Customer Reviews: What to Expect When You're Expecting: 4th Edition
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on July 23, 2006
The drawback for this book is it clearly explains almost every possible complication. With the monthly format it is a lot to read at a time. The list of complications and possible symptoms each moth can be very daunting. Yet with all of that the book is also a great resource. It gives you many things to consider that you may never have thought of. It is much more comprehensive than many other pregnancy books. It has some nice charts in the back to help you keep track of weight, size and other notes for the Doctor's or Midwives. It also has a section for coping with pregnancy loss and also preparing for the next child. A good resource for any couple expecting a child. With over 12 Million copies sold this book now, in it's 3rd edition has been trusted by many people. The authors have also written:
What to Expect the First Year
What to Expect the Toddler Years
What to Expect Eating Well When You're Expecting
The What to Expect When You're Expecting Pregnancy Organizer
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on May 5, 2014
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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VINE VOICEon October 7, 2000
This was "THE BOOK" everyone told me to get when I got pregnant for the first time. So, of course, I ran out and bought it the moment my pregnancy test was positive! But, honestly, I didn't think it was that helpful.
The second chapter is titled "Now that you are Pregnant" and most of that chapter deals with "what you may be concerned about" which could also be titled "everything that could possibly go horribly wrong with your pregnancy" and it scared me half to death. I think it increased the amount of worrying I was doing exponentially [which couldn't have been a good thing!].
I also thought the diet portion was pretty ridiculous. I agree that we need to eat very healthily, especially during pregnancy. I eat very well and I ate especially well when pregnant. However, no human being I've ever met could [or would] stick to this diet plan. It was so strict as to be useless, in my opinion. I think people do much better with a "eat well 90% of the time and let yourself fudge a little the other 10%" kind of plan. But the diet stuff DID succeed in making me feel really, really guilty for the duration of my pregnancy if I ate anything that was not whole grain, organic, and laced with a heaping spoonful of Wheat Germ.
I also didn't think this was a very good guide to the "labor and delivery" part of the pregnancy, which was a big concern for me. This book was very "medical" in its outlook on labor and delivery and didn't go into very much detail about the process, really. I found "A Good Birth, A Safe Birth" to be much more useful, as well as "The Birth Book" by Sears.
All in all, this would be a good book to have on hand as a reference, just in case there were problems with the pregnancy, but I wouldn't buy it as your primary guide to pregnancy. For my second pregnancy, a friend recommended "The Pregnancy Book" by Sears and I found that MUCH more helpful honestly.
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on April 9, 2003
When we decided to get pregnant, we read something like 25 books. One year and one baby later, I kind of feel like an expert in baby books. So let me say that this book is far and away the best pregnancy book and it is no surprise that it has been a bestseller for many years.
This book is a complete, professional, non-judgemental reference. A lot of books try too hard to be funny or cute. WTE is not humorless, but it deals with subject matter in a refreshingly straightforward way. The advice and help given echoes what our doctors have said and answered most of our questions before we even saw our Obstetritian (no, it's not a substitute).
This book covered EVERYTHING. It answered all our questions about diet, medication, flu shots, cat ownership, false labor, vitamin supplements, cramps, ultrasound, breastfeeding or how to judge your OB/GYN. All the answers were in here, along with tons of other stuff we didn't think about until we came across it here.
Most importantly, this book isn't judgemental. There are a ton of controversial issues associated with pregnancy (medication, breast feeding, circumcision). Lots of books out make a lot of assumptions about religion, single parents, "modern times" or they just avoid some issues entirely. This book assumes you can make up your own mind once you're presented with all the information. This book wasn't a replacement for our doctors, but it gave us a lot of really useful information without taking a side.
If the book has a flaw, it is the diet section. Do yourself a favor and skip that section. In all fairness, this is a flaw of a lot of the books we read (some of them reading like 1950s "Keep Young And Beautiful" rants). Our doctor gave us a 10 page handout that gave us all the information we needed.
Like I say, we read a lot of pregnancy books. It's pretty shocking how many we found to be completly WORTHLESS! I don't want to name names, and I've already written a couple of negative reviews, but I'm thinking particularly of the ones full of Erma Bombeck-esque anecdotes about La Maz classes, the "staying chic while you're pregnant" fashion mag type, the old-fashioned preachy church-lady books, or--worst of all--the "nutrition" books that focused almost entirely on weight. Some of these books are written by people with no medical qualifications at all!
A good rule of thumb: if the author has no medical qualifications, the book will be useless from a medical standpoint. Would you allow a fashion magazine editor to make up your mind about having an epidural?
Just about every pregnancy book uses the "What Nobody Will Tell You" tagline. Once you've read this book, there will be very few surprises left. There isn't a topic that isn't touched on and just about everything you need is covered in depth. That's not to say this is the only book you need, but it goes a long, long way.
I'm only harping on this because I was pretty shocked to read some of the negative reviews that complained about WTE containing a lot of information on rare pregnancy situations, saying that such information was "scary" and "unnecessary". WTE gives plenty of information on what is serious as opposed to what is a false alarm. Nobody PLANS on having a troubled pregnancy! Aren't you better off knowing what's involved and how to detect and prevent such things? I suppose for some people ignorance is bliss, but we were MUCH happier being prepared. When we went into labor 5 weeks early, we felt at least somewhat prepared for it because it was extensively covered in the book!
If you're looking for entertainment, pick up something else or rent a movie. But if you're looking for a complete, professional, and useful reference book, What To Expect While You're Expecting is THE BEST and it will be the standard for years to come.
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on January 25, 2000
Unlike so many of the other readers offering reviews of "WTEWYE," I actually found the book VERY helpful. Maybe, if you've had previous pregnancies and births (as the majority of the negative reviewers had), this book may seem too simplistic or condescending but, having never been pregnant and with no family nearby, I found it incredibly helpful for the very reason that it doesn't assume that the reader knows all the little details about pregnancy. For me, the authors answered many of those "stupid" questions I was too embarassed to ask even my girlfriends because I thought everyone knew the answer but me, and I didn't want to seem naive.
I liked the easy question-and-answer format and simply skipped over questions I wasn't interested in at the time or to which I already knew the answer. Personally, when doctors and nurses all too often don't take the time to thoroughly explain medical issues to their patients, I really appreciated the fact that this book covered even the most commonplace issues that first-timers like myself didn't know and often didn't think to ask during a doctor visit.
I may not refer to it as much during my second pregnancy, but I found "WTEWYE" invaluable during my first!
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on 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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on April 4, 2000
If you want your pregnancy to be monitored by a group of control freaks, then this is the book for you. While every pregnancy book will encourage you to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, this one goes further, urging you to develop "discplined" and "virtuous" eating habits. With _every_ bite that goes into your mouth, you should be thinking of the health of your baby. But it is not simply, or not merely, a question of health. You should also be worrying about your figure. In the section dealing with father's concerns, they print the following (real or hypothetical) question, "As petty as this might seem, I'm afraid my wife's going to get fat and flabby during pregnancy, and stay that way afterwards." Do they tell this father-to-be where to go? No. They reassure him that his concern is not "petty," since it's a question of health. And they offer a list of suggestions for the father-to-be who wants to keep his wife trim and slim post-pregrancy. "Lead her not into temptation," they write. "Practise what you preach" but "don't be too preachy" -- for example, "signal her quietly when in public, rather than making a pointed announcement to all within earshot about her ordering chicken breaded and fried". I am not making this up, I am quoting directly from the book. This is a new form of puritanism.
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on May 30, 2006
Books I recommend instead:

The Mother of All Pregnancy Books by Ann Douglas (a great general guide)

The Pregnancy Book by William Sears, MD (more of a natural approach)

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer (discusses/explains your options for labor/delivery)

I didn't get too far with this book. I like to research and make informed decisions about issues that affect my child and me. I felt that this book talks down to expectant mothers. Not to mention it gives you all these "worst case scenarios" to worry about. For example, I looked up an issue about using electric blankets. It listed all these things that could go wrong, and then they say, but if you already did that don't worry about it now the baby is probably fine. NOT helpful. BTW, I asked my dr and she said the electric blanket was fine to use.

Get another pregnancy book instead.
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on December 12, 1999
I have to agree with other reviewers that the focus of this book oftentimes seemed to be educating you about all the things that could go wrong. While this is good information to have, as a first-time mother I was more interested in wellness information and was getting information on complications and testing from my midwife anyway. Their idea of wellness was the "Best Odds Diet" which odds are no pregnant woman can stick to. They absolutely forbid sweets and set up a fairly rigid daily list of food choices. Since the title of the diet was "Best Odds" and the text carried on about the optimum health of your baby, I became a little annoyed at the notion that one cookie when I craved it would adversely affect my child. I used the information given in childbirth classes about nutrition and found it much more realistic. There are numerous free sources online that will give you the developmental information and information on changes in your body that this book contains as well as allowing you to customize for your due date and I found them more helpful. If you would like good information on prenatal exercises and wellness as well as changes in your body and fetal development, Sheila Kitzinger's Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth is a much better buy. She gives much more comprehensive information on pregnancy and birth and includes beautiful pictures as well. I gave my copy of this book to a newly pregnant friend midway through my pregnancy and kept my copy of the Kitzinger text. If this book is regarded as the Pregnancy Bible I think that is only because of widespread promoting of the text as compared to others.
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on February 21, 2006
I was 22 years old, in my second to last semester in college, about to receive my BA in Literature, sitting in my doctors office in tears and terrified to find that I was pregnant. Once the family was told, the first thing I received was this book. I am a read-a-hollic and always want to know as much about something as I can, so I dove into this book as much as my school work permitted...the further into the book I got the less I wanted to read it. This book petrified me. I was about to turn into the world's WORST mother. I am unmarried (but in a very loving, long relationship), young, work in retail (so I can finish school), can't afford to NOT work and I can't even put food in my mouth that I'm not craving. This book made me so upset and angry that I did (in a more hormonal moment) actually throw it across the room. I found that many of the Q&A sections had nothing to do with me or my pregnancy and many of my concerns were never addressed. I felt inadequate because I had not planned my pregnancy or married my "partner" before hand and found the diet plan impossible to follow. When I looked on line to find a replacement for this book I was horrified at how many people gave this book five stars. Currently, there are 801 reviews about this book and I read about half of them. Pay attention to what the low and middle ratings say, many have excellent points. My advice to mothers to be and well wishing gift givers is to pass on this book. I found it to be insulting to my intelligence, lacking in truly or current scientific backing, and inattentive to the world that most women live in (one that requires a woman to work, especially at a job that she may find fulfilling.) Don't give the gift of guilt, don't give this book.
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