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Dear pregnant people: There are a lot of books out there telling you how to conduct yourself over the next nine months. (Eat red meat! Don’t eat red meat! Sing to your unborn child! Write poetry for your uterus!) Good thing we rounded up the only five you actually need to read--or, OK, skim--to get yourself as ready as possible.


“Expecting Better”

Emily Oster is an economist by trade, and when she decided to have a baby, she did her homework with the fervor of a data-driven scientist. Her questions--“Is it ok to have a glass of wine when pregnant?” (Yep!), "What are the actual hidden dangers?" (Gardening!)--speak to real concerns. And while her book isn't as in-depth as the What to Expect franchise, she does something equally important: gives women the knowledge they need to make their own informed decisions. 

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“The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too!”

This is the all-encompassing tome to keep on your bedside table and thumb through the next time you wake up with a weird pain somewhere in your lower ribs. (Don’t worry: It’s probably normal.) Clocking in at 512 pages, this reference guide covers everything from your baby's week-by-week growth to exactly when you should and shouldn't freak out to to your doctor. In other words, don't think of it as something you have to read cover-to-cover.

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“Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers”

It may seem counterintuitive to read up on breastfeeding before you've even met the kid, but if you're considering nursing, it’s honestly a good idea. The no-frills guide explains the ins and outs of lactation (did you know that pumping post nursing sessions can up your supply?) and preps new moms for the good, the challenging and the “ow, ow stop chewing on my nipples!” part of things.

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RELATED: 7 Breastfeeding Myths Totally Busted


“Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth”

OK, this one is definitely for the touchy-feely set. Ina May Gaskin is the (ahem) mother of midwives, and her Guide to Childbirth is basically the bible if you're in the market for a natural birth. But even if you’re leaning toward an epidural, reading her account of real women's delivery stories will leave you feeling empowered.

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“Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers”

If you’re at all squeamish, you might want to tread lightly here. After all, popping out a baby ain't pretty, and authors like Cheryl Strayed and Lauren Groff spare no detail in their beautiful, and sometimes brutal, retellings of the big day(s). But all in all, it’s an inspiring book. You'll be proud to be part of their tribe--and excited to add your own story to the canon.

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RELATED: The Only 6 Baby Books You’ll Ever Need

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