If you find the whole idea of pregnancy and childbirth overwhelming, this book breaks things down into bite sized sections that help you get your head around the idea week by week. In this way, you can access the information you want as and when you need it, without drowning in a sea of facts and advice.

The information the book contains is a mixture of the serious topics that concern you (like anaemia and problems in the placenta) to the slightly more trivial issues like when to buy maternity clothes.

There are lots of books that purport to prepare women for pregnancy, so how is this one different? McGrail and Metland have chosen a structure that makes it easy to dip into now and again, and its comprehensive index makes it easy to navigate.

When you have an initial flick through this book, it may at first glance seem a little dry. There are no photos or graphics, and the layout is consist throughout. However, the facts that are presented are dealt with in a chatty rather than a bookish way, which makes it easy to read.

The light touch of the subject matter could be due to the background of the authors. Anna McGrail and Daphne Metland are knowledgeable about pregnancy and birth, given that they have had several children between them. They have also run antenatal classes and written hundreds of articles in parenting magazines. The pair are also editors of the well-respected pregnancy and baby website babycentre.co.uk. Accordingly, they have encountered most of the questions that would ever be asked by expectant parents.

But rather than produce a book that is effectively a selection of articles that have been strung together, the text has been carefully researched and put into a logical order. McGrail and Metland have sought research based data from a variety of health professionals, so readers can rest assured that the information is a combination of accurate data, but presented in a readable way.

From week 5, each week’s section is prefaced by a panel which gives a little information about how your baby is growing, how your body is changing, and things to think about.

The tone of the book is upbeat, but not as sugar sweet as some pregnancy books out there that pretend that every week of pregnancy is a state of luxuriant blooming. McGrail and Metland’s book addresses all of the unpleasant parts of pregnancy that women may experience from pelvic pain to stillbirth. When it comes to such delicate and serious issues, the writers treat them with realism and sensitivity.

If there is any criticism of this book it could be that to read it from cover to cover may be a little dry – a bit like a factual marathon. However, to be fair to the authors, the book is not designed to be read as such. This guide is a valuable guide, and would be a great present for any mother to be.

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