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.

The books I picked & why

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Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong--And What You Really Need to Know

By Emily Oster,

Book cover of Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong--And What You Really Need to Know

Why 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.


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

By Angela Garbes,

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

Why 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.


Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness

By Catherine Cho,

Book cover of Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness

Why 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. 


Knocked Down: A High-Risk Memoir

By Aileen Weintraub,

Book cover of Knocked Down: A High-Risk Memoir

Why 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. 


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

By Kate Rope,

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

Why 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.  


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in pregnancy, health, and psychosis?

5,309 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 44 books about pregnancy
Health Explore 61 books about health
Psychosis Explore 15 books about psychosis

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Contested Bodies, Up the Duff, and What Makes a Baby if you like this list.