Archive | 10:44 AM

Book Review: Expecting Better by Emily Oster (4/5)

6 Apr

When we found out I was pregnant, my husband very sweetly ordered me a copy of this book. He knows I’m an anxious person and didn’t want to get me a pregnancy book that detailed all the horrible things that could happen when you’re pregnant. Instead, he focused on a realistic, data-based information and that’s exactly what Oster delivers. It’s even better that she has a sense of humor about it.


Cover image via Amazon

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong- and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster

Summary from Amazon:

Pregnancy—unquestionably one of the most pro­found, meaningful experiences of adulthood—can reduce otherwise intelligent women to, well, babies. Pregnant women are told to avoid cold cuts, sushi, alcohol, and coffee without ever being told why these are forbidden. Rules for prenatal testing are similarly unexplained. Moms-to-be desperately want a resource that empowers them to make their own right choices.

When award-winning economist Emily Oster was a mom-to-be herself, she evaluated the data behind the accepted rules of pregnancy, and discovered that most are often misguided and some are just flat-out wrong. Debunking myths and explaining everything from the real effects of caffeine to the surprising dangers of gardening, Expecting Better is the book for every pregnant woman who wants to enjoy a healthy and relaxed pregnancy—and the occasional glass of wine.

This book was refreshing. It’s great to hear that a lot of the ‘rules’ of pregnancy, while founded, are a bit overdramatic. I’d been avoiding even a sip of beer and longing for a Jersey Mike’s sandwich for the past five months and it was refreshing to learn why I’d been told to avoid these things. Oster is a very intelligent woman (I get why she didn’t put Dr. on the cover, but PhD would have been founded!). Her knowledge of medical research and ability to read into it helped me make some decisions about how I’d behave during my pregnancy that I feel a lot more comfortable with. I check the mercury levels of a fish before I order it, but I also demand a sip of my husband’s wine while we’re visiting Michigan wine country.

Oster bases her book on her first pregnancy with her daughter. She takes you through the decisions she and her husband were faced with at each step and it was easy for me to follow along. I’m in my second trimester and had all the memories of conception and first trimester, while sharing her fears of third trimester and labor. She’s highly relatable and her audience can easily find themselves saying “Yes, exactly!” while reading. She portrayed herself in a favorable yet relatable light that was fun to read.


Emily Oster Image via the author’s website

I enjoyed her deep dive into food restrictions, which is something I’ve struggled with. I’ve reduced my caffeine intake, but there’s some nights that baby kicking keeps me up and I need that second cup of tea. I’m worried about hurting baby! But reading her research and understanding where limits are made me feel a lot better. The same goes for the occasional sip of wine (I’m writing this from the hotel of my Babymoon in Michigan wine country) though I avoid a whole glass as Oster prefers. Undercooked eggs are a favorite of mine (over easy is the BEST) so understanding the risks of having an over easy egg were great, rather than avoiding them completely. I feel good about having one now that I’m in my second trimester, though I probably would have avoided it earlier on in pregnancy!

The section on weight gain was difficult for me to read. I’ve always been hard on myself about my weight and I ditched scales completely about four years ago because they were creating an unhealthy obsession. I’ve finally gotten to a good place and have felt good about my weight and body image. Then came pregnancy where I’m weighed all the time and people have judgements to make about how much weight I’ve gained. It’s very stressful for me and Oster’s section increased that stress level. I’m not looking forward to my doctor’s opinions on my weight gain or lack there of. I eat when I’m hungry and I can tell when Baby started to need more food so I feed them. I’m staying as active as I can and have been eating healthy. If that’s not enough, so be it. I liked the conclusion Oster eventually came to, but the process stressed me out!

Oster wanted to take control of her pregnancy and I really enjoyed hearing about how she did that. I think the ‘rules’ she researched were ones that a lot of woman accept without question and I was glad to learn the reasons why. Some of them are blanketly applied unnecessarily and it was helpful to understand why these rules exited and how they would apply specifically to me and my pregnancy.

Writer’s Takeaway: Using her personal experience made this book very relatable. If Oster had not used anecdotal experience or followed her own questions and decisions about pregnancy, it would have come off as a cold list of facts about pregnancy myths instead of an intimate story that read like a memoir at times. She connected well with her audience.

This was a great book to read during pregnancy and helped me understand the wisdom and folly of pregnancy rules that I should follow. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts: 
Emily Oster’s new book “Expecting Better” challenged by FASD experts | CanFASD 
Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong- and What You Really Need to Know | Ready Mommy’s Book Reviews 
Expecting Better- By Emily Oster | Rambling Writer 
Expecting Better | MeReader