The best books for expecting moms who want the truth

Who am I?

There is a dearth of books that span the emotional journey into motherhood. An old adage directs authors to write the book they would like to read, so I kept that in mind as I began the journey myself. Throughout my pregnancy and postpartum experience, I was often surprised by perfectly ordinary occurrences that aren’t often discussed. There is a hush cast on anything that isn’t purely nurturing and romantic, which means that mothers who encounter unpleasantness are blindsided, and consider themselves aberrations. I wrote my book as honestly as possible to normalize the normal and to offer myself as a compatriot to those mothers. 

I wrote...

My Body Is a Big Fat Temple: An Ordinary Story of Pregnancy and Early Motherhood

By Alena Dillon,

Book cover of My Body Is a Big Fat Temple: An Ordinary Story of Pregnancy and Early Motherhood

What is my book about?

My Body Is A Big Fat Temple, a memoir of pregnancy and early motherhood, follows a writer as she debates having children, miscarries, faces morning sickness, uncertainty, physical impairments, labor, breastfeeding, the “baby blues,” the heartache of not loving her son as she thinks she should, parenting through a plague, until finally (basically, mostly) blossoming into her new identity.

The undertaking of creating life is airbrushed to preserve the ideal of motherhood and exacerbated by a culture that dictates what women can do and how they should feel. We don’t get the full story, so mothers with unromantic experiences feel like aberrations, and worse, alone. This is why the voices of women matter. The voices of mothers matter. Here’s one to remind you of the important things.

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The books I picked & why

Expecting Better

By Emily Oster,

Book cover of Expecting Better

Why did I love this book?

This has become a classic pregnancy book, and for good reason. Oster is an economist who reevaluates often faulty maternal health studies and presents her conclusions in an accessible and sometimes light-hearted style. This is the book for expecting moms who want to know the why of restrictions and recommendations, as well as their importance, in order to make the best decisions for themselves and their babies.

By Emily Oster,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Expecting Better as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Emily Oster is the non-judgmental girlfriend holding our hand and guiding us through pregnancy and motherhood. She has done the work to get us the hard facts in a soft, understandable way." -Amy Schumer

*Fully Revised and Updated for 2021*

What to Expect When You're Expecting meets Freakonomics: an award-winning economist disproves standard recommendations about pregnancy to empower women while they're expecting. From the author of Cribsheet and The Family Firm, a data-driven decision making guide to the early years of parenting

Pregnancy-unquestionably one of the most pro found, meaningful experiences of adulthood-can reduce otherwise intelligent women to, well, babies.…

Book cover of Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy

Why did I love this book?

This book delves into the science of pregnancy, but through a feminist lens. Through extensive research, Garbes details just how the female body creates life, a sometimes grisly and often wonderous process, as well as pans across our culture, with all its pitfalls, to explain just why women deserve better support through medical care and social nets.

By Angela Garbes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Like a Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A candid, feminist, and personal deep dive into the science and culture of pregnancy and motherhood

Like most first-time mothers, Angela Garbes was filled with questions when she became pregnant. What exactly is a placenta and how does it function? How does a body go into labor? Why is breast best? Is wine totally off-limits? But as she soon discovered, it’s not easy to find satisfying answers. Your obstetrician will cautiously quote statistics; online sources will scare you with conflicting and often inaccurate data; and even the most trusted books will offer information with a heavy dose of judgment. To…

Book cover of Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness

Why did I love this book?

This memoir of postpartum psychosis is not for the faint of heart, but is an absolutely necessary addition to the motherhood literary canon. In beautiful prose, it charts the author’s increasing mental instability following the birth of her son. These are the types of stories that should be shared more frequently to reduce the stigma of perinatal mood disorders. 

By Catherine Cho,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inferno as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

______________________ 'A beautifully written account of postpartum psychosis, and the ties, blessings and burdens of family' - NIGELLA LAWSON SHORTLISTED FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES YOUNG WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD SHORTLISTED FOR THE JHALAK PRIZE *Observer Book of the Week* *A Guardian Memoir of the Year 2020* *Harper's Bazaar 10 Women Who Will Shape What You Watch, See and Read in 2020* ______________________ 'Striking and original' - Cathy Rentzenbrink, The Times 'Completely devastating. Completely heartbreaking' - Daisy Johnson ______________________ Catherine Cho's son was three months old when she and her husband left home to introduce him to their families. Catherine…

Book cover of Knocked Down: A High-Risk Memoir

Why did I love this book?

This new memoir (out 2022) is about a New Yorker who marries, buys a decaying farmhouse, and shortly thereafter is diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy, committing her to five months of bed rest. While horizontal, she confronts grief over the death of her father and struggles to hold her marriage together. Though this story is narrated in a humorous voice, Weintraub deals with tough issues, including the merits of prenatal restrictions, demanding we take better care when handling maternal mental health. 

By Aileen Weintraub,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Knocked Down as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A laugh-out-loud memoir about a free-spirited, commitment-phobic Brooklyn girl who, after a whirlwind romance, finds herself living in a rickety farmhouse, pregnant, and faced with five months of doctor-prescribed bed rest because of unusually large fibroids.

Aileen Weintraub has been running away from commitment her entire life, hopping from one job and one relationship to the next. When her father suddenly dies, she flees her Jewish Brooklyn community for the wilds of the country, where she unexpectedly falls in love with a man who knows a lot about produce, tractors, and how to take a person down in one jiu-jitsu…

Book cover of Strong as a Mother: How to Stay Healthy, Happy, and (Most Importantly) Sane from Pregnancy to Parenthood

Why did I love this book?

This pregnancy and postpartum guide is compassionate, inclusive, and practical. It’s broken down by stages of the journey, inviting the reader to bounce around to the chapters of pertinence, and covers Rope’s personal experience, contributions from experts, as well as anecdotes from other mothers. Apart from providing critical information, the author’s goal here is to make the reader feel more confident and comfortable with her motherhood experience and to normalize the perfectly healthy responses that are often stigmatized.  

By Kate Rope,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strong as a Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Strong as a Mother is a practical and compassionate guide to preparing for a smooth start to motherhood. Everyone knows the secret to having "the Happiest Baby on the Block." This is your guide to being the Sanest Mommy on the Block. It will prepare you with humour and grace for what lies ahead, give you the tools you need to take care of yourself, permission to struggle at times, and professional advice on how to move through it when you do. This book will become a dog-eared resource on your nightstand, offering you the same care and support that…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in pregnancy, health, and psychosis?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about pregnancy, health, and psychosis.

Pregnancy Explore 88 books about pregnancy
Health Explore 88 books about health
Psychosis Explore 23 books about psychosis

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