What Really Happens to Your Body -- from morning sickness and gas to eating everything in sight -- and what it's like to go from being a babe to having one.
The Many Moods of Pregnancy -- why you're so irritable/distracted/ tired/light-headed (or at least more than usual).
Plus, the latest scoop on . . .
Staying Stylish -- You may be pregnant, but you can still be the fashionista you've always been (or at least you don't have to look like a walking beach ball) -- wearing the hippest designers and proudly showing off your bump.
Pregnancy Is Down to a Science -- from in vitro fertilization to scheduled C-section, the latest technology provides so many options, alternatives, and tests, it can all be downright confusing.
. . . and much more! For a reassuring voice or just a few good belly laughs, turn to this straight-talking guide on what to really expect when you're expecting.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books
Fun and Frustrating
"The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy" is a difficult book to rate. Vicki Iovine's honesty and sense of humor about pregnancy deserves 5 stars. If you find pregnancy difficult for even a moment, this book will be a great comfort to you. It is a delightful antidote to the dry, frightening pregnancy books that flood the market.
But I found myself angry with a couple of the positions Vicki takes and how she presents them, especially regarding natural childbirth. This is why I knocked my rating down to 3 stars. She seems to take it quite personally that some women make birth choices different from her own, and she goes out of her way to be quite rude and petty about it.
The Good Stuff
* Vicki Iovine really and truly understands how traumatic pregnancy weight gain can be. We live in a society where we are taught to hate and fear getting fat, and we cannot just turn that lesson off when we get pregnant. It is HARD to go to the doctor and get weighed all the time, and be judged on if our gain is "acceptable" or not. Vicki gets this, she genuinely does, and it is such a joy to read her rants about it. You're not alone in being scared to step on the scale.
* The Guide includes a realistic, down-to-Earth discussion of what you really need to buy for your new baby, and what you can skip. A huge blessing for new moms!
* Much of Vicki's advice is wonderfully specific. For instance, she doesn't just tell you that you need to bring an outfit to the hospital for the baby to wear home - she tells you exactly what kind of outfit will work the best. She does honestly seem to remember what it's like to be a first-time mom and just not know these things.
* Vicki points out her own way of doing things, but she often describes the different choices her own girlfriends made. It is helpful to have realistic options and know that one way doesn't always work for everybody.
The Bad Stuff
* This book is downright hostile toward mothers who do not have epidurals. Vicki actively discourages women from considering unmedicated birth. She tells her readers that no matter how they feel about epidurals before they go into labor, they will ALL want one as soon as they get to the hospital, anyway, so they should just get used to the idea of having one. She also makes the highly unlikely claim that, even though she seems to have an endless list of girlfriends, she doesn't know a single woman who refused an epidural (except for medical reasons). She stoops so low as to claim that women who birth naturally have uglier faces after delivery. I don't know why she is so aggressive about this, but it is really off-putting. Even if you're not considering natural childbirth yourself, her tone is just downright catty and mean.
* Similarly, she chastises women who are disappointed to end up with c-sections. While she is totally supportive of a mother's turbulent emotions in just about everything else, she states that regretting a c-section is a sign of "self-centeredness." Even though she admits that a few of her girlfriends struggle with this problem. She suddently becomes very cold and uncaring when she covers this topic. Again, she seems to take it personally that some women regret c-sections, simply because she had one. I wish she could be a little more objective.
* Vicki contradicts herself frequently. She is happy to encourage women to embrace the natural process when it comes to weight gain, for instance. But she has no use for the natural process when it comes to birth - she thinks everyone should induce labor at a convenient moment.
* She is sympathetic and understanding about weight gain, but admits that she started out, pre-pregnancy, a size 4. Her definition of getting "big" is pushing a size 10. Most women can't relate to that.
* Vicki does actually suggest that if you don't have sex with your husband during pregnancy, he will get anxious and cheat on you. She has a very narrow and unfair opinion of men.
* She does not tell women not to exercise at all, but she does discourage *vigorous* exercise. This did not bother me. However, her approach did bother me. She goes to great lengths to tell you that if something goes wrong with the baby, and you have been exercising, you will blame yourself. This is true, but it's also true if you don't exercise at all. Mothers always blame themselves - if, God forbid, something happens to your baby and all you did was go to the grocery store that day, you will blame yourself for going to the store. A pregnant woman cannot insulate herself from guilt. Vicki seems to be aware of this, except when it comes to the things she takes personally. And exercise is one of those things. She is annoyed with women who try and "control" their pregnancies by exercising a lot. But she has no proof that this is actually a bad thing. It seems to bother her merely because it is not what she chose to do. Again, her tendency to be dismissive toward women who make other choices is very annoying.
* If you read the 1995 version of this book, the chapter on maternity clothing is hopelessly outdated. But this may be remedied in the second edition that is currently in the works.
Overall, this book is refreshing, fun, and comforting. It will make you feel better about being pregnant. But take Vicki Iovine's rants about epidurals, exercise, and c-sections with a large grain of salt.