There are two pregnancy-related books I have owned since 2008. They were ordered around the exact period that we started actively TTC* in the mistaken belief, it turns out, that we’d be needing them “soon”. One was a pregnancy journal that I found online (The Belly Book) and the other was Your Pregnancy Bible, with consulting editor Dr Anne Deans. If you are like me and you painstakingly research every online purchase you make in advance, paying particular attention to customer ratings and reviews, then you may have already come across this book. If you haven’t you may well wonder just what is so great about it. In a nutshell, it’s a one-stop pregnancy guide. It can be fun to buy pregnancy magazines (I know, I’ve bought them myself), however this book contains everything you’ll read in any of their articles (except perhaps the “trend-related” articles which, let’s face it, are hardly crucial even if they can be entertaining) and then some… all in one convenient source. Food hazards, suggested birth plans for a variety of scenarios, the safety of the uterus, special pregnancies, complementary therapies, weight gain, etc… it’s all covered here. For what you pay (a very reasonable amount, in my opinion), you get a whole lot of information for your dollar!
Your Pregnancy Bible will take you, in a straightforward and concise manner, from preconception and conception right through to bath time with your newborn. The graphs and charts throughout are easy to digest, the language is to-the-point, factual and non-threatening. You can take a class to learn about some of these things, or you can buy this book and enjoy educating and informing yourself as you go (a DIY approach I personally enjoy, hence this blog I suppose!). I found the section “Your Baby Week by Week” particularly exciting/interesting to follow along with as my pregnancy progressed. For questions and concerns that arose that were not addressed in this book (or only partly), I had my midwife/doctors and fellow pregnant mamas to refer to (largely via my support network on BabyCenter). There may be some information that is irrelevant to you, especially if you don’t live in the UK, however this will prove to be a tiny amount of the sum total of the book’s contents. There are books on the market that don’t contain the variety and depth of information as this one. There are books that attempt to put a comedic spin on the pregnancy experience, and though I am sure they make for enjoyable, lighthearted reading, I personally wanted pregnancy information that was presented with a gentle tone in a factual, logical, concise and comprehensive manner; no personal opinion/judgement thrown in… and no “fluff”. Your Pregnancy Bible receives consistently high ratings and positive reviews for a very good reason.
BabyCenter, as mentioned earlier, has been a vehicle for support and information that I cannot imagine getting through the rocky days of TTC and various pregnancy/birth/motherhood-related issues without. I have been an active member since 2009. BabyCenter has locally based sites that you can join and obviously the information on the Swedish site, for example, is written in Swedish and contains information relevant specifically to Sweden. I am a member of the US BabyCenter site and currently also subscribe to receive an email newsletter/update called “Your Toddler ,Week by Week” which highlights developmental stages, common issues, concerns, milestones, etc. relevant to my baby’s exact age. There is a wealth of information to be found on BabyCenter in the form of blogs, articles written by professionals and, of course, the forums where you can ask for/give/receive support on anything and everything.
A gentle word of caution for pregnant ladies thinking of joining up (it’s free and easy, by the way!): the Birth Clubs, which are organised according to baby’s “due month”, although being very busy and crammed with posts, are not always the best places to reach out for support on sensitive issues. There tends to be an element of unnecessary drama (check one out as a “fly on the wall” and in time you’ll probably see what I mean). For example, there are people who will deliberately post a view (perhaps not even their own real view) about circumcision or some other “controversial” topic and wait for the angry responses of people with opposing views to come flooding in so that they can “fight back”. There is, in amongst some genuinely supportive and interesting threads, a smattering of contrived nonsense and drama that I can personally live without. Just ignore it and “take what you need”, as they say. Having said that, one acquaintance of mine on BabyCenter received an absolute outpouring of incredibly generous and thoughtful support from her Birth Club board when she went into labour at 24 weeks. The whole board seemed to rally around her, she had strangers praying for her and she even received gifts from well-wishers for her little fighter (to this day her baby is doing well, by the way!).
Personally, I think I am blessed to have found both private groups and “specialised” groups. There are an abundance of groups to choose from; everything from groups that cater to women of certain ideological/religious beliefs to those for women with PCOS, through to groups for mothers who like to read/craft/work out and those supporting women who are TTC naturally or pregnant via fertility treatments such as IUI and IVF (there are lots of TTC and pregnancy groups). If you join a group that is relevant to your own personal preferences/situation (whether your circumstances are happy or challenging), no doubt you will come across some like-minded individuals and receive some good support if you reach out for it. I know I did. Of course no one wants to join the “TTC after loss” board or a high risk pregnancy group, but honestly when you are forced to deal with the BIG stuff, you don’t tend to sweat the small stuff, and these groups are incredible sources of kind, generous support and empathy. The SCH* support board, for example, is 100% free of petty drama, as every woman there has no doubt had to face the real-life drama of the possibility of losing her baby as a result of complications.
My advice to ladies considering joining BabyCenter is simply to post and comment on threads with discretion, don’t get sucked into someone else’s fabricated drama and, if you happen to come across a good, stable and supportive group of women, consider branching off to form a private group. I have happily and gratefully been in contact with the same fabulous women for approaching 3 years now… on an almost-daily basis. I don’t know how I would have coped emotionally without the support I have received during some of the things I have gone through. As important as medical information contained within the pages of a good pregnancy book can be, it is of little comfort during times of worry or distress… and it can’t share your joys or triumphs with you either. BabyCenter is a great resource because it provides a vehicle for meeting so many needs, both informative and emotional. And it’s free!
*TTC = Trying to conceive
*SCH = Subchorionic hematoma (see this post for my story)