Whether we're looking for sources for stylish maternity clothes or trying to figure out which foods to avoid when pregnant, we often turn to expecting moms when it comes to navigating pregnancy and the early stages of motherhood. After all, who better to provide insight into everything from shopping, for bump-friendly outfits, to filling a grocery cart with nutrient-rich foods than women who are experiencing it all firsthand?
To gain some much-needed advice for stocking our shelves with insightful reads, we asked nine expecting moms to weigh in on the best pregnancy books of all time. From tried-and-true classics to more modern takes on parenting, these are the must-read books moms-to-be swear by.
Nurture by Erica Chidi Cohen
The talented woman behind the Valleybrink Road, a Los Angeles–based floral design and luxury gifting company, Barrett Prendergast knows a thing or two about being a mom with two young children of her own. This book is one of her favorites.
"I love Erica's thoughtful and flexible approach to pregnancy and motherhood. It is not just one way or the highway, which I really appreciate. She makes you feel confident about your journey and the choices you are making," says Prendergast.
The Wonder Weeks by Frans X. Plooij
"This book was everything when I had my son, Costa. Something would be going on or he would be fussing for no reason, and I would turn to the book," recommends Prendergast. "Inevitably, it would reassure me that it was totally normal and that he was going through a natural phase of development. It really offers so much relief for first-time moms." The book will help you understand the reason behind crying, eating, and sleeping problems, along with much more.
The First Forty Days by Heng Ou
You may be thinking solely about your newborn, but don't forget about your self-care. "I feel like nourishing the mom back to health after the delivery is often an afterthought," Prendergast says. "But really, it is so important. This book offers recipes and tips for moms to replenish and recharge during those first few weeks after delivery."
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
"I actually have gone quite natural and hippy in my readings," confessed first-time mom Morgan Bogle, the founder of Freedom of Animals, a company dedicated to producing beautifully simple vegan handbags, when we asked her to weigh in on the best pregnancy books of all time. "This book is a classic and is a very positive read. For me, aiming to have a natural childbirth is important, and this book is full of positive and loving stories of so many women who were able to comfortably deliver in the most natural way they could. Reading it helps ease fears and anxiety around giving birth, and reminds me that being pregnant is a natural and normal thing to go through," says Bogle.
Hypnobirthing Home Study Course Manual by Kathryn Clark
This manual, which helps you master the techniques for a natural birth, is another one of Bogle's favorites. "This website and audio download are a really nice addition to my day-to-day, with calming meditations and a really lovely woman walking you through normal thoughts, feelings, and anxieties. I think the goal is to help you meditate and breathe through contractions and birth and keep you calm leading up to the big day! I put it on in the morning and at night and I almost instantly feel relaxed," explains Bogle.
A natural birth typically means a vaginal birth without pain medication, though it's increasingly being used to describe any sort of vaginal birth.
The Mama Natural by Genevieve Howland
"Not only did I read the paperback version, but I downloaded the audiobook as well and listened week by week to the encouraging, evidence-based, and relevant material, which I easily applied to my life—things like drinking red raspberry leaf tea (a natural uterine tonic) after the first trimester, and eating six dates a day leading up to my due date to help ease and shorten labor," Bihl says. "I learned questions to ask my doctor and became confident with my decision to have an out-of-hospital birth at a freestanding birth center attended by certified nurse-midwives! I recommend this book to any newly pregnant mama, whether or not she leans on the crunchy or more traditional side."
What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
We must admit that we've been longtime admirers of style blogger Jenny O'Brien, so when we found out she was expecting her second child, we just knew we had to pick her brain for pregnancy book recommendations.
"What to Expect When You're Expecting is a must read," O'Brien says. "Pregnancy can be intimidating with your body changing so rapidly, but this book breaks down pretty much everything you need to know about what's to come. It definitely gave me peace of mind."
Great with Child by Beth Ann Fennelly
Chicago-based interior designer Claire Staszak is known for her holistic approach to home design, so we couldn't wait to find out which books she turned to as an expecting mom-to-be.
"Great With Child is a unique collection of letters between a new mom and her friend who is pregnant for the first time," Staszak explains. "Very poetic and real, it offers insight into the daily life of motherhood, while also elevating the beauty and wonder of raising a small child."
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
"The Birth Partner is an excellent read for both you and your support person, partner, etc." Staszak recommends. "Complete with illustrations, charts, and lots of helpful information, this book will help you prepare for labor and learn more about the anatomy of your body."
Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman
Another one of Staszak's favorites, this one is a fun read that takes you out of reality, just a little bit. "Bringing Up Bebe is a cheeky read about the wisdom of French parenting and one American writer's experience mothering abroad in France," Staszak says. "I found it very insightful and thought-provoking."
Cherish the First Six Weeks by Helen Moon
"My favorite pregnancy book is Cherish the First 6 Weeks by Helen Moon," Harmeyer says. "This book is perfect for a new parent like myself. It takes you through the first six weeks and recommends things to help get your baby on a sleeping and feeding schedule right off the bat. It talks you through basic baby needs, which makes you feel more confident after reading. A must-read if you're feeling a little overwhelmed on what to do once your baby is home with you."
Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy
Houston-based lifestyle blogger Shay Sweeney recommends one laugh-out-loud book to get any expecting mama through pregnancy.
"My favorite pregnancy book by far is Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy," Sweeney says. "It is an older book, but it definitely still applies to what women go through throughout pregnancy. The book puts a comical twist on everything that we go through during pregnancy and made me have a little sigh of relief that I am not the only person who has morning sickness, feels tired, and has random painful moments. The book even talks about sex, which can be the most uncomfortable topic of them all during pregnancy. The book makes you feel as if you are reading something from your best friend and makes every pregnancy topic feel okay."