Top critical review
9 people found this helpful
Style over substance
on 1 November 2010
I bought this book when I discovered I was pregnant, and although there's nothing fundamentally wrong with it, I don't think I would buy it again.
Good things: It's a Dorling-Kindersley book so is beautifully designed and illustrated and its best sections are the ones which take advantage of this e.g. the sections on how to bathe a baby and how to change a nappy. There isn't an agenda to the book and if feels balanced and trustworthy. I heard Miriam Stoppard described as the 'Delia Smith of childbirth' somewhere, which is an apt way of conveying the style. It's generally better I would say on the medical side of pregnancy than other aspects.
On the other hand, I found the book felt quite superficial. It spent a lot of time telling you common-sense advice (do you really need half a page telling you that some people like to follow family or cultural traditions when selecting names?). But then it completely missed out major topics like SPD (which affects 25% of pregnant women!), gestational diabetes, options for the third stage of labour, co-sleeping or selecting childcare for when you return to work. I'd have expected as well to see something about foetal positioning, if only to say that it's not worth trying to do anything about if that's the author's opinion. Lots of other important topics are very much skimmed too. For example, the advice on the daunting task of choosing a pram/pushchair amounts to 'make sure the handles are a comfortable height' and 'make sure it has good brakes' and there's no advice about different types of slings, and the advice on getting people to help after the birth unequivocally recommends having parents in law stay in your house, without any suggestion that there might be downsides or alternatives to this like having them stay in a hotel or B&B.
Personally, I also didn't really get on well with the organisation of the book. It's not a book that you'd read cover to cover, but it was often hard to find specific things you are looking for - things are often hidden in the case studies where you might not find them and somehow the overall ordering didn't feel very logical to me. I was trying to find the section on when to call the hospital when you have signs of labour and the information is very buried! Sometimes useful information also isn't laid out as clearly as it might be e.g. with the hospital bag list.
I haven't looked at the alternative books enough to recommend one. Instead, if I were choosing a book again, I'd probably consider buying a book specifically about childbirth and a book specifically about postnatal care, and then just using on the free NHS book you are given at your booking appointment which covers the essentials that you'd expect to find in a pregnancy book, together with the internet if you're interested in specific topics.