The nine months of pregnancy can feel like a giant countdown. After your midwife has given you your official “due date”, there is little else that you can think about, as you while away the next 40 weeks.

This book taps into this obsession with counting down. After an initial chapter on how to maintain a healthy pregnancy, the book starts at “279 days to go” and counts down until D-Day, giving advice and information about what is happening to your body and the development of your baby.

The editor is a Consultant Obstetrician at a leading London teaching hospital, who presides over a list of contributors that reads like a “who’s who” of pregnancy and childbirth advisers. Accordingly, there is a pleasant mix of sources of credible information throughout the guide.

Given that your due date is calculated to be 40 weeks from the date of the first day of your last menstrual period, the countdown includes some advice about how to prepare your body (and how to encourage your partner to prepare his body) to be in its optimum condition for conception.

Each day’s entry is illustrated with a fascinating picture in microscopic detail showing either the foetus itself, or for the pre-conception weeks, a picture of your reproductive organs getting ready.

At first glance, this book looks like an encyclopaedia. You may be concerned therefore that it may not be an interesting read. However, this is pitched at exactly the right level to inform and entertain you without being too dry.

If you are pregnant with your first child, you may be keen to devour every snippet of information you can about the process. Do not be too concerned though if things do not happen exactly as the book describes. The book describes a typical pregnancy but does not mention that everyone’s experience varies. For example, some expectant mothers may feel their first movement slightly earlier or later than others, and as always if you have any concerns there is no substitute to getting reassurance from your midwife.

The book not only gives you information about biological issues, but also discusses the psychological impact of a pregnancy on a couple. There is also some advice about how to deal with changes the pregnancy may have on wider family relationships, and friendships.

Once the countdown has finished and the writers give some information on being overdue, the book deals with going into labour and caesarean sections, and then goes on to talk about what life will be like when you bring your baby home.

The only criticism that could be levied at this book is its physical size. At 495 A4 pages, The Day by Day Pregnancy Book is hardly something that you can take with you on the train! Its volume may put some people off. However, this is simply the price you pay for having such a comprehensive guide.

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