The Healthy Pregnancy Book, by William and Martha Sears, is a fabulous book. It is a revision of The Pregnancy Book, published in 1997 and is very comprehensive. It includes discussions of nutrition, exercise, stress management, rest, positive emotions, and birth planning.
There is a good deal of cutting-edge research and information on how womb-life impacts lifelong health and how lifestyle factors during pregnancy can boost health for women and infants. Many pregnancy books either leave this information out or over sensationalize it. The defense for leaving it out is that studies that show an impact of stress or malnutrition on developing babies are often those that look at dire circumstances such as abuse, violence, or famine. To apply their findings to healthy women is a far-fetched exaggeration of the scientific insight and may cause unnecessary overwhelm or guilt. If you read something that claims that if mom has an emotional day the baby may be more prone to stress-induced diseases for the rest of their life, you are indeed reading an opinion that is taking far too many liberties in their scientific interpretation.
In my opinion, The Healthy Pregnancy Book strikes a nice balance with this information. It shares interesting science in an accessible way and applies a common sense approach to how to have a healthy pregnancy. Personally, I enjoyed knowing that I could make a difference for my baby by taking care of myself. I also believe that society should take better care of pregnant women, and being a little more forthcoming about the impacts of early life might help us as a culture value and support mothers and infant caregivers more appropriately. I am glad the science is included, and think you will find it fascinating.
While labor and birthing are not a main focus of the book, there is actually a good deal of effective information included on birth. The Healthy Pregnancy Book could be considered a comprehensive pregnancy and birth guidebook. I highly recommend it.
A personal caveat: The style or tone of the book attempts to be comforting and simple, but I will admit that I find it completely annoying. Something about the conversational tone makes me feel like someone older, and presumably wiser, is patting me on the shoulder with a, “There, there, aren’t you cute,” type of sentiment. This rubs my feminist sensibilities the wrong way. I find pregnant women to be smart and inspirational. That being said, there is nothing in The Healthy Pregnancy Book that directly belittles women. Rather, it is practical and accurate. If you peek between the covers and, like me, are turned off by how the style makes you feel, I suggest you keep reading anyhow. This is a pregnancy guide book with good information that will benefit you and your baby.
The Healthy Pregnancy Book’s Authors, William Sears & Martha Sears, and contributors Linda Holt & BJ Snell
William Sears, MD, is an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine and a fellow of both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Royal College of Pediatricians (RCP). He is a medical and parenting consultant for BabyTalk and Parenting magazines has an active business selling health products and classes at askdrsears.com. Martha Sears, RN, is a parenting and health consultant. Together, they are authors of over 30 books on childcare and have eight children.
Linda Holt, MD is an obstetrician, Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and mother.
BJ Snell, PhD, CNW, is an experienced certified nurse midwife and mother of two.