* Prices may differ from that shown
Men can sometimes feel a little excluded from the whole process of pregnancy. Everyone (quite rightly) fusses over the health of the mum-to-be whilst the poor old father gets side-lined. Despite the fact that having a baby is a life-changing experience for both partners, almost all the information is geared towards telling the woman what to expect; the man is pretty much left to fend for himself and just expected to pick things up as he goes along.
Jon Smith's Bloke's Guide to Pregnancy seeks to redress that balance by giving men the information they need in one handy volume. The book comes from his own personal experiences of becoming a father for the first time, as well as those of other first-time fathers that he interviewed when writing the book.
It's probably fair to say that most men would not welcome a serious, academic tome on pregnancy. Recognising this, Smith adopts a jokier, more jovial approach. This makes the book quite a lot of fun to read and there were several entries that really made me laugh out loud. The "blokey" tone of the book can become a bit too much at times (it rather stereotypes all men as being interested only in football and going to the pub), but most of the time Smith stays the right side of the line.
Just because it's funny, though, don't write it off as useless. Smith is aware that the main purpose of the book is to provide confused dads-to-be with the information they are going to need. It's a purpose the book fulfils well. Amidst the humorous asides, the book is packed with some genuinely useful stuff. He covers all aspects of the whole pregnancy journey - from the first time you hear those magical words "I'm pregnant" through to the realities of suddenly being responsible for a screaming, purple-faced bundle. There were many, many times when a doctor or nurse mentioned something and I was able to nod my head knowledgeably because I had read about it in this book. It was also far more informative and valuable (and a heck of a lot cheaper) than the excruciating NCT classes I attended.
The book is easy to read and arranged in a logical fashion. There are different chapters covering various aspects of the pregnancy - the three main trimesters, the actual birth and looking after baby once it has been born. This means that you can read the book in chunks. Personally, I found a helpful approach was to read each section either as you entered phase, or just before. This helped to give you an idea of what to expect and whether what you were feeling and experiencing was normal.
Within these separate chapters, the book is split down into brief, almost diary like entries. These are relatively short (typically just a couple of paragraphs) but focus on a specific aspect and are generally informative and entertaining to read. Thanks to Smith's style, you will not object to reading this book and (although you would never admit it), you may even actually enjoy it at times.
A real strength is the focus on many different elements of the pregnancy. It covers physical aspects and emotional ones. Crucially (and this is where most literature falls down), it considers BOTH partners. It points out that most men will experience different and changing emotions throughout the pregnancy, but also underlines the very real physical and psychological changes the mum will go through and helps you to understand them better. After reading this, I certainly found I had a far better understanding of what Mrs SWSt was going through than I did from any amount of leaflets provided by the midwife.
There can be times when Smith goes a little overboard (sometimes this is the result of the over-exuberant humour; occasionally down to other factors). The book can also be a little scary to read as it goes into all the things that can possibly go wrong during the pregnancy, which can lead to some unnecessary worries. Having said that, when Mrs SWSt had to have an emergency caesarean, I felt at least vaguely prepared for it, thanks to what I'd read here.
Overall, Smith's book addresses a real gap in the market. It gives fathers to be the information they need in an entertaining and easily digestible form. It will reassure you that the emotions you experience throughout the nine month journey and beyond are perfectly normal, and give you a good understanding of what your partner is experiencing - making you better placed to support her.
The book is available on Kindle for around a fiver or in paperback for about £7 (copies can be picked up slightly cheaper second hand). If you are going to become a dad soon and want to be better informed about the whole process without wading through lots of pompous mum-centric text, then this book is for you.
The Bloke's Guide to Pregnancy
Hay House, 2004
© Copyright SWSt 2014
My partner bought me this book recently to help me understand what will happen to her body and mind during her pregnancy, I have to admit, I love beer, football and boxing, as well as console games, but wouldn't consider myself a bloke, so the title immediately brings about the wrong connotations in my head, I hoped it would be a book aimed at all men rather than simply those who would have to appreciate that lads nights out and all night Call of Duty Sessions would have to be rationed.
Being totally honest, I found the book a mixed bag, it has some incredibly useful bits of advice from a man's perspective, but these are mixed with some fairly common sense bits which have been well researched.
The first time I read the book in the first few months of pregnancy I found it a bit patronising, but further on, a lot of the stuff is making much more sense during these nervous times, but is still off tone and written from his own perspective only. I The book is written in small blocks of comments under headings to make it easier to refer to, these can range from what drugs are best for a woman to take during birth, to how you will have to pare down visits to the pub, once the baby is born.
The book started badly for me, there are so many mentions of the word 'Bloke' in the first ten pages that it feels forced and as though its trying to fit in with Loaded magazines view of the world, thankfully things calm down a bit and the research and thought put into the book come through. Also the book talks about how the writer felt nervous and a bit let down when he found out his partner was pregnant, we've been trying for over a year and this is an incredible experience for us both, so I couldn't relate to this at all, nor the constant negativity, whilst pregnancy is hard and the experience has its tough times, my partner and I are thankful for it and enjoying every new experience together. This books seeks to seperate men from women and try to make the issue relatable only to men who perhaps weren't expecting or wanting this situation.
Sections range from descriptions of all three trimesters and the birth, to how the baby situation will affect your money, your sex life and your whole world.
The book has been researched, I wouldn't say its as good as some of my partners pregnancy books or websites like mumsnet or babycenter.com, but it has been researched to a point, although at times it feels like this 'bloke' sat down the pub asking for his mates experiences. The writing style is at times welcoming, but at others a bit annoying and too matey, it feels as though the writer grew up when Loaded and FHM were really popular magazines and Tony Parsons was pretending to be a bloke with feelings below his gruff (A-hem) exterior.
A lot of the advice is either common sense or not stuff I feel I really need to know, I thoroughly appreciate that I need to be a part of the process and didn't need a book to explain that, or that my partners hormones might change. I was also really disappointed in the financial section, which talks about the problems you might experience and offers a range of websites and people to call in the back pages, unfortunately when you turn to the back pages, there is nothing relating to finances, purely medical help, therefore this oversight proved a real pain for me and I would downmark the book on this, as the financial advice offered doesn't make too much sense without the referrals mentioned.
The book is fine, but it won't help you through the process, i've been reading pregnancy A-Z's and handbooks which we bought for my partner that give more information about the process for my partner and the baby, both make more sense to me and give more practical information.
This book is just a light, light-hearted oversight into what it is to be a dad, it is useful in the odd parts, but overall it hasn't really helped me at all, and I won't be referring back to it in the future either. I hoped it would be more useful in referring to issues that men would think of, but the small sections is also its downfall as it only offers brief pen pictures of things, so even if you find a section interesting, one paragraph just simply doesn't give you enough information to learn much.
Overall I would recommend this as social reading, you might learn a thing or two, but this feels like a cash-in on the male, bloke market, pointing at the clueless and easily bored, rather than offering any stirring insights into what it is to be a dad.
Reading that one man struggled with nappies isn't enough, how did he struggle, can diagrams and step by step explanations be provided, no but we do find out that the writer eventually worked it out and then his personal best times for changing one, the book is more biographical than useful in parts and much the worse for it.
One solution to buying all baby stuff from Prams and cots to clothes and everything else, is that there won't be much left to buy after family and friends help out, all good stuff, unless that doesn't happen, and this is the big problem, what works for the writer isn't exactly what happens to us normal people who have family and friends struggling to get by and needing to preserve cash to look after their own homes and kids, this is life from the perspective of a writer already living in a nice 3 bed house wondering if that is enough space for a new arrival, a situation most of us first time parents would love to experience.
The jargon buster at the end is facile and really is aimed at laughs more than helping, the language is too matey for my liking and overall I really didn't get too much from this book other than mild annoyance at its flaws. The book is patronising and the picture on the back of a tubby chap with a football and teddy bear really sum it up for me, I don't need to know how to be me, I simply want to understand what my partner and baby are going through, not have to read that even 'blokes' cry when a baby is born....really!!!
Available for £5.09 on Amazon, it is a paperback with around 256 pages, apparently there are also books in the series on 'Getting Hitched', 'Surviving Pregnancy', 'Babies' and 'Baby Gadgets'. I would suggest only buy these if you really like this book, the idea behind this is well intentioned, but unfortunately the presentation seems to be aimed at some breed of men created by the media 15 years ago to put two fingers up at the development of women's rights.
If anyone has any tips for better books about the pregnancy experience, I would love to hear them to try these out. Thank you.
I bought this for my husband to read, as although this is my 3rd baby, it will be his first so it was all new to him, and at first not thinking, I mistakenly had this notion in my head that he would totally understand (as if through telepathy) what i was feeling , and what my body was going through, especially when the morning sickness kicked in . I just could not understand why after the innitial excitement of finding out we were pregnant, he seemed to close off and go into himself.
This book helped alot (and still is helping) in a very funny, humourous and unique way, it helped him understand the who concept of pregnancy, and funnily enough i decied to take a sneek peek when he was out and could not put it down, it had me laughing, and nodding in places thinking, "Oh my God that is me". But more importantly it helped me understand my husbands fears and worries about becoming a dad for the first time. It really opened up my eyes, to what he was feeling and thinking too.
This book does not preach, nor is it like the average pregnancy guide you pick up in any book store that seems to tell you all the wonderful stuff, and has an after thought chapter about dads at the back.
This is a no nonsense, tell it how it is book, which i would highly recommend, not just to men, but for women too, to have a greater understanding of the problems and worries men face when they find out there partner is pregnant.
The book has chapters which deal with the financial side of pregnancy, through to sex (or the lack there of it) and right throught to the birth, and beyond. Brilliant!