Part of my goal with the Balancing Life as a Mom blog is to help you vet out products that are heavily advertised to moms. As any mom knows, advertisers are constantly appealing to our innate desire to take the best possible care of our children – regardless of the cost. I myself had limited exposure to younger children when I was growing up, so I really had no idea what was truly necessary and what wasn’t. (Fun fact – the first diaper I’d ever changed in my entire life was for my son! Talk about starting out with ZERO knowledge base.)
Regardless, given my obsession with being organized and wanting to minimize the clutter in my life, I made a pact with myself from the beginning that I wasn’t going to let all that marketing get to me, and that I wasn’t going to be buying my child every new thing out there just because I thought it would be good for them. If you think about it, children have been raised for thousands of years without owning all the latest and greatest gadgets, and I would say that the majority of people have turned out just fine.
So my ruthless obsession with minimizing the clutter was turned onto all things baby. However, I have learned that babies and children do come with stuff – and lots of it. Some of it is absolutely necessary, some is just nice to have, and some is really overkill. So I want to share what I’ve learned with you in the hopes that you can keep more of your hard earned dollars to spend on what you really should be spending it on. This way you can avoid buying every must-have object that you come across (you know those ones that you regret spending money on later when it just collects dust after a few weeks or months of use).
In this category of blog posts you’ll find products that I’ve personally tried and deemed generally worthy of your time and money. Just like all parenting tips, not every recommendation will be worthwhile for every person, so be sure to read the full review before committing to a purchase to be sure that the product is right for you and your needs. But I hope to give you a great overview of my opinion of the product, and what I found most helpful or unhelpful. And if you like these reviews and would like to check out more of them, feel free to click on the Reviews & Recommendations link in the Categories sidebar on the right side of your screen (found on the bottom for mobile users). This will bring you to all the reviews I’ve done so far, and you can sort through by title to see what interests you most.
**Please note, this review refers to the Kindle version of the book, copyright 2009.
Ahhhh, the famous What to Expect series. As a first-time mom, and really a first time anything to a small child, I was completely freaking out at the possibility of starting a family with my husband. I knew having a family was always something in my life plan, but as I said above, I had limited to no experience with children younger than me growing up. I was the youngest in my immediate family, didn’t have any younger cousins that lived nearby, and rarely babysat. All my friends were either my age or older. To say I was clueless when it came to infants and children in general was an understatement. My experience with children really only extended to the fact that I was one at one time.
My husband had a similar situation. He is the oldest of two boys in his immediate family, and he did have younger cousins, but the responsibility of taking care of his brother or cousins never fell to him. He has a really strong family network, and the grandparents and aunts/uncles were always available. So even though we are both intelligent and common-sense people, I couldn’t really rely on him to guide me in this process.
So I did what any studious, nerdy, book-worm would do: find books to teach me what I needed to know. And pretty much any book search will lead you to this famous series. Since I’m the ultimate plan ahead person, I had to start out reading the prep guide before we even started to consider conceiving.
Now I’ve read this book twice, once before conception for each pregnancy. I didn’t find it particularly difficult to understand or follow, and honestly, I found a lot of it to be common sense. However, I did remember there were a few useful nuggets I learned from the first reading, and that prompted the second read through to ensure I followed all the dos and don’ts before we conceived my daughter.
In the book, Murkoff covers what you need to prep (especially getting your overall health and weight in check) and making sure that nutritionally you are stocked up with what you need. She covers the basics of figuring out the best times to try and conceive based on your own ovulation schedule. She also covers what to do in case you have trouble conceiving or if you lose a baby.
Now, if you are into basic health and fitness like I am (exercise routinely, eat and understand a healthy diet, don’t smoke or do drugs, don’t drink much, get routine physical checkups with your doctor), then a lot of what she shares with the nutritional and prepping aspects will be old hat to you. However, it was great to be reminded of a few important points:
- You really want to give your body about 3 months to get baby-ready and stock up nutritionally on certain key vitamins/minerals (she’ll give you a list).
- There are certain medications (Rx and OTC), foods, and beverages which need to be avoided during the conception and pregnancy phases. Not all of these things were obvious to me, and unfortunately were not covered by my OBGYN office until I was almost done with my first trimester – which in my opinion is a little too late to be telling you what you should and shouldn’t be putting into your body.
- There are certain other medical procedures and professionals that will be green lighted during pregnancy, and others that you’ll have to avoid. She lists them all out so that you know what to tackle ahead of time before conception and what you have to wait on till baby is finally born. (Think dentist appointments, spa treatments, hair coloring, skin care products, dangerous work conditions, etc.). Granted this type of preparation is ultimately your decision, but for someone like me who wanted to be super careful during pregnancy, this advice was great at getting me thinking about things I wouldn’t have considered otherwise.
- She also tells you what your husband needs to brush up on before trying to conceive. Fertility goes both ways after all. Luckily my husband can be more of a health nut than I am (great for trying to conceive, not always great when trying to just let loose and enjoy life a little).
- Lastly, I did enjoy the section on financial planning for a new baby. It was something I knew I needed to do, but it was nice to know exactly which areas of the financial picture I needed to hone in on.
I did read the entire book, even thought a lot of it didn’t apply to my situation. My husband and I were blessed enough to have no conception issues (both pregnancies happened the first month we tried), so the ovulation, fertility and “troubleshooting” sections weren’t really applicable. However, the information inside was really comprehensive and interesting, and if I had found myself in those situations, would have likely been very helpful and reassuring.
Overall, I do recommend this book, especially to a first-time mom who hasn’t been through pregnancy yet and is worried about the unknown or doing something wrong. Or if you are like me (super organized and you like to plan out as much of your life as possible) this will help reassure that you are doing everything right, in the correct time frame, to keep you and your expanding family healthy.
If you’d like to purchase this book, you can follow my affiliate link to find it on Amazon: What to Expect Before You’re Expecting: The Complete Preconception Plan by Heidi Murkoff. I hope it helps answer your pre-pregnancy questions, and best of luck to you if you are trying to conceive!
All the best,
Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with these products and I am recommending them because they are helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.