The best pregnancy books

23 authors have picked their favorite books about pregnancy and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Contested Bodies

By Sasha Turner,

Book cover of Contested Bodies: Pregnancy, Childrearing, and Slavery in Jamaica

Slavery was brutal in eighteenth-century Jamaica, mostly due to how hard enslaved people were worked as sugar workers. That hard work had massive consequences for enslaved women’s fertility. Early abolitionists used the inability of enslaved populations to naturally reproduce as an indictment of the plantation system. Planters, belatedly, tried to institute policies that helped pregnant women but their desire for profit usually overwhelmed their concern for maternal comfort. It meant that enslaved women themselves took the lead in forcing planters and officials to do something to make pregnancy endurable and infant mortality less extreme than before abolitionism began.


Who am I?

Trevor Burnard is Wilberforce Professor of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull and author of four books and many articles on eighteenth-century Jamaica. He has recently reviewed 34 books just published on Jamaica in “`Wi Lickle but Wi Tallawah’: Writing Jamaica into the Atlantic World, 1655-1834 Reviews in American History 49 (2021), 168-86.


I wrote...

Jamaica in the Age of Revolution

By Trevor Burnard,

Book cover of Jamaica in the Age of Revolution

What is my book about?

Between the start of the Seven Years' War in 1756 and the onset of the French Revolution in 1789, Jamaica was the richest and most important colony in British America. White Jamaican slaveowners presided over a highly productive economic system, a precursor to the modern factory in its management of labor, its harvesting of resources, and its scale of capital investment and ouput. Planters, supported by a dynamic merchant class in Kingston, created a plantation system in which short-term profit maximization was the main aim. Their slave system worked because the planters who ran it were extremely powerful.

In Jamaica in the Age of Revolution, Trevor Burnard analyzes the men and women who gained so much from the labor of enslaved people in Jamaica to expose the ways in which power was wielded in a period when the powerful were unconstrained by custom, law, or, for the most part, public approbation or disapproval. Burnard finds that the unremitting war by the powerful against the poor and powerless, evident in the day-to-day struggles slaves had with masters, is a crucial context for grasping what enslaved people had to endure.

Expecting Better

By Emily Oster,

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

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.


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.

Up the Duff

By Kaz Cooke,

Book cover of Up the Duff: The Real Guide to Pregnancy

Every woman needs at least one practical book to read along with their pregnancy. There are several good options, but Up the Duff has the advantage of being highly entertaining and easy to read. It always made me giggle. It is a great book to have by the side of your bed all pregnancy through.


Who am I?

I’m a clinical and developmental psychologist, a parenting researcher at the University of Queensland, and a mother. My research is focused on applying and commitment therapy (ACT) to parenting including the parenting of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. I wrote Becoming Mum while becoming a mother for the first time. In fact, much of the book was written while I cuddled my new baby, my laptop propped up on my knees so I could write! I am also the first author of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy the Clinician’s Guide to Supporting Parents. It is the first clinical manual on using ACT with parents.


I wrote...

Becoming Mum

By Koa Lou Whittingham,

Book cover of Becoming Mum

What is my book about?

Becoming Mum supports all women through the psychological ups and downs of becoming a mother, covering the journey from the earliest days right through infancy with advice for specific challenges from miscarriage to postnatal depression to preterm birth. Becoming Mum is grounded in the latest research and lived experience.

You will discover: your unique parenting values, and how to harness these to become a confident and happy mother, how to use mindfulness and acceptance to create a loving bond with your baby and support your baby's emotional development, techniques for coping with criticism, unhelpful advice, distressing emotions, and physical pain, how to keep your romantic relationship healthy and your support network strong, flexible, step by step strategies for facing major challenges that can be adapted to your personal circumstances.

What Makes a Baby

By Cory Silverberg, Fiona Smyth (illustrator),

Book cover of What Makes a Baby

I have read a lot of sex-ed books because I used to be an educator for Planned Parenthood and I think this book is 100% perfect. It contains delightfully colorful illustrations about how a baby is made without ever making anyone feel that they are different for the particular way they conceived a baby.

Cory writes, “Not all bodies have sperm in them.” as opposed to “most men have sperm and most women have eggs, but…” like every other sex-ed book I have ever read, making trans, intersex, and non-binary folks feel that they are an exception to some rule. I love everything Cory Silverberg does very much! And not just because we had brunch once in New York City.


Who am I?

I think Mother Goose got it all wrong. I have been creating books and coloring books for LGBTQ families for over two decades. I believe we deserve stories about LGBTQ children that are jubilant and adventurous; that are about love, mystery, time travel, and all the things everyone else treasures in their favorite books without being lesson books about bullying or being “different.” I have closed many children's books as soon as I get to the part where they are beaten up and made fun of for being gender non-conforming. I am also a visual artist and I love well-written books that are beautiful to look at.


I wrote...

A More Graceful Shaboom

By Jacinta Bunnell, Crystal Vielula (illustrator),

Book cover of A More Graceful Shaboom

What is my book about?

A More Graceful Shaboom is a children’s book about a nonbinary protagonist named Harmon Jitney who finds joy and purpose in a magical satchel, leading to an extraordinary, previously undiscovered universe. This book features LGBTQ characters seamlessly woven into a delightful, imagination-sparking story, without overtly being a lesson book about gender identity.

Follow Harmon as they unlock the key to their own inner happiness and sense of community. You may even meet a Muffin Monster along the way! It’s a dash of Narnia, The Little Prince, and the town of Woodstock all rolled into one, plus there are disco balls. I always prefer if people buy books directly from my website. This is the best way to most straightforwardly support me as an author.

Like a Mother

By Angela Garbes,

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

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.


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.

Rosemary's Baby

By Ira Levin,

Book cover of Rosemary's Baby

Now this is definitely a cult classic. The devil, a woman, the baby she wants desperately, and a deal that haunts everyone involved. I don’t have much to say about this book's style, it was good but nothing to write home about. The story, though—the very concept—was brilliantly done. Sharp twists and turns keep you gasping, which is nice for a read. I loved the imagery in this book and lost some sleep over it. Definitely recommended. 


Who am I?

Not only have I been a fan of the genre since my early childhood, I’ve also submerged myself from an author's perspective. I've honed my craft through several courses, research, and networking so that I know what I’m putting out is the best work I can produce. I love the familiar style of description and a plot woven into a well-versed tale of good versus evil, especially if the reader is left questioning whether it really was good that won in the end. My love for horror started young when I delved into Stephen King’s Bag of Bones, and I have devoured a lot of classic horror fiction since then.


I wrote...

Buried

By Sian B. Claven,

Book cover of Buried

What is my book about?

A classic horror haunted house tale with a twist. Buried follows a paranormal investigation team as they try disproving rumors of an underground mansion being haunted. It’s all great fun until they can’t get out, and the ghosts they don’t believe in start coming for them. 

Drinking for Two

By Diana Licalzi, Kerry Benson,

Book cover of Drinking for Two: Nutritious Mocktails for the Mom-To-Be

Unlike many non-alcoholic recipe books, this one's for women who are trying to conceive, are already pregnant or are breastfeeding, or individuals who are looking for a little bit more nutrition in their sips. This collection of more than 40 nutritious mocktail recipes are unique and the book also includes tips for sustainable mixology


Who am I?

I’ve been completing Dry Januarys (and other sober months) since 2017! In turn, I’ve felt more energized, more positive, have experienced better sleep and better skin, among other benefits. I think giving up alcohol for any amount of time is beneficial and I encourage people to try it.


I wrote...

The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month

By Hilary Sheinbaum,

Book cover of The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month

What is my book about?

This book is ideal for anyone who wants to complete a dry month challenge, giving up all forms of alcohol—wine, beer, spirits, and cocktails, including no shots, no low ABV cocktails, and absolutely no champagne toasts—for thirty-one days. 

Whether you’re thinking of participating in Dry January, Sober October, or want to choose a time of your own, this book walks you step-by-step through one drink-free month, from making a plan to sharing the news with friends and family (and what to do when someone tries to sabotage it) to getting back on track if you slip up and have a drink (or two).

Making a Baby

By Rachel Greener, Clare Owen (illustrator),

Book cover of Making a Baby

This inclusive guide to how every family begins is exactly the book I was looking for to help my daughter understand such important topics. Covering everything from sex, IVF, adoptions, surrogacy, vaginal birth, cesarian, miscarriage, and more. I believe starting these conversations young helps to build trust and confidence in the parent-child relationship. To make a baby you need one egg, one sperm, and one womb. 


Who am I?

I’m a feminist author, illustrator, and UX designer who thrives on projects that help to improve awareness, healing, and community around marginalized identities. When I became a mother, I realized the importance of teaching and educating children around inclusivity and empathy. When we allow children to open their minds and question stagnant culture, we set the stage for real and meaningful collective growth. I center my work around this goal and focus on inclusive themes, often from perspectives that are unexpected.


I wrote...

Feminism Is for Boys

By Elizabeth Rhodes,

Book cover of Feminism Is for Boys

What is my book about?

Boys can play sports with girls, wear dresses, cook, play with dolls, express emotions, be friends with all genders, and believe in equality. Feminism is not just about equal rights for all genders, but also about the pursuit to eradicate gendered stereotypes - allowing everyone to be their truly authentic selves. Boys are some of the most important allies in the movement for gender equality. Feminist boys should not be the exception, but the norm. Feminism is for everyone, including boys!

Preparing for Parenthood

By Stephanie Dueger,

Book cover of Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversations for Couples Becoming Families

What I love most about this journal-type workbook is how practical and easy to digest it is. The book doesn’t give specific advice but provides prompts and worksheets for couples to focus on the most frequent topics of concern for new parents so they can plan ahead for how to manage them. The book poses thought-provoking questions for partners to learn more about their own and each other’s experiences, values, and hopes and discover where both their challenges and strengths may be. Couples can pick it up, open it to any page, and have conversation prompts as well as an action item that can help them to move forward. I can imagine couples revisiting these conversations again and again over time to see how they’ve progressed and where any sticking points might still need to be worked through.

Best for: expecting couples or those who are thinking about having a…


Who am I?

Around 25 years ago, I thought my husband and I were ready for parenthood…until we got there. And as a relationship counselor, I was listening to countless stories of couples struggling through the rollercoaster ride of becoming a family too. So I wondered: can couples actually prepare for this? For years I waited for a book to recommend to my clients to guide them after our sessions ended and I ended up writing (an award-winning) one instead. This turned into training for professionals, and now expectant couples are doing Becoming Us courses at the hospitals where our three children were born. And, thankfully, there are more books to support new families too!


I wrote...

Becoming Us: The Couple's Guide to Parenthood

By Elly Taylor,

Book cover of Becoming Us: The Couple's Guide to Parenthood

What is my book about?

For expecting couples to plan ahead, new parents in the thick of it, and those wondering what to expect next, Becoming Us is a map for the journey. There are insights and practical step-by-step guidance on every page to navigate the wilds and wonders of life and love during pregnancy, birth, and beyond. Topics include work/life balance (is this our new normal?), financial pressures (can we afford this?), including grandparents and inlaws (bring a casserole!), identity shifts (who am I now?), common relationship issues (are we OK?), intimacy, sex and more. There’s also help and hope for perinatal anxiety and depression, relationship distress (what happened to us?), a challenging birth experience—and how to support each other through it all. Parents at any stage of the journey will find places to circle back, get on track, and move forward together as a team.

Best for: expecting and new mothers, fathers, and parents, and parenthood-related professionals wanting to work in a holistic, “whole family” way.

Happy With Baby

By Catherine O'Brien,

Book cover of Happy With Baby: Essential Relationship Advice When Partners Become Parents

I love Catherine’s sense of humor. Even the contents page makes me laugh out loud! Catherine shares anecdotes from her own relationship with her husband Rick and examples from other couples that make this book really relatable and easy to digest. Happy With Baby provides concrete, real-world advice, lots of compassion, and inspiration for some specific topics not covered by other books including: overcoming a hard pregnancy, three questions to ask daily for better communication between partners, what to say when mom needs to take self-care and handling unwanted parenting advice that can sometimes create conflict between parents. There’s plenty of empathy in here and also some good laughs.

Best for: new parents and friends of new parents to recommend to them.


Who am I?

Around 25 years ago, I thought my husband and I were ready for parenthood…until we got there. And as a relationship counselor, I was listening to countless stories of couples struggling through the rollercoaster ride of becoming a family too. So I wondered: can couples actually prepare for this? For years I waited for a book to recommend to my clients to guide them after our sessions ended and I ended up writing (an award-winning) one instead. This turned into training for professionals, and now expectant couples are doing Becoming Us courses at the hospitals where our three children were born. And, thankfully, there are more books to support new families too!


I wrote...

Becoming Us: The Couple's Guide to Parenthood

By Elly Taylor,

Book cover of Becoming Us: The Couple's Guide to Parenthood

What is my book about?

For expecting couples to plan ahead, new parents in the thick of it, and those wondering what to expect next, Becoming Us is a map for the journey. There are insights and practical step-by-step guidance on every page to navigate the wilds and wonders of life and love during pregnancy, birth, and beyond. Topics include work/life balance (is this our new normal?), financial pressures (can we afford this?), including grandparents and inlaws (bring a casserole!), identity shifts (who am I now?), common relationship issues (are we OK?), intimacy, sex and more. There’s also help and hope for perinatal anxiety and depression, relationship distress (what happened to us?), a challenging birth experience—and how to support each other through it all. Parents at any stage of the journey will find places to circle back, get on track, and move forward together as a team.

Best for: expecting and new mothers, fathers, and parents, and parenthood-related professionals wanting to work in a holistic, “whole family” way.

Or, view all 44 books about pregnancy

New book lists related to pregnancy

All book lists related to pregnancy

Bookshelves related to pregnancy