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108 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very complete and reassuring book
I usually do not write reviews but I felt I had to do it for this book : when I read the bad reviews about it, I wonder if we really had the same book in hand ? For me it was a mine of information and above all, a mine of reassuring tips and advices. I'm the type of person who worries about all and everything. I got this book for my first pregnancy and it helped me...
Published on March 10, 2010 by M. Brisson

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185 of 212 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Why is this book so popular?
I am now 7 months pregnant and have FINALLY come to the conclusion that this book is unhealthy for me to read and I can toss it. The writing is vapid and uninspiring. The tone is condescending. The information is watery and half-assed. Worst of all it makes me feel like a failure for not stocking my freezer full of fruit-juice sweetened bran muffins. The only genius in...
Published on July 14, 2010 by Cara


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185 of 212 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Why is this book so popular?, July 14, 2010
I am now 7 months pregnant and have FINALLY come to the conclusion that this book is unhealthy for me to read and I can toss it. The writing is vapid and uninspiring. The tone is condescending. The information is watery and half-assed. Worst of all it makes me feel like a failure for not stocking my freezer full of fruit-juice sweetened bran muffins. The only genius in this book is it's ability to make a pregnant woman feel guilty for not knitting tiny sweaters in her spare time. I would give my copy to our local thrift store but I don't want to subject another woman to it's unique form of torture.
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390 of 470 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars so condescending!, March 21, 2009
By 
Sarah (Rowlett, TX United States) - See all my reviews
This book assumes that pregnant women are idiots, and talks to them accordingly. It's full of cutsey language, puns, and linguistic tics that drove this English major up a wall. In terms of content, it contributes to our culture's position of "better safe than sorry" when it comes to kids - kids and pregnant women must be protected from anything and everything that might be the slightest bit upsetting. It does not provide any information on the research behind their advice, assuming that the pregnant woman is too stupid or lacking in self-control to make an informed decision for herself upon being presented with the facts, relying instead on making across the board recommendations on all kinds of things for which there is no scientific basis. I also hated that the miscarriage section had a big disclaimer warning pregnant women not to read it unless they actually had had a miscarriage, because the knowledge alone that miscarriage could happen would be so emotionally devastating to her that she couldn't handle it. After doing some research on my own and finding out how inaccurate and unnecessary many of their claims are, I find I no longer trust the book at all. I would not recommend it.
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946 of 1,160 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars To All the Expecting Fathers ..., May 31, 2008
By 
Ron Sullivan (Philadelphia, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Guys ... consider this a warning; this will be the worst book that your significant other can read and will make your life utterly miserable for the next nine months. It's been over four years since I had to deal with this serie's 3rd edition and I still can't stand the sight of it.

It may have been intended as a self-help guide, but its alarmist tone and condescending attitude leads this to act more as a bible for every worst-case scenario imaginable. After spending a few hours perusing this book's contents, your wife, girlfriend, whomever will become so overworked and paranoid that every little ache, pain, and irritation will become a sign of the baby being born with a forked tongue and three heads. The diet your partner will be instructed to keep is impossible for any human being alive to follow. She will be told to try and avoid ... damn near everything it seems like.

I was also incensed that after reading up on the author, all of this "wonderful" information was being brought to me by someone with NO MEDICAL BACKGROUND. If I'm going to want advice on dealing with pregnancy issues, wouldn't I want to consult an expert (i.e. someone with a degree)? Murkoff is no more an expert then I am ...

I'll be blunt, WTEWYE seems to be an EXTREMELY popular gift for someone who's pregnant for the first time and it's probably unavoidable. I came into three copies without any effort at all. I'm not going to stand here and pretend I know of a better source for information either, because (outside of ... oh I don't know ... a doctor) I don't. All I know is that if THIS is the definitive volume on the pregnancy experience, then God help us all.

I absolutely guarantee you, someone your partner knows WILL buy this for her. Your mission is to "lose it." If you're already stuck with it and you can't hide it or burn it, at least do your best to temper its pages with as much perspective as you possibly can. Again, for a first-time mom-to-be, who, frankly, is probably a bit nervous anyway about all the changes her body is going through, all this volume is going to accomplish is completely freaking her out.

Batten down the hatches and break out the antacid my friends, it's gonna be a long nine months
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78 of 97 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What to expect when you're expecting? From this book, expect terror!, April 30, 2009
I bought this book thinking it would be helpful, but it reads more like a lecture from some know-it-all jerk. I have to agree with another reviewer who commented about the condescending tone of this book. It seems in every other passage, there are some subtle (and often not-so-subtle) comments about weight gain, which, I suppose, are supposed to be "funny" or "cute" but simply fall flat. Also, there are helpful "hints" throughout it that simply advertise additional books published by these people (advertising snippets) to try to brainwash you into purchasing more of their garbage. In addition, the diet plan is ridiculous. I slammed the book shut for good when I got to the part about (I'll paraphrase it) "walking to ease morning sickness and so you don't get fat! But before you go for a walk, make sure you always wear sunscreen!!!!" Gee, thanks, Captain Obvious. Every chapter lectures about weight gain, which is a good thing to keep an eye on, but seriously, it's in every other paragraph. This book talked to me as if I were a complete utter moron, and made me paranoid about preservatives, that I HAD to HAVE a completely 100% organic diet, and that if I didn't, I could just READ ON ABOUT EVERY POSSIBLE BIRTH DEFECT or terrible situation that could occur. Don't buy this book...I expressed my feelings to a friend and she, totally understanding, said she threw that book out. She then handed me a well-worn copy of "Your Pregnancy, Week By Week", which was written by a physician in an intelligent style. I'm taking this book of terror back to Borders!
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54 of 67 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How to be constantly scared while you're expecting..., July 19, 2009
This book is horrible. I am an RN who used to work OB. My friend and I are currently pregnant with our first babies and another common friend gave each of this book as a gift. I put it down after the second chapter and never picked it back up. My friend was calling me constantly in the first few months of her pregnancy, fearful that she may have damaged her baby because of something this book said. She was in tears after she ate a chef salad because this book said deli meat could cause miscarriages. Women need to be informed, not scared of everything they encounter while they are pregnant.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Does not deserve to be America's #1 pregnancy book, May 5, 2014
By 
ALMD (Hyattsville, MD, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: What to Expect When You're Expecting: 4th Edition (Kindle Edition)
I just read this book cover to cover. No, seriously. And man, am I glad I was not pregnant at the time.

This is far from the first pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book I've ever read. I'm a health and research nut, and a librarian, so I do a lot of research and reading before I do anything. I try to consult a variety of sources from different viewpoints. Since this is the #1 most-recommended pregnancy book, I figured I might as well read this one too and see what all the fuss is about. I have yet to figure it out.

1) The main issue I have with this book is the clear lack of research that went into it. There are absolutely ZERO references in the entire book (and it is a beast of a book). The author's credentials also seem to be limited to a) she's a mom, and b) she is the author of this book. Yet she spouts "knowledge" and information like it's gospel. The forward is written by an esteemed OB/GYN, and I can see why he endorses the book, which I will point out below, but as for any type of verified medical or research-based advice, that is it. She tells you exactly what to do, but offers nothing in the way of an explanation about why you should do it. Oh, she says "Do this because . . . ." and "Studies show . . . " but gives no names or authors of those studies so that you can check it out for yourself. Maybe that works for some people, but not for me. I need more than the word of one woman who happened to have two children and write a book about it.

2) This book perpetuates (possibly unintentionally) an increasingly disturbing (and increasingly outdated) "medical management" view of pregnancy and childbirth. The author repeatedly tells you not to worry about your pregnancy, but goes on to list the MYRIAD ways something could very possibly go wrong if you don't exactly follow her advice. There's nothing wrong with being aware of the various pregnancy complications, but the tone of this book is very "Do absolutely everything your practitioner says and don't worry your pretty little head." Every single question is answered with "Ask your practitioner." There is a section near the beginning about making sure you have a practitioner whom you like and respect, but basically, as long as you find someone you're socially compatible with, that person's word is it. Especially during the childbirth section, she describes the various medical interventions as inevitable, doesn't discuss the reasons WHY such procedures are performed, doesn't cite studies about how effective or ineffective they are, doesn't mention or explain informed consent AT ALL (I mean, if your practitioner ordered it, don't ask questions, just go with it), and shows a strong bias for OB/GYNs, hospital births, C-sections (after all, almost one-third of women in the U.S. give birth that way -- don't you want to as well?), and all the pain-relief drugs you can get your (and your baby's, I might add) hands on. Again, there is nothing wrong with choosing an OB/GYN, a hospital birth, or pain-relief drugs -- but women deserve to have all of their options (and studies demonstrating the pros and cons thereof) laid out for them without scaring them into just doing everything their practitioner says. Again, I can see why the author of the forward endorses this book and it's routinely handed out at prenatal appointments: it begets compliant patients who don't ask questions. God forbid you be "difficult" when someone is just trying to help you have a healthy baby!

3) The lack of alternative viewpoints is astounding. Obviously every pregnancy/childbirth book has its own ideology, but for a book that claims to include everything you need to know about pregnancy and childbirth, it should not take a one-size-fits-all approach. So many women only ever read this book and aren't even aware that other philosophies (with actual research to back them up) exist.

Times are changing. More and more women want to take research- and evidence-based approaches to something as important as conceiving, carrying, and giving birth to their children. Blind faith in the medical profession is no longer the norm. This book is an outdated remnant of a dangerous and uninformed past --giving it to every pregnant woman just prolongs the torture (and those compliant patients everyone seems to want).
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108 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very complete and reassuring book, March 10, 2010
By 
I usually do not write reviews but I felt I had to do it for this book : when I read the bad reviews about it, I wonder if we really had the same book in hand ? For me it was a mine of information and above all, a mine of reassuring tips and advices. I'm the type of person who worries about all and everything. I got this book for my first pregnancy and it helped me getting started and understanding the pregnancy step by step.

It is much less a catalog of awful things than other books such as "your pregnancy week by week", for instance - that, in a funny way, readers that actually disliked "what to expect" preferred. In a funny way, because for each week, you have about three pages about you and the baby, and the rest for what can go wrong, full chart of what substances will do to your baby, money concerns, it even talks about tuberculosis !! Personnally, I realy disliked "week by week" as, after every chapter, I felt I had read more about problems than about the pregnancy. I did not have this impression with "what to expect".

I got very worried at the beginning of my pregnancy because I'm older (37) and was experiencing cramping and no morning sickness. In at least 4 places in "what to expect" they explain this is perfectly OK and normal and that this is not necessairly bad unless associated with other symptoms.
I also had a miscarriage - and the book helped me cope with it in a wonderful way. It told me more than my own doctor... I actually found that it is written in a way that leaves room for everyone, every taste, every reaction, without judging nor condescending as others have said.

Honestly I have few usage of a book that would NOT tell me the truth abouth what to expect : the various pregnancy symptoms, the procedures, what can go wrong. In other books I got they do not talk about "normal cramping" - and I would have begun to worry about not reading about it. This is the exact reason WHY I got this book - so that I can find most of the answers that I'm looking for. And if there is something to be looked at in more detail, there is always your practitioner, and the internet. And let's face it : pregnancy is not a piece of cake. I do not need a book enhancing how wonderful time it is... I need a book that is practical and matter-of-factly.

Actually I found strange all the reviews of hate - as if the readers had developped a personal relationship with the book itself. After reading the book, I find most of the reviews exagerated - this is of course my own take at it ;). I guess people find in there what they want to find... maybe the style in which it is written is not the cup of tea of everybody. Personnally it did not prevent me from getting the information that I was looking for without getting emotional over it.

A few excerpts of the book that answer some concerns of other reviewers :

Reader : "it was so discouraging to be reading the guilt-inducing message that I might be denying my baby something because I was gagging on my spinach". Extracts :
- page 89 : "there is a very important point to keep in mind as you embark on making a diet change for the better :what's presented in this chapter is the ideal, the best possible plan for eating when you're expecting. Something you should strive for, certainly, but nothing you should stress over (especially early in pregnancy) [...] "
- page 92 : a full "No more guilt" section...

Reader : "You know what it says in the index? "Mood swings: see depression."
This is absolutely not true. Tere are two pages on mood swings, one on panick attacks, and it explains why and how to cope with it and how your husband can cope with yours... the index actually says : mood swings : 162-164 ; and DHA/Omega 3 ; and thyroid condition; father's ; spouse coping with your ; see also : baby blues, depression, emotions

Reader : "This book is full of information unfortunately, it is all the scary information."
Well, I think the contrary. The scary information is actually regrouped at the end of the book, in a chapter called "managing a complicated pregnancy". The introduction to the chapter reads : "If you've had a problem-free pregnancy so far, though, this need-to-know chapter is not for you (you don't need to know any of it). Most women sail through pregnancy and childbirth without any complications. While information is definitey empowering when you need it, reading about all the things that could go wrong when they're not going wrong is only going to stress you out - and for no good reason. Skip it, and save yourself some unneeded worry."
By the way, this is the same disclaimer this reader is talking about here :
Reader : "I also hated that the miscarriage section had a big disclaimer warning pregnant women not to read it unless they actually had had a miscarriage, because the knowledge alone that miscarriage could happen would be so emotionally devastating to her that she couldn't handle it."
I call this an far-fetched interpretation of what is actually written.

Reader : "...was advised to have an amniocentesis. The language in "What to Expect" emphasizes: 1. The large size of the needle, 2. The risks of the procedure, and 3. Pain"
I think you read what you want to read. These facts were not "emphasized" but merely described. And these ARE the facts. Would you prefer a book stating that the needle is nothing to notice, that the procedure has no risks and there is no pain ? You would call that book a liar...

"Although it explains procedures, it does not emphasize a pregnant woman's rights to refuse those procedures if she chooses, and take ownership of her medical care during this crucial time."
Again I do not think this is true. Of course if you jump directly to the paragraph talking about amniocentesis, there is nothing there. But there are some caveats in a lot of other places, particularly in the few pages preceding the description of the invasive procedures. For instance :
- page 59 : "for those whose concerns represent more than normal expectant-parent jitters, the benefits of prenatal diagnosis can far outweigh the risks."
- page 63 : (talking about screening which is a blood test) : " once you have that information, you can decide, together with your practitioner, whether you want to undergo diagnostic testing". page 64 (same) : "the major risk of the test is that a positive result may lead to follow-up procedures that present greater risks. Before you consider taking any action on the basis of prenatal screening, be sre an experienced physician or genetic counselor has evaluated the results." (follow the descriptions of various procedures including amniocentesis)

Anyway, I will just stop here, it was just an illustration of what people disliked vs what was really written. Try to borrow the book or have a peak inside here or at a library to get an idea of whether it's right or wrong for you. It was definitely right for me. Every pregnancy is different... everybody is different.
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62 of 81 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really unhelpful and alarmist, August 5, 2008
By 
Elizabeth (United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This book offers only one version of pregnancy and childbirth - a managed, highly medicalized version. Which is totally fine if this is what you want, but this book doesn't present it as, "Well, you have this option or this option." It is straight away one version of high-drama childbirth that totally discounts the ability of most women to have a healthy, normal birth and healthy normal baby. Granted, all birth books seem to have a slant, but why not err on the side of what is healthiest for mom and baby? Sure, if you feel like you cannot birth without drugs or you don't care about having an episiotomy, this is fine and good, but lots of people find that when they are not scared into these procedures, and scared by birth in general, things tend to go more easily. The Sears pregnancy and birth books acknowledge the need/option for fetal monitoring, ultra-sounds, c-sections, drugs, etc., but at least give you the information about them rather than assuming that they are routine and 100% without risk. More on the alternative side is Having a Baby, Naturally: The Mothering Magazine Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth, but even if you don't end up going that route, everything in the book is well documented by studies, so it is a great source of information. I'm not trying to be harsh on this book, but it really stinks at giving a balanced, comprehensive view of your options, or of portraying birth as a natural, normal process. Try to avoid it if you can - it just makes you feel more nervous and stressed.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Full of Myths, February 12, 2012
In terms of anatomical information (i.e., how your baby is developing) and common symptoms, this book is pretty good, although all that information is available on websites and in other books. I will say that when I started spotting and cramping in week 7, this book kept me from panicking too much, so that's a plus. (Everything was fine--sometimes you just spot.)

However. My main beef with Murkoff is that she repeats a lot of pregnancy myths that have no basis in solid research, many of which have actually been debunked. The idea that pregnant women can't eat sushi is, in my opinion, based more on xenophobia than actual risk; one source I found stated that the risk from e.coli in beef is comparable to the parasite risk in raw fish, yet no one's demanding that pregnant women stay away from hamburgers. Yet Murkoff casually states that sashimi is off-limits because "it might make you sick." She doesn't explain how or why, or how many cases there have actually been of sashimi harming fetuses. Just--you know--raw fish! Icky weird! Same with herbal tea--while pregnant women in other part of the world are enjoying their chamomile before bedtime, Murkoff tells us to abstain from any herbal tea at all because their effects "have not been well researched." So the gingerbread spice mix I found in my Christmas stocking is exactly as risky as an obscure medicinal tea I buy from an apothecary? Come on. It's bad enough if you repeat something you heard in casual conversation, but if you're writing a freaking book about it? Please think critically! It's like she's just regurgitating stuff she got off the street.

Also, I agree with other reviewers that the ultra-strict, tightly controlled diet she suggests is beyond ridiculous. I found splitting my eating habits into five or six small meals helpful when I had nausea and indigestion, but I doubt there's a single woman on earth who was able to follow that diet to the letter (especially when your nausea and aversions limit you to mac and cheese for a week, which happened to me). I'm finding Michael Pollan's advice much more practical: just eat food!

Look, I know that a lot of bad stuff happened to women and babies before modern medicine. But now Americans have swung to the opposite extreme, where we think anything found in nature is harmful and a controlled, bland, sterile environment is the only way to stay alive. And this attitude is bad for us! See Burkhard Bilger's November 22 New Yorker article, "Nature's Spoils," for some good information.

A few more quibbles: the section on unassisted birth is ludicrously complicated--no one in the middle of delivering a child is going to be able to follow instructions like "don't push when you feel the urge to push, but okay, now push, but push the head down to deliver the top shoulder and push it up to deliver the bottom shoulder." Wha...? (By contrast, Ina May Gaskin's advice is "let your monkey do it:" that is, let your instincts guide you.) Also, although she goes over home and natural birth options at the beginning of the book, the chapter on labor assumes you'll be in a medical setting. She also seems to assume you'll have a male coach with you. Sorry, single moms and Lesbian parents--you do not exist!

Finally, the cutesy language and condescending advice (if you ride a bike while pregnant, wear a helmet!) is extremely irritating. (Do you wear the helmet over your uterus?)

Overall, while it contains some useful information, and I've certainly had fun tracking my pregnancy week-to-week, What to Expect contributes to the predominant view of birth in the US: pregnant women are helpless idiots; giving birth is the most dangerous thing that can possibly happen to you; and everything you do while pregnant, from eating the wrong food to doing the wrong exercise, will cause immediate and irreversible harm to your baby. If all this were true, how has the human race lasted this long?
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Read the Mayo Clinic Guide instead!!!!, January 17, 2009
If you're looking for a book with clear, concise, helpful information, look further! I'm not sure how this book became the "go-to" book for pregnant women. Months are lumped together, so you won't really know what stage of development your baby is going through. The information is so focused on worst-case scenarios, that it will make you anxious rather than relaxed.

Buy the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy instead. It contains well-organized, important information that is actually written by doctors! The baby's development is divided into chapters by month, but then within that month there is a week by week section describing changes in the baby and yourself. My favorite part during the early weeks of development are the pictures of what the baby looks like at 5 weeks, 6 weeks, etc. The labor and deliver section of this book is also excellent!
Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
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