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Book Review: The Mother of All Pregnancy Books by Ann Douglas

For many women, the discovery that they are with child inspires a mad dash to the library in order to satiate a need to info-load on all things pregnancy. It’s all new territory and with that comes many questions and concerns. In this genre of books there are some pretty large ideological divides, of course, but The Mother of All Pregnancy Books by Ann Douglas (2012, Wiley) resists subscribing to any one philosophy in order to present an overview of the pregnancy journey in which all options are open.

First written in 2002, this new second edition is revised and updated to reflect new concerns and research (about the dangers of environmental toxins, for example) that have arisen in the past decade.

The topics in the book progress in the order in which you will need them, beginning with conception, detailing the pregnancy itself, and ending with labor. From whether to choose a home or a hospital birth, to the circumcision debate, to choosing a name, Douglas touches on it all and does so in an objective manner. She presents unbiased facts and leaves the decision-making up to you.

At 584 pages, this tome covers pretty much every pregnancy concern you could think of and she does her best to make it accessible and not overly daunting. Key information is presented in charts to make scanning easier and there is a liberal use of bullet-pointed lists. The really tough topics are not omitted and you will find helpful information on what to do if you have a high risk pregnancy, if you suffer a miscarriage, or if your baby dies shortly after birth.

With a friendly and humorous tone, one of the best features of this book are the real-life anecdotes that are sprinkled throughout. These stories from other moms help bring some of the more clinical information to life and reassure the reader that she is one of a sisterhood traveling the winding road to motherhood.

Douglas does an admirable job of including the emotional changes that come with pregnancy, in addition to the physical ones. Because every area of pregnancy is addressed, some topics do not receive the same depth of exploration as others, but for a broad overview this is a good nuts and bolts guide.

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