The Pregnancy Books We Read + Liked

Hello loves! When I found out I was pregnant, I felt so lost. Being an American trying to learn how to navigate a new-to-me healthcare system felt so overwhelming while also experiencing so many new-to-me symptoms. I craved sleep and I craved knowledge, ha! One of the first things I did was order a book to hopefully help me wrap my mind around what my body was going through to help me feel secure after learning it may be awhile before I met with someone here in the UK in person. Books became my comfort, provided confidence and offered completely new perspectives on pregnancy than I had been privy to in my American healthcare background. Today’s post has been planned for quite some time – as you can see from these photos, ha! I just knew I wanted to share the ones that really stood out to me and that he gravitated toward. These books have made me so much less scared of the birth process and I can’t wait to share them with you! Let’s dive in!

Books I Loved

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

I’m sure this book makes every must-read list for women who are pregnant. As a nurse, I loved the detail of this book. It helps paint a picture of what’s going on with the baby and with your body as its knitting him or her together each week. I’d consider this the pregnancy bible as it’s so popular and includes so much information about a wide variety of topics. It dives in with you and answers all of your questions from day one. From when is too early to take a pregnancy test to ways to eat for two during your first trimester queasiness. It breaks down any question a mother would have pertaining to her body, her old life (hello, spin class – I’m back) to her baby’s time in the womb. Even if you don’t read this one from start to finish [I read a lot of the first trimester part and then started to use it when needed throughout the rest of pregnancy], it is a great book to put on your nightstand when you are having those late night jitters and there are a million questions swirling around upstairs. Pull this book out, and I am almost positive it will not only answer but ease so many of your worries & questions!

Expecting Better

This was a gift from a friend, and it might have been one of my favorite reads. You are told to do and NOT to do so many things during pregnancy and I appreciated that this book sought out to not tell women what to do but rather INFORM women on what research says surrounding the guidance that is provided by healthcare professionals during pregnancy. So, it explains what research says about eating sushi and drinking coffee or wine and, therefore, allows you to feel empowered and informed when making decisions about what’s best for you and baby while pregnant. I am all for making the right decisions for me and baby based on the research I have done. I have so many friends who refused themselves so many cravings because their doctors advised them not to. When in reality most anything we consume (in moderation of course) while pregnant is ok. So did I drink a glass of wine once or twice, I sure did. Did I let myself enjoy sushi take-out from the local sushi place up the street, absolutely! And I am SO GLAD I did. I can look back on my pregnancy and know that I afforded myself these little things with a wealth of knowledge and guidance because of this book. And you know what?! baby boy and I are doing just fine! So for any of my girls out there who have that friend who worries about all.the.things gift this book to them the minute they tell you they’re pregnant. She (and her hubby) will thank you, I promise!

I need to get a move on ordering her follow-up book called Cribsheet, which helps debunk myth after myth of those early days in parenting. She covers hot topics like breastfeeding, sleep training, potty training, and language acquisition. It even goes into toddler discipline and how to enjoy a relationship with your littles and be a parent at the same time. And the best part, it is all facts based. It is jam packed with research, studies and countless data. I am so looking forward to reading this with John. I think we will find what our parenting style will be after this read.

The Positive Birth Book

Birth is such a scary concept to so many because of the media’s portrayal of birth and the unwarranted horror stories that people so willingly share with soon-to-be momma’s! This book aims to fight the negative stigma of birth through education and empowerment. Those are the two things women need the most when entering into their birth experience. Being informed is one of the most crucial things that can help alleviate fear and uncertainty, and it can also make you feel equipped to make the tough decisions if they should arise. ‘The Positive Birth Book’ aims to assure women that no matter what situation they are thrown during pregnancy, labor & postpartum that they are fully educated and aware of not only their rights but their baby’s rights as well. The biggest tool in remaining calm is educating ourselves so that no matter what is thrown your way, you make a decision you are comfortable and confident in. Advocating for ourselves during the birthing process is so important & I am so glad more and more women are speaking up about this topic! One of the main reasons I want to give birth naturally is because of this book. I never really thought of myself to be one of those women who advocate for the Au natural but Milli’s words just resonated with me and gave me the boost of confidence I felt I needed to attempt the labor and delivery that my body was made for. I obviously know things can change, and the most important piece of advice is to keep an open mind. So we will be taking things slow, listening to my body & letting baby boy lead the way. No matter what your birth plan looks like though, whether it is at home, in a birthing center, in a hospital or elective cesarean this book teaches you how mindset is everything and a positive outlook is key for having the best experience for you & your bundle of joy!

Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth 

So, this book might not be one I get to before baby boy is born, but it comes highly recommended to me and is currently on my nightstand waiting to be cracked open. If you are tempted to have an unmedicated birth, this would be a good place to gather knowledge on the birth process and how our bodies are made to do this thing called childbirth. I have found it to be incredibly insightful to understand the difference between what our bodies need to produce the necessary hormones for birth and how most current birth environments are set up and how they actually work against each other. It begs the question if maybe we are getting in our own way of having positive birth experiences in some ways. I’m no expert in this line of expertise, so I’ve challenged myself to learn from people, like Ina May, who are. She is one of the most well-known midwives of our time helping to lead the positive birth movement. More than that, though, her book is based on scientific-research, which, for me, is incredibly important. It navigates the strongest influence during labor, which is the mind-body connection. She digs into massage/touch techniques and their miraculous role in reducing labor pains. She touches on natural ways to induce labor and what things to avoid at all costs. One of the biggest highlights for myself is ways to avoid postpartum bleeding and depression. I have heard horror stories from friends surrounding this topic alone, so if I can avoid even a fraction of what they went through, then this book will be well worth the read for me. For anyone who is intrigued by giving birth naturally, this is a book I would highly encourage.

The Homebirth Handbook

This is another book I am still in the midst of and kind of put on the back burner because I knew a home birth wasn’t something that we could make happen this time around, even if I wanted to. Before we move forward with this topic, I think it’s important to note that I am aware that home births aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Here in the UK, women whose pregnancies are low-risk are advised that giving birth at home is as safe and that the rate of interventions for them will be lower than in a hospital setting. The US does not take the same stance [article here] and I can understand why. Becoming a midwife is much easier in the US, which can lead women to hire midwives who don’t have the amount of education and training that is necessary to lead her antenatal care, assess whether she’s a good candidate for a home birth, and / or have the critical thinking skills and experience to know what to do if there are concerns in the midst of the home birth. So, I can completely understand why and how you could have heard horror stories about home births. [For reference, you always want to hire a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) if you are interested in hiring a midwife for yourself. They have the most education and the most experience on whether you are a good candidate for a home birth before one even begins. If a home birth makes you nervous, they may suggest a birthing center in your area instead of a hospital]. Also, I realize not everyone is a candidate for a home birth due to preexisting medical conditions, medical conditions that arise with mother or baby during pregnancy, or complications with previous births. So, before I get a lot of comments about home births, just know …. I know it’s not for everyone but it is a positive experience for others and there’s no shame in doing your research to make an informed decision.

This book was part of my research phase and it was such an easy read. I still have a few chapters left but put it aside to read the Positive Birth Book. I knew I wouldn’t have a home birth for this first baby so I will definitely finish it later but it did provide a lot of insight into why people opt for home births, the positive outcomes that are often [notice how I didn’t say always] associated with them, and how you would go about having one so you feel completely confident and prepared. It was written by a woman in the UK so obviously do some research if you’re in the U.S. because it might be a little different. I have a friend in the U.S. that has had four home births and no problems with any of them so it is possible. I think it’s a matter of whether you’re a good candidate, your baby hasn’t had any problems throughout the pregnancy, and you have the right team around you. Obviously, I know it makes people feel so much more safe to be close to a hospital, as well, which makes complete sense!

The Modern Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond

Truth be told, I did not read this entire book but, in the beginning, I found so much comfort in it. It helped me understand how midwives view birth and, somewhat, what to expect when it comes to the healthcare I’d be receiving from the NHS here in the UK. The pandemic has caused the healthcare system here to cut back on services they provide expectant mothers, which was really hard for me as a first-time mom. This book really served as the educator I was hoping to find the healthcare system and offered me a lot of comfort in what my body was doing. It helped me accept that it was okay to not be seen as early as I had wanted to and that, with my first trimester symptoms happening in full force, everything was likely going just fine with me and baby. It was very reassuring and if you’re considering midwife care, it might be a great place for you to start. It opened my mind up to a whole new way of viewing pregnancy and women’s care durng pregnancy.

Books John Loved

Fatherhood: The Truth

John only read one book, but I must say the amount of excitement to which he read this one was enough for me to be convinced he is ready .. ha! It is not about quantity but more about quality … right, people?! John’s brother-in-law recommended this one to him and, every night that his nose was in it, he’d be laughing about something. I’m not sure how the US version reads … or if you’ll get the UK version … but the author is quite funny and plays on a lot of British humor. This book makes it easy to digest, and John found it helpful overall. From what he has told me, it covers tons of important topics. Ones from how your baby grows month-to-month, to how to be the doting, expectant father you always dreamt of being. It is a book just for the guys packed with hilarious advice ensuring no man will feel less alone after reading this one!

Also, I purchased THIS book for him after my friend, Liz, recommended it to me. She had a baby last July, and she said her husband has found it to be SO helpful in navigating fatherhood. There’s a pregnancy one, as well, if you want to check that one out!

Well, whether you are running to your local bookstore to grab these specific books or saving this post for when you are expecting, I hope you found this helpful and that no matter what you are reading right now to prepare yourself for this remarkable adventure; you remind yourself you are doing great & you got this! Can you tell the theme of the books I wanted to read was all about positivity? There’s soooo much negativity surrounding birth and I wanted to be encouraged so I hope that this post encouraged you to know where to find some positive books to fill your cup and make you believe that you got this!! Be sure to leave any must-read’s in the comments below for me, so I can check them out myself! xo.


Editor's Notes



  1. Judi wrote:

    Have you watched the British Netflix series “Call The Midwife”
    We have found it very interesting. It’s rather long but done well.
    You might wait until after baby is born.
    Wishing you the best!

    Published 2.17.21 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hi Judi! Yes, I watched it a few years ago. I fell in love with it. The characters are so endearing and, of course, love that it’s set in London. xx

      Published 2.17.21 ·