When I first opened this book, I was reminded of the textbooks I had in middle school health class. (Stay with me here.) Only because the very first chapter was devoted to the power of physical attraction, pheromones, the genetic code and how male and female reproductive parts work to make babies. It just reminded me of the sex ed classes from school. The version of the book that I read is from 2003 (fourth edition), but while I read this first chapter I felt like I was in 1994 (that was eight grade, in case you’re curious).
I think I also got the “textbook” vibe because this book is just so very factual. The author, Swedish MD Lars Hamberger, doesn’t lecture, he simply presents the “what’s what” about the entire reproductive process in a clear and concise manner. There’s only one page of “what not to do,” and it’s mostly standard stuff like staying away from alcohol, x-rays, stress, etc. Unlike some pregnancy books that seem to go on and on about how the teensiest little mistake could entirely mess up your baby (*cough* What to Expect *cough*), this book just focuses on your lovely developing embryo and fetus. Refreshing!
Aside from the objective writing, this book’s best feature has got to be the plethora of stunning color photographs by Lennart Nilsson. The one on the right here was Mr. Handsome’s favorite (“Look, that’s my sperm which has navigated through your hostile defense system and penetrated your sack of genetic code!” We watched The Great Sperm Race while we were trying. I seriously recommend that documentary to everyone of child-bearing age! You can find it on You Tube).
No where else but here can you see such vivid photos (that I know of, at least). They are what really make this book stand on its own. The only word of caution I would have is, if you have other children in the house, some of the images of delivery are a bit graphic and might just kinda freak out the kids a bit. Some images are great to share with the kids, especially older ones like my almost nine-year-old, but be selective. Don’t give them the book to browse at their leisure.
The only critique I would have is that the book does jump over some fairly large chunks of pregnancy time. The first trimester gets a lot of attention, which is probably good because that’s when couples have the most questions about what’s going on. After week 10 there’s not a lot of coverage until week 17, although in that span there is some explanation of the first prenatal care appointment, the womb environment and genetic testing options. But then there’s hardly anything discussed (mostly the importance of exercise and documentation of hand, feet, eye and ear development) until week 26 when there’s another “uterus check-in” and a few pages on premature birth. We don’t see much from there until another ute shot at week 36 and at that point you’re pretty much fully baked anyway! With the incredible quality of the photos, I only wish there were more.
Check this book out from your library if they have a copy. It’s great to see the photographs at least once. Once you’re given it a full perusal then decide if you feel like it’s worth purchasing. Especially if this is your only or last pregnancy.
Next Review: Belly Laughs