Expecting Better: Debunking Pregnancy Myths by Emily Oster- A Book Review

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Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by melissanreynolds

As a third time mama there are still things I need to learn and am curious about. I am still reading up on pregnancy, labour and newborns.

Affiliate notice please note that some of my links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase using one of these links I may make a small commission at no cost to you. 

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong- and what you really need to know by Emily Oster is my current favourite pregnancy book.


Pregnancy—unquestionably one of the most pro­found, meaningful experiences of adulthood—can reduce otherwise intelligent women to, well, babies. We’re told to avoid cold cuts, sushi, alcohol, and coffee, but aren’t told why these are forbidden. Rules for prenatal testing are hard and fast—and unexplained. Are these recommendations even correct? Are all of them right for every mom-to-be? In Expecting Better, award-winning economist Emily Oster proves that pregnancy rules are often misguided and sometimes flat-out wrong.

A mom-to-be herself, Oster debunks the myths of pregnancy using her particular mode of critical thinking: economics, the study of how we get what we want. Oster knows that the value of anything—a home, an amniocentesis—is in the eyes of the informed beholder, and like any compli­cated endeavor, pregnancy is not a one-size-fits-all affair. And yet medicine often treats it as such. Are doctors working from bad data? Are well-meaning friends and family perpetuating false myths and raising unfounded concerns? Oster’s answer is yes, and often.

“Ive always been someone for whom knowing the data, knowing the evidence, is exactly what I need to chill out. It makes me feel comfortable and confident that I’m making rhe right choices.” Pxxi

I wholly agree with Oster. There were several things in this book that immediately made me feel much more comfortable. The coffee abstaining recommendation? Nonsense. Switching to decaf, no help at all. Up to three or four cups a day, according to well constructed research is absolutely fine.

She also discusses the research around medicine use in pregnancy. It was really helpful. In fact, it enabled me to feel comfortable with allowing myself to take something to help with the symphysis pubis disorder pain. She explained the rigorous process that occurs for a medicine to be categorised at B – therefore B is likely safe. She still gives us the information, happy for us to make our own choice.

It suits my personality to look into the research, including assessing the quality of the research. I love this. But as a currently pregnant woman with a job, two small children and a chronic illness, I really appreciated that she had done the work for me.

That is what I aim to do in my writing on this blog and in my books and courses. I collate the information and give my personal experience so you can make your decisions. So you can see how a book like this would appeal.

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This book was thoroughly researched and the writing was simultaneously clear and yet personal. Oster wondered and worried about these things too. From deli meats, to sleep position and epidurals – this book covers the major worries.

I wholly recommend this book to all women, pregnant or trying to conceive. Or even just those who are curious!

Get your copy here!

PS: Are you currently pregnant? Do you have a baby registry yet? I created mine through Amazon – a cloud based registry ensures you aren’t stuck to one shop in one location. I have managed to find products on Amazon that I just can’t get here in New Zealand, it has the best selection and discounts. You can create yours here. I shared what is on my registry in this post.

PPS. Did you know you can get a free trial of Audible on Amazon here. I’ve recently started reading a lot more audio books as the hands free option is far easier to access with the wee ones. You will get access to two audio books, plus two Audible Originals, and other cool membership options for 30 days. Cancel anytime if you don’t want the full subscription.

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