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Pregnancy Books for Fathers-to-Be

Pregnancy Books for Fathers-to-Be

By Amalah

Hi Lady,

I’m in feverish search of a book that I can share with my husband re: pregnancy and babies and guts and gore and snuggles and foot rubs. Too specific?

My dear doting husband, and Dad-to-be, SPECIFICALLY requested that I share any knowledge possible with him, or suggest readings so he could “study up.”

When a man asks for a book, you don’t deny him! The problem: all books that I find are either mind-numbingly intense OR written for a husband with the synapse firing activity of a caveman, starring as the husband in a 1950’s sitcom.

Could you please help with some advice/suggestions on any well written, informative material for my hubs?

Thanks for being you!

xoxo,
First time Mom-to-be
Jenny

Do you remember the scene in Knocked Up where WhatsHerFace finds the pregnancy book she bought for WhatsHisName, months later, still in the bag and unread? And then after she freaks out and is like, “NOPE GET OUT OF OUR LIVES” there’s a montage with a shot of him actually reading the book, meant to telegraph to us that NO YOU GUYS LOOK HE’S TOTALLY READY AND SERIOUS ABOUT FATHERHOOD NOW?

Totally not an answer to your question, obviously, but it was the first thing that popped into my head. The second being that, when WhatsHerFace found the unread book, I whipped my head around and glared furiously at my husband, who never read a single one of the “pregnancy/baby books for dads” that I bought him during my first pregnancy. (The Expectant Father and the more humorous Baby Owner’s Manual.)

Instead, he figured I would convey any important information to him along the way…and to be fair, I probably never shut up about pregnancy-pregnant things the entire nine months, and often read from my books out loud before bed. And then a couple weeks before my due date he picked up my copy of the Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy and read all the chapters about labor and childbirth. He also went online and read a few articles about how to be an effective labor coach.

I did not know he did either of those things until we were at the hospital and he pulled a tennis ball out of his bag and began massaging my lower back with it. It felt amazing and I was like, “what? where’d you learn that? YOU DIDN’T EVEN READ THE BOOKS!”

“I read the important parts,” he said.

And I guess he did. So part of me wants to say, “he can totally just read YOUR books, or at least the important parts.” If you come across something that you think he’d find interesting or useful, pass it over. Definitely make him read a non-jokey or caveman-minded description of labor and childbirth, even if it includes more clinical details. (Because if you have to go through it, he at least should be able to read about it.) Sign him up for any week-by-week email thingies you find useful (COUGH COUGH), since those won’t take a ton of time to read and glean whatever he might find relevant to him. Attend those childbirth/labor classes together — we skipped them for reasons mostly out of laziness/scheduling and were just fine without them, but in retrospect it would have been a good way to put MY mind at ease about HIS preparedness.

As for the current crop of Dad-to-Be pregnancy guides out there,  I share your side-eye at all the ones with the jokey/gimmicky titles, but perhaps some of them are worth reading despite being all YO BRO YOU KNOCKED HER UP HIGH FIVE NOW WHAT OMG DUDE!!!! on the cover. The Expectant Father has been around and reprinted for ages now, but never managed to pique my husband’s interest. Your husband might be more motivated though. (Note that I also never bothered to read it EITHER, and gave it away to a friend the first chance I got.) I really enjoyed Your Pregnancy Week by Week so I would maybe check out their dad-to-be version.

Note, however, that just about every one of these books have user reviews that say that just about everything in the books is “common sense” and they get “really repetitive.” And I can totally see how that could be true. Unless your husband actually IS a caveman or 1950s sitcom dad, it’s pretty darn likely that he knows how pregnancy and childbirth works, and that he needs to be supportive and helpful and tolerant of your moods, emotions and endless crazy list of physical symptoms. And there’s only so many ways a book can say that before getting to the “important parts” about how to support and advocate for you and your agreed-upon birth plan during labor and childbirth. And the REALLY important parts, like being a hands-on dad who knows what to expect (and look out for) once you bring your baby home.

Now Imma pitch this one to the comment section. Any suggestions, either specifically for dads/partners or just a good, all-around pregnancy guide that both parents can read? And while we’re at it , since I haven’t bought a baby book in a million years so my source material is SUPER DATED now, what would you pick as the top “guide to the first year” sort of book? Thank you, lovelies.

********

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Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Comments

  • Dan

    The Expectant Dad’s Handbook – really good, non-blokey approach for Dads who might actually be into being a Dad.

  • Shelbey

    We didn’t use the Bradley Method completely, but we did get the book and my husband read through that a lot right before the birth. It was really helpful, and I think really sunk in the supportive partner role. He also read Happiest Baby on the Block, which reallllly helped prepare him for what a newborn was like. I recommend that one to everyone.

  • Oana

    the Birth Partner is my favourite. For a baby book, I like Penelope Leach’s From Birth to Age Five.

    • NB

      OMG, yes! The Birth Partner. It’s particularly nice because it’s got a little bit of a textbook-y feel: “If A, then try B.”

      There are big chunks of it that you can leave unread and be fine (if this is your first kiddo, the section on VBAC probably doesn’t matter much for you), and you can jump to what you’re most worried about. It’s also pretty easy to break off into manageable chunks.
      And, although it discusses pain management without medication, it isn’t too pushy about non-medicated birth: you do what works for you, and your partner’s job is to be there and support. I recommend it particularly if you’re worried about navigating through labor and delivery together. He and I both agreed later that reading that book really helped him to be a better support for me (and I agreed that having him read it allowed me to outsource a lot of worrying about what to try and how to manage this big crazy thing to him, which I really appreciated). It’s kind of…a coaching manual for people who are supporting someone in labor? I liked it.

      • Jess

        My labor and delivery nurse was super impressed that we brought the birth partner book to the hospital!

        My one beef with the book is that my original birth plan was to be  drug free but heh 15 hours of labor later I was craving an epidural something fierce. My husband kept saying “well remember your birth plan” several times. I finally said “dude wtf, no that’s not what I want to hear right now” and he admitted the book suggested he say that. Once he realized that was NOT the support I needed at that point we were fine. 

  • Not a book, but our hospital offered a “Dad-To-Be” class. We had friends who were expecting at the same time and the other soon-to-be-Dad asked my husband if he’d come along for moral support. He went and I think that it was a really good experience for him. It made him much more comfortable before we attended our couples class a few months later. 

  • Lisa

    In retrospect, I personally think that pregnancy books are really useless. Everything you need to know (don’t eat deli meats, etc.) can be summed up on one short piece of paper. And other than that, your OB is there to hold your hand every step of the way. It’s not like they’re like “Quick! Your amniotic fluid is low! What do you do?”

    On the other hand, once you have the baby, there is basically no one holding your hand (pediatricians are great, but you’re probably going to have to figure out how to give the floppy newborn a bath and cut their fingernails all by yourself). Maybe it’s just because I didn’t have a lot of experience with babies, but I wish I’d done a lot more reading about babies instead of pregnancy.

  • Mary

    I thought “Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality” was really useful.

    • Rachel

      I totally agree with this, especially with breastfeeding.  After the first month or so, after we’d finally struggled through first baths and nail clipping (Daddy’s job after I cut him) and we’d figured out breastfeeding and he was gaining weight, it was like…now what?

      • Rachel

        Oops…this was supposed to be in reply to Lisa’s comment.

  • Diana T.

    This one is definitely geared more towards those who want an unmedicated birth, but my husband really liked “Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth”

    (http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Womans-Guide-Better-Birth/dp/0399525173). He’s an engineer and liked that the explanations and descriptions are science-based and practical. There are also pictures of the comfort measures/massage positions, which is nice. And it’s really not that preachy about staying unmedicated; it’s more about the process and what to expect from your body during labor and delivery.

  • Allison

    Okay, i love books and so does my husband, but we didn’t bother at all to pick up any on pregnancy or childbirth. we didn’t see a point. However…. have you watched “What To Expect When You’re Expecting”? Oh my gosh hilarious! I think that would be a great way to spend 2 hrs getting a good idea of what is to come. Both for you and hubby. It’s funny and entertaining for both of you. I think it’s still on Netflix.

  • Sara

    I’d put him in charge of newborn stuff. Happiest Baby on the Block (5 Ss), maybe even Weissbluth or whatever sleeping method you eventually think you might want.

  • Kimberly

    I second Happiest Baby on the Block and The Birth Partner. Go ahead and get the actual books and some Post-it flags and NOT the Kindle version. No one has time for that nonsense at 8 cm…or at 3am two nights later when you’re trying to find a detailed diagram of how to swaddle the baby.

  • Christine

    Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5 by the AAP! AKA the owner’s manual, can’t recommend it enough. There’s a little bit about birth at the beginning and then it gets to the good new-baby stuff. My husband listened intently while I was nattering on about pregnancy (even though he didn’t look it at the time) and then googled anything he was interested in learning more about. We both, really surprisingly, liked What to Expect….best out of all my pregnancy books. It just has a lot more facts than most books out there.

  • Jeanius

    This is my second pregnancy, and I had a better idea of what resources were out there, so I signed up for Amalah’s Zero to Forty emails and I’ve been forwarding them to my husband every week with highlighting or notes for the parts that I really want him to notice.  He’s used to reading articles on his phone, and it’s not too much at one time, so it’s worked out really well.  Thanks, Amy!

  • Joanna

    Try this one…
    http://www.amazon.com/Be-Prepared-Practical-Handbook-Dads-ebook/dp/B000SEKFZI

    It’s lots of info, tips, and tricks for the first year broken up into months. My husband really liked it and frankly I liked it better than a lot of the stuff out there written for mamas. It’s a little funny and it’s not judgemental or full of “you shoulds.” As for pregancy and L&D he got most of that info from the classes we took at the hospital. 

    • Ciara

      I second this recommendation. My husband (a non-reader) loved reading it. I really wanted to read it too for the humor but it was his book. He ended up knowing stuff I didn’t know about!!

  • KA

    As others have mentioned, I think the newborn material was much more helpful than information on pregnancy. Could be because we had a somewhat complicated pregnancy towards the end and the books made my symptoms/issues sound even scarier than they already were, but eventually we both agreed that we would just talk about my experience and not be too concerned about what a book said about what my body was/wasn’t doing. Also I probably gave him an hourly summary of my pregnancy anyway so, lol no book needed 🙂 Happiest Baby on the Block was great for us, and we also took a few classes through the hospital we chose. While those felt basic to me, I think they really helped with his comfort/confidence level with a tiny newborn! 🙂

  • shilpi

    The New Father:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Father-Guide-First/dp/0789208156

    is full of real information and witty…. it has lots of good ideas for ways the dad can interact with the baby as they progress through their first year, and has some information about development that I haven’t seen anywhere else! Awesome book for thinking dads.

  • Jennifer

    My husband also really liked the Be Prepared book. 

  • Rachel Abrams

    I thought Baby 411 was excellent as a reference for the first year. So useful, so informative, and written with a great tone.

  • Jules

    Top of my list is ‘Having a Baby, Naturally’ by Peggy O’Mara-it feels both concise and thorough, and the actual descriptions of labour are the best that I’ve found. It has month-by-month chapters on fetal development, if that’s your thing, and is, by and large, what got me through the anxiety of not knowing what labour would be like.

  • Kelsey

    The only thing my husband read, out of a stack of about 20 pregnancy/baby books was “Brain Rules for Baby” by John Medina. He just couldn’t get into the pregnancy stuff, probably because he was living through it in all its gorey detail. (Who needs to read about pregnancy gassiness when your wife is burping right next to you?)  I also found Brain Rules super interesting.  Also, on the negative end, stay away from the book “The Sh!t No One Tells You” by Dawn Dais. It’s trying to be funny, but it comes across as negative and scary. After reading a few chapters and getting freaked out, my husband made me PUT IT DOWN NOW.

  • M.

    I really love the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, it’s so reasonable, real, and helpful, without being scary. I read most of it before I got pregnant, plus just having the knowledge about pregnancy that comes with being the one who will carry the baby! As soon as we got the positive test, my husband was itching for info. I logged his phone into my Kindle account and he reads the book during his train commute some days, and it’s a similar experience to your tennis ball story. Every once in awhile I hear from him, “The book says that’s normal.” or “This might help!” or “Have you been feeling any XYZ? I read you might have that around now.” and “I can’t believe you have to..!” It’s awesome to hear him talk about it. And funny 🙂 

    Tl;dr My husband is having a great experience with the Mayo Clinic Guide.

  • Angela

    My husband didn’t read any pregnancy books (just listened to me read sections), but he did read the “The Baby Care Book” by Jeremy Friedman. He previously didn’t have a lot of baby experience and he chose this book because it “was like a textbook for taking care of babies.”

  • Chiara

    Someone already said it, but I would suggest he check out “The Birth Partner” by Penny Simkin. It’s not so much about pregnancy, but about how to be a supportive labour companion. Penny Simkin’s pregnancy book was my favourite, and I really think “The Birth Partner” isn’t one of those, roll-your-eyes-this-book-is-for-a-MAN-about-BABIES gimmicky books, because it’s geared towards doulas too!

  • Chiara

    Also, another thought I had, is that in my experience, I wasn’t in a good place to be making decisions about what I wanted to do during labour, and having my husband there and able to evaluate my choices and give me an honest opinion was really useful. So having him have a clear understanding of what might happen and what choices you might need to make when things get going, so even point him to those sections of your pregnancy books and then have a chat about them together. 

  • Margaret

    I fourth “The Birth Partner” by Penny Simkin! And I found it pretty useful for me too 🙂

  • Andrea

    I fifth/sixth/infinith “The Birth Partner” by Penny Simpkin. I know the LW technically asked about pregnancy reading, but my two cents is for both of you to do whatever minimal amount of pregnancy research you’re comfortable with and spend the rest of your time on birth and newborn reading. Also, “The Happiest Baby On The Block” is great but the video is even better (because you can see him perform the techniques) and only an hour or so long!

  • S

    We watched a childbirth video series together. It was insanely cheesy but good to laugh at it and learn together. Naive me had no clue about lochia and we both learned about effacement and the little scalp monitor they later put on baby A. I’m guessing there are lots of options, we just got whatever was at the library. It might be a good option for seeing the same info together. I also recommend going to the hospital classes together. We did a tour, multiples birth class, c-section preparedness, and he went alone to the baby care class because I was on bedrest but it was super awesome when he came home and busted out expert swaddling skills. He also got to be the hero dad going alone to practice holding a doll at the hospital.

  • Home Game by Michael Lewis (the guy who wrote Moneyball and The Blind Side and a bunch of other sports and/or finance books). It’s not a how-to guide, but it’s a series of funny stories about fatherhood that reveal the terror and uncertainty and inexplicable love a man experiences. In addition to a more practical guide (we both liked The Expectant Father), it’s a great way to ease a man’s fears that he won’t love his kids or will suck at being a dad.

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