* Prices may differ from that shown
So far during my pregnancy, I have read quite a variety of relevant books - Vicki Iovine's Best Friend's Guide to Pregnancy, memoirs by Myleene Klass and Denise Van Outen, The Secret Diary of a New Mum Aged 43 ¼ by Cari Rosen plus dipping in and out of the Netmums book. I feel they have each enhanced my understanding of pregnancy and how things have all changed since I was pregnant back in the 1990s.
However, none of the books have been perfect. Some are too formal or starchy or preachy, others lack the little personal details I love and others are just too chatty with little substance. I was still on the hunt for the perfect pregnancy book. Having read Jools Oliver's Minus Nine to One - The Diary of an Honest Mum, I can say this book has come the closest to being exactly the kind of book I wanted to read.
First of all, let me explain something - I can't stand Jamie Oliver. I find him irritating beyond belief and will try to avoid any programmes he is on. Therefore, I knew very little about Jools before reading her book, only that she was his wife. I certainly wasn't a fan in any way. Having finished her book now though, while I'm certainly not going to sing Jamie's praises, I feel I know more about Jools and if we met, I'm sure she would be lovely. Besides, we could have a chat about pregnancy and babies.
That is just how this book feels - a friendly, gossipy, girlie chat with a mate. And it's brilliant, just the kind of book I was looking for! The bits I most enjoyed about Denise Van Outen's book were her diary entries, but there weren't enough of them, just a couple of pages each chapter. Minus Nine to One though is all written by Jools Oliver and you get a decent amount of content. The book is about 320 pages and of that, over 250 pages are Jools recounting her pregnancy days and her time as a mother of young daughters.
Afterwards, there are Appendices on food (perhaps unsurprisingly!) which include some recipes for toddlers, a glossary of terms used (the medical bit!), useful websites, a section on the baby equipment you will need (This is of particular interest to me at the moment, as we are buying stuff!), good places to buy baby clothes and a list of books Jools has found useful.
Jools has two daughters - Poppy and Daisy - and had them very close together, giving birth to Daisy when Poppy was just thirteen months old I can relate to this as my first four children are close in age too, with the smallest gap being fourteen months between my second and third. This baby will be my fifth, but there will be almost sixteen years between my fourth and this little one!
I really enjoyed reading this book, as Jools' writing style is chatty and direct and I liked how she "tells it as it is" without any sugar-coating. Nothing is idealised; she accepts pregnancies can be worrying and stressful and that labour and birth is usually painful. I found a lot I could emphathise with whilst reading this and I am sure pregnant women and mothers will find the same. I was also shocked at how the paparazzi treated Jools during her pregnancy and she seemed to handle the cameras and stalking journalists really well, but it's not the kind of added pressure you need!
The book is written chronologically and begins with the problems Jools had getting pregnant. Once she has managed to conceive, we follow her pregnancy to the birth of Poppy then continue to read about the two strands of her life - being a new mum to a baby, but also discovering she was pregnant again when Poppy was just four months old. The book ends when Daisy is eighteen months old and Poppy is 2 ½ so she explains the joys and not-quite-so-joyful bits of parenting two toddlers.
I enjoyed the book and happily read it all in order, but if you only wanted to read certain chapters, it would be easy to do, as each one is clearly labelled. The book is beautifully designed too from its pink girlie cover to its little roses dotted throughout. There are also loads of photos inside - not just the posed picture perfect portraits you expect from this kind of book, but also (and more frequently!) candid photos of Jools not looking her best. There's even a photo of her very close to the sink inbetween bouts of morning sickness! No-one could accuse this woman of being vain, that's for sure! Despite my dislike of Jamie Oliver, there are some lovely family photos in the book and it is obvious that however much of an idiot he may seem to be on television, he really loves his wife and daughters and there are some beautiful photos of them together.
There are plenty of useful practical tips in there too. Like Jools, I have been suffering from pregnancy rhinitis this time, where the increased hormones block your nose up and this makes it hard to breathe at night. I had just been coping as best I could, but Jools mentioned she had used Breathe Right nose strips during her pregnancy, so we bought some, tried them and yes, they really do work, so thanks Jools!
Every so often, there is the odd page printed in a handwritten font where Jools shares lists she made of various things. I have found these useful too. There are three pages (in tiny handwriting!) detailing how much stuff she packed in her labour bag. As this is something I am starting to organise myself, I found this useful and I know I'll have a tendency to over-pack, as Jools did. Helpfully, she has annotated on the list the items she used and the ones that turned out to be completely unnecessary. Later on in the book, she has a similar list of all she packed in Poppy's changing bag, again with notes as to which things were essential, useful and totally unnecessary.
I was really pleased with this book, as it seemed to tick every box in the list of what I wanted from this type of book. As it covers the first couple of years of bringing up a child too, I am sure I will refer to it later on as well. Although I have already had four children, it is a long time since they were babies and I'm sure I need a refresher course!
Jools Oliver's Minus Nine To One is a great read, beautifully presented, full of useful tips and information, but written in a wonderfully chatty and confiding style - all I could possibly want from this book. The RRP is £10.99 but I bought it from Amazon UK for £7.69.
A great read for any first time expectant Mother or indeed any Mother of a new baby. Oliver describes her journey to achieving a successful pregnancy in an honest, true to life manner. This biography is useful firstly in being that it allows the reader to relate to Oliver's experiences of first time Motherhood and subsequent challenges. However, in my opinion it comes into its own as a self help manual. It provide helpful tips on practical matters for instance pain relief during labour, routines (Oliver adapted some of Gina Ford's methods) and Oliver's opinions on what you do and don't need to buy for your baby. Furthermore, the recipe section at the back is a useful addition and I found this particularly helpful when I was making the transition from puree style meals to toddler style meals which could be enjoyed by the whole family. All in all, an interesting read and I look forward to any other subsequent parenting guides which Oliver may write in the future.
Jools Oliver - Minus Nine to One. I'm not generally one for books 'written' by celebrities, but I bought this, along with a couple of others in a moment of madness. Could it have been the pregnancy hormones?! Of the three 'celeb' books I bought, this was definitely the best. I've never been a fan of Jamie Oliver, but as I read this book, I found myself warming to Jools. Ok, she's married to a rich chef and lives in a nice house in London, but she actually strikes you as quite a down to Earth sort of girl and this feels like a pretty honest account of her pregnancies with their first 2 daughters, Poppy and Daisy. I really felt for her as she did seem to have a few problems, both with conceiving and morning sickness. There are also practical tips for coping through the first year and some good recipe suggestions, not really a surprise from the wife of a top chef!
I bought this book at the beginning of my journey down fertility treatment because I heard Jools had PCOS and it might have some useful information on it. Jools is Jamie Oliver's wife and mother to his now 3 girls. Don't buy this book for the same reason it isn't useful at all.
This book charts her 1st pregnancy, and life with a new baby and finding out she was pregnant again. The bulk of the book deals with how she has raised both girls - like a friend telling you the best way she found of feeding, disciplining etc. The descriptions of labour are useful to us first time mums, I won't go into too much detail lol. Unlike other baby books this isn't a guide but a story so some of it will really strike home (like how hard breastfeeding is).
Although I did enjoy reading the book. Who doesn't enjoy nosying in other people's lives? I did find the tone a little patronising at times, especially on the food front - I felt she was a little bit too controlled in this point.
There are some recipes in the book that Jools has used to feed her two girls and these are yum. My son loved the one or two I have tried on him so for those alone the book was worth it. She also gives lists of labour bag etc. what she did and what she really didn't need to pack. This made me laugh loads because I read that back after having my son and did the same packed far too much stuff!
An interesting read, some points will stick in your head (for me the description of feeling lonely at night feeds and having her spirit buoyed by text from friend also up feeding - can empathise with that one). And most of the worries us first time mums have are in this book.
Worth a read from the library but I wouldn't recommend buying it.