The Rough Guide to Pregnancy and Birth
sets out to offer "the soundest, sanest, wittiest advice you'll ever get" about life as an expectant mum. Covering "the scary parts, the funny parts and your private parts" Australian author Kaz Cooke counts down to motherhood using a week-by-week format, at each stage explaining what's going on to you and baby, exploring common health complaints, suggesting remedies and looking at what will happen at antenatal visits. She also includes a semi-fictitious weekly diary account that provides a friendly and very funny voice to reassure you that you're not alone.
Overall, this format works well, particularly if you're a reader who dips in and out. Not least, it means you can check up on whether you're growing out of your clothes at a normal rate! It's also good to sneak a peak at a couple of weeks in the future and suss out what's in store. Its readable, illustrated layout lends itself to perusal when symptoms are getting you down, not just because it makes you laugh about morning sickness, constant weeing and leaking breasts, but also as it make you realise that actually things could be worse! Having sneaked a peak at week 41 you could be disappointed that the diary birth is eventually by Caesarean. Obviously this prepares you for the worst case scenario but it results in skipping over the protracted labour stages which, for most new mums, makes required reading, not matter how scary they sound.
On the whole this book is funny, frank and perfect to dip in and out of but it's not one you'd really use as a reference guide, particularly if you were genuinely worried about an aspect of your pregnancy. Being the work of one sole author it's obviously a rather subjective view of what is for everyone, a uniquely personal experience. It complements the likes of Miriam Stoppard and Sheila Kitzinger but (despite being much more entertaining) really couldn't begin to replace them. Pregnant women are notorious for reading every book they can get their hands on, and despite The Rough Guide to Pregnancy and Birth presenting itself as a definitive guide, it's not going to change that habit any time soon.--Shona Campbell
The perfect tonic for the terrified first-timer (Independent on Sunday
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