Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The What To Expect When You're Expecting family


The book

The first book we bought when the little purple line appeared on our pregnancy test was What To Expect When You're Expecting, 4th edition. It was a familiar title and one that has been tried, trusted and well used by expectant mothers for 25 years.

For me, it's more than a book; it's an A to Z of the journey from bump to baby but the way it's written makes it feel like you've got a friend who has been there, done that, guiding you along the way. It tells you everything you need to know, using the proper medical terms and the actual meanings of these in easy to digest chunks, all mixed with funny and honest anecdotes and helpful suggestions.

What To Expect When You're Expecting is split into seven parts and 23 chapters, making it incredibly comprehensive. Holding your hand from day one, this book starts by covering conception and the questions you may have about trying for a baby, what signs to look for that you might be pregnant and what happens next once you receive the good news.

Part one also deals with your medical history and how this may shape your 'pregnancy profile' and details all the different tests you might have along the way, which I found very useful in helping me prepare for what was ahead. It also discussed changes you can expect in your lifestyle and how to eat well and the best thing about the book is it doesn't dictate or scaremonger - it simply tells you what may happen and suggests the best course of action to stay healthy and do everything you can to make sure your baby grows nice and healthy too.

Part two details each month of your pregnancy in detail with a chapter devoted to each stage. Again, the 'what you may be wondering about' section is great as a quick reference for the main things that may happen that you need to know more about. Until it happens to you, you don't know what to expect so I found it useful to read a little ahead to see what would be coming up in the following month. Tabs are also a good idea if you're a control freak like me, so you can index the key areas you're most concerned about or you want to refer back to again. The books is really dense so this was useful if I wanted to quickly check something I had previously read.

Part three is for those mums expecting more than one baby. Part four deals with after baby is born and is invaluable - you MUST read this! No one really talks to you about YOU after baby is born and it can hit you like a ton of bricks like it did me. I wasn't prepared for how I would feel and the sleep deprivation, night sweats, hallucinations, sore stitches, constipation and oh, the matter of having a new born baby all of a sudden to care for was a lot to deal with and those first two weeks were tricky. But, armed with the right information and some very good painkillers, I got through it so my advice is to read up so you don't feel completely lost, confused and worried about everything you may go through postpartum.

Part five is for dads and a very welcome addition. I've said in the past that not enough information or support seems to be out there for new dads so the fact there's a chapter in this book just for them wins big brownie points from me. Although it's short, it does cover the key points of getting involved throughout pregnancy, bonding when baby comes and supporting your partner.

Part six focuses on how to stay healthy and part seven tackles complicated pregnancies, rather than just looking at all the wonderful things that may happen, which I think is really important. Every pregnancy is different and nothing ever goes to plan, so having a book that doesn't deal with things in a text book way is fantastic.

Knowledge is power and I found the more I knew about each stage of pregnancy, the easier it was to deal with and the more relaxed I felt, so I could just enjoy the journey. Having What To Expect When Your Expecting to hand really helped and I would recommend this as an essential read for anyone who is trying for / having a baby. In my experience, midwives do an amazing job but care levels can be very different from area to area and if I hadn't done my own reading and research, I really would not have learnt very much from my appointments. You don't know what questions to ask half the time as you've never been through things before so you don't know what to expect so this book helps prepare you so you know what to ask and when, making the whole nine months a much more calm and enjoyable time overall.

What books or resources did / are you using during your pregnancy?

The website

I've previously reviewed the new UK What To Expect When You're Expecting website, another great resource for mums-to-be, and you can read my post on it here.

The fitness DVD

I was sent the What To Expect When You're Expecting The Workout DVD after I had had Ethan so can't review it in terms of how beneficial it was to me during pregnancy but I can say this seems to be a great way to keep active during those slightly cumbersome nine months.

It features six workouts including cardio, strength and stretching / relaxing moves to help you keep fit, boost your mood and help your body prepare for bringing your baby into the world. I think the fact its from the same family as the book gives you peace of mind and sets the tone of what you can expect. Six 10-minute routines in total making it easy to find time to fit in a bit of fitness, that's if bump hasn't completely zapped all your energy!

I'll certainly use this next time around and it's had some good reviews from other mums which is always important when buying something like this.

The film

And from the real to the extreme, if you want a chuckle whilst you're waiting for baby to make an entrance into the world, or if you want to reminisce about your bumpy days, the film inspired by the book, What To Expect When You're Expecting, is certainly worth a watch. If you ignore the fact that it pretty much depicts pregnancy and labour in much the same way as every other Hollywood film has done before and since - where the woman goes through bizarre cravings and mood swings for comedy effect, jokes are made about life never being the same again and labour begins in dramatic fashion with a sudden gush of the waters breaking and the baby popping out a couple of pushes later - it is a fun and enjoyable film.

* I was sent a signed copy of the book, workout DVD and film on DVD for free to review by the team at What To Expect When You're Expecting. However, I genuinely used the book when I was pregnant and all opinions in this post are my own.

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