5 Books to Read When You’re Pregnant


Two people sitting on a couch. One person has their arm around a pregnant person and they are reading a book together. Books to read when you're pregnant.

Once you find out you’re pregnant there’s a lot to learn!  A quick search for books on birth and babies reveals a staggering number of options.  Which ones should you read?  Sorting through the choices can feel overwhelming.  To help parents out, I’ve narrowed the options down to just a few books to read while you’re pregnant.

When I found out I was having twins, I was working at a public library, so I had easy access to literally hundreds of books about pregnancy, birth, babies, and parenting.  I took advantage of that and read prolifically. Truthfully, it wasn’t the best strategy. The long lists of do and don’ts, the contradictory parenting theories and lists of things that can go wrong in pregnancy set my head spinning. 

As a local doula, I’ve read even more widely and perhaps more wisely. From the many books I’ve read, I’ve found a few that I would recommend to all pregnant people. When I’m evaluating books to read when you’re pregnant, I look for ones that are inclusive of different types of birthing people, do not dwell unnecessarily on fears and risks, and remain respectful of individual choice.  

Why Did No One Tell Me This? by Ash Spivak and Natalia Hailes

Book cover of Why Did No One Tell Me This? Shows a pregnant person holding their stomach. One of the best books to read when you're pregnant.Written by two doulas, this book is a manageable size and covers all the basics.  It’s readable, down to earth and informative.  Even though I had taken a childbirth ed class and given birth to twins before I read this book, I learned so much! The best part of this book is the author’s unshakeable insistence on a birthing person’s right to make informed choices for themselves.  If you only read one book when you’re pregnant, let it be this one.  

Book cover of Transformed by Birth. Gold letters on a teal cover.Transformed by Birth by Britta Bushnell

This is undoubtedly a different type of book about giving birth. As a scholar, Bushnell uses her vast knowledge of mythology to frame the journey of giving birth. And even if her use of myths and archetypes is not your cup of tea, this book is still worth the read. It introduces you to the most valuable way of viewing birth and postpartum that I’ve found.  And it combines this with some of my favorite practical ways to practice and prepare for labor 

So many books to read when you’re pregnant push one type of birth or parenting over others. Natural birth, home birth, attachment parenting, a twelve step plan to help your baby sleep through the night on day two. All of these types of books firmly advocate the best way to birth or parent. Unfortunately, they can leave a parent who doesn’t fit that mold feeling like a failure. What I like about Britta Bushnell’s book is that she doesn’t advocate for any one outcome. Instead she focuses on preparing birthing people for any outcome. And preparing for the unexpected may very well be the best way to prepare for birth.

Book cover of Build Your Nest. White background with a golden egg and black nest. One of the best books to read when you're pregnantBuild Your Nest by Kestral Gates

Reading, planning and learning about pregnancy and birth are important. Equally important is preparing for the postpartum period. Unfortunately, beyond creating a registry and having a baby shower, we often neglect to plan for life after baby. Having the right stuff is a very small part of being prepared for life as a new parent. This workbook by Kestrel Gates will guide you through creating a care plan so that you, your family and your baby can truly thrive. Full of resource lists, tips and valuable information, reading and working through this book is one of the best ways you can prepare for new parenthood.

Book cover of the birth partner. Depicts two people standing and supporting a pregnant person on a bed.Bonus Books to Read When You’re Pregnant: The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin

This one is longer than the others and much more in depth. But it’s worth it. If you (and ideally your partner) want a deep dive into the physiology of giving birth, the stages of labor and the most helpful advice for supporting a birthing person, this is a must read. Penny Simkin is a wise leader in the birth world and she’s shared much of her vast knowledge in this book. Even if you can’t get through the whole thing, you may want to take some time with your birth support person to read and try the comfort measures Simkin describes. Whether you anticipate using medical pain relief or are hoping to avoid it, these strategies will help most birthing people at one point or another in labor and delivery.

A Special Book for Your Baby

With all the reading you’re doing yourself to prepare for baby, don’t forget to pick a special book to read out loud to baby while you’re pregnant. Hearing your voice or the voice of another will soothe the baby and help prepare them for the transition to the outside world.  And it will also remind you of the amazing end goal in all this reading and preparation: adding a beautiful new baby to your family!

There are literally thousands of other options out there and you may want to read a few others. Each family’s circumstances are unique and there are wonderful books out there to help you navigate different paths. If you’re planning on nursing, a good book on breast/chest/body feeding is valuable. Parents of multiples, parents who have experienced loss, parents wanting to have a VBAC… there are books out there for all of you.  But if you find yourself feeling more anxious while reading them and not less?  Put them away.  The best books to read when you’re pregnant will leave you feeling informed, not anxious.