One of the biggest players in the parenting section of the Offspring Industrial Complex is the “What To Expect…” series of books. It’s pretty much impossible to avoid as a first-time parent and doing so would probably be declared reckless and stubborn.
The book’s wikipedia entry is impressive in its own:
Originally published in 1984, the book consistently tops the New York Times Best paperback advice category, is one of USA Today’s “25 Most Influential Books” of the past 25 years and has been described as “The bible of American pregnancy”. As of 2008, over 14.5 million copies were in print. According to USA Today, 93 percent of all expectant mother who read a pregnancy guide read What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
If managed properly, this book can have (and has had) a very long cash-cow life. For less than $9 on amazon, this book is actually a wealth of information laid out in a relatively no nonsense, calm, don’t freak out manner, which is refreshing and easy to digest. All fathers-to-be can look good by reading ahead a few chapters and pretending to be knowledgeable. The book is easy to follow and structured in a combination of “what you should be expecting this week/month” and Q&A format covering the entire pregnancy. Most people read it in small chunks as time goes by… kinda like a single along pop up book really.. Some questions asked in the book may sound stupid, but you’ll probably be happy that someone has answered them. There is a section that’s specifically directed to expecting fathers and helps explain, how shall we say…, some of the changes going women during these months. There’s obviously also a chapter on “The Day it Happens” (not conception dummy, the other one), and that’s best a chapter not to cram on the way to class as flipping through pages while driving or in between contractions is never a good idea. The publisher plays the new edition game to keep the book fresh and sales up, but you come across a used copy that’s not from the 80s, you will probably just do fine. There are other books covering pregnancy (one that I’ve seen is a week-by-week full color flipbook … probably too much for my taste), but having a whole series of them is probably overkill. This is one is as sufficient as any, or if you are gifted another one, that one is probably fine too.
So when you have a winning franchise title, why stop there, right?
The “What to Expect”series has become much more than just one title that now. The list of title has expanded greatly and has been translated in languages other than English (well, at least Spanish).
The obvious sequel is What to expect the First Year, which we purchased, got as a hand-me-down. As much as the pregnancy book was informative, it was still relatively abstract regarding the baby herself as the tangible changes and effects really had to do with the mother over those nine months. “The first Years”, however, is mainly focused on the child. The book was great to have, especially in those few weeks and months when first-time parents are clueless and tired.Like it’s brethren, the book is organized in chronological order. The book tries to shy away from any direct advice (probably on the account of lawyers) and once again focuses on keeping its readers somewhat sane. Just as much as the first book was informative,I actually found this book more useful than the original because of its direct application to the matter at hand and immediate feedback (Poke baby,…ah hah”, reaction!). As the months went by, I found myself referring to the book less but it was nice to have for important milestones.
The series, of course, does not stop there…. There’s a prequel, (What to Expect Before You’re Expecting…seriously?), another sequel (What to Expect the Toddler Years), some side stories (Eating Well When You’re Expecting), and let’s not forget the Spanish editions and the community website (www.whattoexpect.com).
But it doesn’t stop there’s children’s edition,s What to Expect When Mommy’s Having a Baby and What to Expect When New Baby Comes Home.
And then there’s the ridiculous, like What to Expect at a Play Date and What to Expect at Bed Time (among others!)
Needless to say, we stopped at “What to Expect the First Year”. By the time our daughter was a year old, we kinda had the hang of it for her day-to-day development and looked for other sources of information and knowledge for specific occasions (e.g.. Google “what fever is too high???”)