important it is to eat a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy, but pregnancy cravings, food aversions and nausea can often make this feel like a real challenge. Coupled with ever-changing advice on the foods you should avoid during pregnancy, it can be hard to know where to start when eating for two.

The Eating for Pregnancy Month by Month Nutrition Guide (clue is in the title), contains 150 recipes that are tailored to meet the nutritional needs of both you and your baby at every stage of your pregnancy, including postpartum.

Recently updated to include more vegan and vegetarian options, it also covers helpful advice for eating out, low carb choices and information for pregnant women with gestational diabetes. 

Pros

  • Contains up to date advice on supplements and foods to avoid during pregnancy
  • No fuss, minimal prep dishes for every stage of your pregnancy
  • Seven day menus for easy meal planning 

Cons

  • It’s an American text, so you’ll need to convert ‘cups’ to UK metrics

10. Best book for new mums: Motherhood Your Way: How to Worry Less and Enjoy More in Your Baby's First Year

Motherhood Your Way: How to Worry Less and Enjoy More in Your Baby's First Year

Price: £10.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Navigating through your baby's first year can be full of highs and lows, including challenges such as postpartum recovery and sleep deprivation. At times, it can be hard to trust your instincts, particularly when you are constantly met with others' opinions or recommendations of the ‘best’ way to approach parenthood.

Motherhood Your Way, by renowned birth and parenting coach Hollie de Cruz, covers month-by-month what you can expect during your baby's first year. Helping new mums understand more about your baby's needs and how to meet them, this book also comes with an important reminder about self-care and avoiding comparisons.

Pros

  • Offers month-by-month insights for new mums
  • Helpful to know it’s ‘not just you’ 
  • Highlights importance of looking after yourself as well as your baby 

Cons

  • Covers postpartum advice and support only, so you’ll want a different book when preparing for birth

11. Best pregnancy books for second-time mums: The Second Baby Book

The Second Baby Book

Price: £9.42 | Buy now from Amazon

A rare occurrence on the pregnancy books scene, this book addresses the specific experience of a second pregnancy and birth, and how that might differ from the first time around, including the impact of a previously difficult labour or birth trauma.  

It starts with exploring the right time to add an additional family member and then goes on to give practical advice around introducing a new sibling, as well as how to actually cope as a mum to two children.

Pros

  • Helps second-time mums cope with some of the emotions of bringing a sibling home
  • Serves a helpful reminder that every pregnancy and birth is different 

Cons

  • Most suited to parents with a small age gap (two years or less) between babies 

12. Best humorous pregnancy book: Pregnancy: The Mumsnet Guide

Pregnancy: The Mumsnet Guide

Price £12.69 | Buy now from Amazon

Our list wouldn't be complete without the book that offers advice from those at the frontline of parenting – Mumsnet users themselves. 

This guide is packed with the advice, wit, wisdom and reassurances of the thousands of parents who log onto the site each day, distilled and presented in a way that is both accessible and authoritative.

Whether it's hormones or hypnobirthing, stretch marks or swollen ankles, it's always reassuring to know YANBU when moaning about your pregnancy ailments. 

Pros

  • Packed full of lighthearted pregnancy humour
  • Covers real life experiences and insights from the Mumsnet community 

Cons

  • Covers a lot of ground - you may want something more focused on a specific area of pregnancy or childbirth

What to look for in a pregnancy book

With so many pregnancy books to choose from it can be hard to know where to start. Here’s some things to take into account when making your choice: 

  • Area of focus: Are you looking for one book that covers everything from conception to childbirth, or are you happy to read a book focused on a specific area such as nutrition, breastfeeding or labour? 
  • Format: We’ve linked to the paperback copies in this guide, but you may wish to look for kindle or e-reader options too. Bear in mind that unless you’re reading on a Kindle Fire, illustrations and flow charts don’t always present as well.
  • Expert author?: What is the expertise of the author and can you trust their advice? Look for books written from reliable sources of information, particularly if they are focused on a particular approach to childbirth. We recommend books written by medical or pregnancy experts or coaches. Whilst celebrity parent books can be helpful, ultimately they tend to be based on a personal experience. 
  • Ease of reading: Let’s be honest, pregnancy can be exhausting, so a thick tome of a book probably isn't going to appeal or be read from cover to cover in one sitting. Look for books that have short chapters, easy to read formatting or bitesized chunks of information. These are much easier to dip in and out of as you wish and make some of the more overwhelming information easier to digest. 
  • What are your preferences?: You may already have some opinions and preferences about the pregnancy and birth experience you want, and this may dictate the kind of book that's right for you. If you have your heart set on a natural labour, a hypnobirthing book may be the obvious choice, whereas if you already know you're going to bottle feed, the breastfeeding specialism options may be ones to avoid. 
  • How serious do you want to be?: How much information is too much information? Would you rather know all the facts and go in prepared, or is highlighting risks and complications likely to heighten your anxiety? Choose the right level of detail for you. It’s important to remember that childbirth by its very nature is unpredictable.

What is the best book on pregnancy?

There are some great options on this list, but if you’re looking for a great all-rounder that covers your entire pregnancy from conception to birth, The Positive Birth Book is a great choice. 

Helping remove fears and anxiety and empowering mums-to-be to shape their birth experience, this book offers some much-needed reassurance and support, helping prepare women for almost every eventuality.

What is a good book for first-time mothers?

If you’re preparing to become first-time mum and feeling intimidated with the mass of information regarding pregnancy and childbirth, Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan is a good place to start. 

Packed full of helpful tips and advice to get you started, this book offers easy to read, bitesize chunks of information that can inform and reassure without overwhelming. It also offers prompts to help you consider your choices during childbirth, allowing you to feel more empowered and informed when the big moment arrives. 

What books should I read when trying to conceive?

If you’re considering starting a family or taking steps towards conceiving, you may prefer a book that is focused on fertility and conception rather than pregnancy. 

Some popular choices that have been tried, tested and recommended by Mumsnet members include Taking Charge of your Fertility and The Impatient Women’s Guide to Getting Pregnant, both of which focus on the steps you can take to prepare your body for pregnancy, monitoring your ovulation cycle and maximising your chances of getting pregnant.

How we chose our recommendations 

There are a huge number of pregnancy books to choose from, some covering the entire pregnancy journey and others more specialist or niche in focus.

In order to make sure we were confident with our recommendations, we thoroughly investigated expert online reviews and tried and tested experiences on retailer sites such as Amazon and Waterstones, as well as our Mumsnetters' own recommendations on the books they read and enjoyed during pregnancy. We also looked out for books that were no longer relevant, contentious or potentially outdated to ensure our choices reflected the latest medical advice. 

We researched the pros and cons of each pregnancy book, including its format, the complexity of the information and the reputations of the authors. Finally we looked at which pregnancy books worked best for each scenario to bring you our final list of recommendations. 

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.