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What to Expect Before You're Expecting (What to Expect)

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,324 Ratings  ·  137 Reviews
Announcing the prequel. From Heidi Murkoff, author of America's bestselling pregnancy and parenting books, comes the must-have guide every expectant couple needs before they even conceive—the first step in What to Expect: What to Expect Before You're Expecting.

An estimated 11 million couples in the U.S. are currently trying to conceive, and medical groups now recommend tha
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published May 15th 2009 by Workman Publishing Company (first published January 1st 2009)
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The Holy Terror
Oct 13, 2011 The Holy Terror rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody!
Completely useless. Most of the info contained within can be easily gleaned from the internet with a few cursory searches. If you don't know it's good for you to eat healthy food, be at a healthy weight and not smoke when you're trying to conceive you shouldn't be contributing to the human race anyway. She also assumes that every woman out there wants to make babies as fast as they can, but what about the people who have misgivings? No advice for them?

The author is not a doctor and she doesn't
Oct 13, 2011 Lightreads rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I didn’t totally hate this, even with all the mealy-mouthed cutesy bullshit (I say this solemnly and with purpose: if any of you ever catch me unironically using the phrase “baby dancing” instead of just saying sex, do us all a favor and insert bullet into brain post haste, please and thank you). I didn’t even hate her complete aversion to showing her work and, you know, citing like a fucking professional. I
didn’t even hate the entire 50 words she devoted to noticing that,
ohmygosh, there are peo
Suzanne Ledford
May 14, 2012 Suzanne Ledford rated it it was amazing
First off, let me say I'm far from even expecting to expect. That said, I still love this book. For any woman who wants to get pregnant, thinks she might want to get pregnant or is just interested in learning all there is to know about pregnancy, then this is the book for you. WtEBYE covers everything from what vitamins to take and foods to eat to what possible problems you might face and what options there are if you have trouble conceiving. It has an in-depth fertility journal in the back so y ...more
This book offers only a small section to preconception planning (first 70 pages) and the following 200 are about fertility issues. It would be better named "What to Expect When You Have Fertility Problems, With a Side Note on Preconception Planning." ::sigh::

There is a lot of valuable fertility information in here and I really feel that this was the motivating factor in writing this book. There are several, better books on preconception than this, but this is not a bad place to start. A springbo
Jun 03, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative book. This book got a lot of unfair reviews. If you are in the medical field, you'll probably hate this book. It is goofy, light hearted, and very informative. It is written with a forward by a doctor who agrees with the information that Heidi Murkoff shares with her reader, so, quite frankly, I didn't need an endnote reference for every fact that was shared with the reader. It helped me make a few lifestyle/vitamin alterations to boost my odds at conceiving. I enjoyed the silly phra ...more
Dec 04, 2013 Kim rated it liked it
Shelves: my-book, challenge13
I didn't hate the book, and some of the GoodReads reviews of the book are a bit harsh.

Sure, there's information here that's easily found on the internet, but that could be said of most topics under the sun. The book acts as a nice stepping off point for the clueless (me!) and at least it's a consolidated sampling of the information I didn't know that I needed to know. Now I can take what I read and actually do more in depth research. Going blindly into the wilderness of internet information can
Modern Girl
Feb 17, 2012 Modern Girl rated it liked it
I guess...maybe this book wasn't meant for me? I do plan to have a family in the next 3 years. My doctor did put me on prenatal pills to boost my calcium & folic acid while I'm still under 30. I've been working today a more active and healthy lifestyle for the past 14 months in the aim to "get fit for pregnancy down the road."

So, I thought this book would be useful.

There was a useful chapter. That's right, one chapter. The stuff about caffeine, and weight, and PCOS (which they make it sound
Dec 13, 2011 Carissa rated it it was ok
Shelves: baby-books
The first twenty or so pages has a great wealth of information. The chapters after that kind of go over the same stuff in detail and weren't terribly interesting. There are helpful pages in the very back that you can copy and fill out.


Get a full checkup-- weight check, thorough physical, medication overview, blood test (hemoglobin or hematocrit, RH factor, rubella titer, varicella titer, urine screen for diseases, TB, HepB, CMV, taxoplasmosis titer, thyroid, STD), PCOS, uterine fibroids cy
Aug 12, 2014 Victoria rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Readers wanting a baseline understanding of conception and bodily health prior to conception
Shelves: parenting
2.5 stars. I read this book because my husband and I are thinking of trying to conceive in the near future. I had very mixed feelings about it.

Because it was the first book I read, and because I do not have many close female friends who are mothers nor any siblings, even some of the basic information about what you should and should not do when trying to conceive was useful. (This includes such obvious advice as getting your weight under control, taking your vitamins, and a reminder about some t
Mar 22, 2013 Ashley rated it did not like it
A few things I learned from this book:
1. You should totally quit smoking before trying to get pregnant
2. That drinking habit you have should probably go, too.
3. And that other little ah, habit you have? Ix-nay on the rugs-dray.

Ugh - the beginning of this was SO bad. It got a little better as it went on, but still nothing earth-shattering. And the author has an awful habit of putting at least one thing (sometimes two, sometimes three - I guess she likes to mix it up) per sentence in parantheses (
Dec 07, 2015 Sofija rated it liked it
In the next edition, this book should absolutely have an entire section on pre-conception planning for lesbian couples AND/OR non-traditional family planning. Otherwise, it was useful and had some valuable information.
Feb 11, 2010 Jaime rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2010
We’ve been trying to have a baby for a couple of years now, and I thought it was time that I made sure that I was as educated as I thought I was about conception. I definitely learned a few things from this book. This is a book you can skip around in easily, because not all of the topics are going to apply to everyone. It’s informational without being dry and boring. There is also information here for the man you are trying to conceive with. I especially appreciated that the book acknowledged th ...more
Ashley Katsuyama
A great book if you are having trouble getting pregnant, or are just super crazy (like myself) and want as much information as you can get upfront. There are a number of things that the book and your doctors suggest you start doing months before you even start trying to conceive, and this book does a great job of laying all of that out. However, this can feel extremely overwhelming and the majority of it is not entirely necessary unless you are under trying circumstances.
Mar 22, 2015 Maria rated it did not like it
Some useful information, but overall, patronizing and full of gender stereotyping.
Feb 18, 2016 Steph rated it liked it
Wow, do I have mixed feelings about this book. I think I'd give it closer to 2.5 stars. At one point I just stopped reading it because the call-out sections for men and some of the rhetoric towards women are kind of gross. I understand the author tried updating this for the 21st century recently (minimal acknowledgement of non-heterosexuality, for example) but there is a *lot* more work to be done. On the other hand, after looking at several other books, this one did have a lot of useful informa ...more
Feb 24, 2010 Nikki rated it it was ok
I didn't find anything in this book that I couldn't find easily online. Maybe it would be good for someone who doesn't live a relatively healthy life, but generally I was VERY happy I had checked this out of the library rather than spent any money on it.
Ashley Mcleod
Mar 13, 2014 Ashley Mcleod rated it it was ok
The painful writing style makes it so hard to take anything the author says seriously. Furthermore, she emphasizes the importance of each point, and then in the summary at the end of each small section turns around and says something along the lines of "but either way is ok, it's up to you!" It's as if she is so anxious to make everything overly positive, she will sacrifice the point she just made.

Possibly worth reading for those completely in the dark on all things conception, or who need their
Kristy Gray
Aug 11, 2013 Kristy Gray rated it it was amazing
Gives a lot of advice! I enjoyed this book!
Denise Satterfield
Sep 30, 2012 Denise Satterfield rated it liked it
Reading up on the next steps in life.....
May 12, 2015 Shanna rated it really liked it
I'm not expecting, but I wanted to read this book to know what I need to prepare for if decide to go that route one day. I found it to be an extremely helpful guide to all of the peaks and valleys that may come with expecting. I also realized that maybe I really don't know as much about the birds and the bees as I thought I did. Though sometimes I felt the exposition lingered longer than it needed to (perhaps to be able to make it officially a book), I was able to skim and glean the information ...more
Aug 08, 2013 Bonnie rated it it was ok
It's a PG-rated book ("baby dancing"?) that gets some things wrong (BMI is the most important indicator of your physical fitness), some things right (quit smoking), and who the heck knows on the other stuff, because the references in this book are nonexistent. It doesn't even reliably say which bits of information are actually scientifically proven and which are untested/assumed/old wives' tales. The message I got from this book was: here's a giant, simplified overview of all the preconception a ...more
Pamela D
Jul 03, 2013 Pamela D rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I decided to read What to Expect Before You're Expecting both to scare me into putting off having a baby and to get me mentally prepared for what needs to happen to have a baby. Because my husband and I are not planning on having a baby in the next few months, I am going to have to reread this book, because everything went in one ear and out the other. This is partly my fault, but also partly the fault of the book. The information always seemed either too detailed (so it was overwhelming to memo ...more
Lynda Beck
Jan 09, 2011 Lynda Beck rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
This book had some helpful information in it. It talked about BMI and how it can affect your pregnancy and the vitamins you should be taking to get your body in tip top shape. It mentioned how important it is to get any necessary dental work done before getting pregnant, and touched on finances. Then there was a lot of biological information, a lot of which I already knew and a lot of which I didn't. All very helpful, all in the first half of the book. The second half of the book deals mostly wi ...more
Jul 25, 2014 Erika rated it did not like it
Shelves: references
As with many of the 'what to expect' series, there's some basic info in here, but anyone who is even minimally all on-the-ball about general health is not going to find any new information here, and it's written in a dumbed down way. Some readers have called this 'patronizing'...I just thought it was boring for what should be an exciting and inspirational topic, in my opinion! I'm staying away from this series after too many disappointing reads.
Apr 17, 2014 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
To be honest, this book is utterly pointless. If you're actively TTC, what you need is Taking Charge of Your Fertility. If you just want some advice on pre-conception health, you can actually get that from the first chapter of the regular What To Expect, or most pregnancy books. And if you're not trying/not preventing, the advice can probably be summed up as "take a prenatal vitamin, don't do drugs, try to be at a healthy weight".
Edith G.
Jun 02, 2014 Edith G. rated it did not like it
I was expecting something completely different. I have been trying to get as much information on this subject for the future and this book didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know. Don't Smoke, don't drink, consult your doctor for this, and this, and this. I learned all this in my Child Development class in HS or by searching it on Google :O . I wouldn't recommend this book to any of my TTC friends. -_-
Feb 17, 2010 Nikki rated it it was amazing
Very informative book. Also loved the writing style: down to earth with a good balance of lightheartedness. Has pertinent info for men and women (though, of course, mainly geared towards women). I read Part 1 (Getting Ready to Make a Baby) and Part 2 (Making a Baby). The first section includes preparing yourself physically (losing weight, changing diet). The second section reviews all the basic bio stuff we all learned in middle school (and if you're like me, you'd forgotten a lot of the details ...more
This book was a bit overwhelming with all of its information. So much to do, so much to track, so much to mess up. And to read that your odds of conceiving in a given month is only 15% is a bit depressing.\nI only scanned the trouble conceiving and miscarriage chapters. I dont even want to think about that at this point.\nI think this book is a decent resource.\n ...more
Feb 13, 2014 Janel rated it liked it
I didn't know much of anything about pre-conception plans, so I did learn some new things from this book. It was a bit repetitive, though, and focused a third of the book on fertility issues (a very important issue concerning pre-conception, but not what I was looking for at this time). I only think this would help those ladies who are clueless as me before they begin trying.
Sarah T.
Jul 14, 2015 Sarah T. rated it really liked it
This book's a classic - yes, there are things you've probably heard a million times, but there are other things that were very helpful. It's a good resource for, well, "What to Expect" while you count down the months til your baby arrives. There's even a section just for your spouse/partner, so they can know what's about to hit them too.
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Heidi Murkoff is the author of the What to Expect series and author of Eating Well When You're Expecting, The What to Expect Pregnancy Journal & Organizer, What to Expect the First Year, The What to Expect Baby-Sitter's Handbook, and the What to Expect Kids series from HarperCollins. Her interactive website is, and she lives with her family in Los Angeles, California. ...more
More about Heidi Murkoff...

Other Books in the Series

What to Expect (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • What to Expect the First Year (What to Expect)
  • What to Expect When You're Expecting
  • What to Expect the Toddler Years
  • What to Expect at Preschool
  • What to Expect: Eating Well When You're Expecting
  • What to Expect at Bedtime
  • What to Expect Gift Set
  • What to Expect Baby-Sitter's Handbook
  • What To Expect Pregnancy Planner
  • What to Expect When You're Expecting Pregnancy Organizer

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“Booze and Your Boys Hoping to toast some big baby news soon? You might want to consider swapping your accustomed toasting beverage before that big news even comes through, or cutting back on how many toasts you make during conception season. Too much alcohol (as you may have been dismayed to discover at one point or another) can impair a guy’s sexual function—a function you’re now counting on. But worse than that, research indicates that daily heavy drinking can damage sperm as well as reduce their number (in some men, even one or two beers or glasses of wine is enough to temporarily keep the boys down). Too many rounds on a regular basis can also alter testicular function and reduce testosterone levels (not a good scenario when you’re trying to make a baby). Heavy drinking (equivalent to two drinks a day or five drinks in one sitting even once a month) by the dad-to-be during the month prior to conception could also affect your baby’s birthweight. So for best baby-making results, your best bet is to drink only occasionally and lightly—or” 0 likes
“Your Workout and the Baby Race” 0 likes
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