Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Story Behind The Real Deal Guide to Pregnancy

by Erika Lenkert

When I got pregnant I bought tons of pregnancy books, but I quickly discovered that reading guides that told me how my pregnancy was supposed to be only made me worry or feel bad about myself when my experience didn’t follow their outlines. (Case in point: Learning that I was supposed to gain between 0 and 5 pounds during the first trimester didn’t stop me from packing on a cuddly 10 pounds. It only made me resent the book that inadvertently told me I was doing it wrong.) Additionally, the tomes including every possible worst-case-scenario did little more than make me bite my nails over the worrisome “what ifs”—which seemed pointless since no woman should self-diagnose anyway and what we really need are ways to make our pregnancies calmer and more positive, not more stressful!

The books I enjoyed reading were the upbeat, funny books. But most of them lacked depth and hardworking information, or touched on them only lightly.

So, I wrote the book I wanted to read. The Real Deal Guide to Pregnancy focuses on the reality of pregnancy, as experienced by today’s women, and real-life ways to make the most of it.

The tone is extremely sassy and playful. After all, what pregnant woman doesn’t need help seeing the joke in becoming a walking condo for one or more very special sub-letters? It outlines real-life gestation experiences in an honest and open—not clinical, judgmental, or paranoid—way. It also offers extremely useful information on everything to help women through the three trimesters safely, healthily, and proactively.

In creating the book I strayed from the standard by-trimester format and instead organized chapters by topic. I wrote it this way because I don’t believe there is such a thing as “normal” when it comes to pregnancy. Each and every one is unique to the mother and her baby-to-be. Thus, if women are like me and don’t experience morning sickness in the first trimester, they won’t pause at the first chapter and worry that something is wrong.

With this book, readers get quick information on what they need to know immediately after finding out they are pregnant. From there, they can turn to the table of contents to easily access whatever subject is paramount for them at the time—whether it’s medical details, nutrition, sleep, moodiness, remedies to common ailments, exercise, sex, self-esteem, relationships, shopping, baby preparedness, the best online resources, or what the heck to do when you bring that wrinkly new bundle of joy home.

But what I think makes The Real Deal Guide really stand out is its lighthearted, modern, and empathetic approach to the subject matter. Yes, I shamelessly detail all the wild and wacky elements that I experienced (think weight gain, body backfires, and relationship and sex sagas). But equally revealing are the confessions offered by 111 very brave and honest mothers that I interviewed while writing this book. These women provide widely diverse perspectives, laugh-out-loud true tales, and jaw-dropping secrets usually shared in a whisper, if at all. Their contributions result in infinite ways to compare and contrast each pregnancy experience with that of others—which is something I think every pregnant woman can truly appreciate.

Take the issues of weight and food for example. If you want knowledge and sympathy as you go into unfamiliar pound-toting territory, you will find much more than industry-wide weight-gain and nutritional recommendations. You’ll get a list of standard “no-nos”—with explanations so you can decide for yourself whether you feel comfortable eating sushi or sipping a glass of wine every now and then—and concrete information on how to eat for optimum mom and baby health. You’ll get to see how your cravings rank with those of other pregnant women, read a week-by-week expose on how I tacked on 32% of my original body weight before heading to the maternity ward, and even find a mind-easing chart showcasing how only 44% of the women polled landed within the 25- to 35-pound weight-gain sweet spot.

I also list the top 10 creepiest elements of pregnancy, the best places to shop for everything, the most popular brands of maternity jeans, and revealing statistics on how many women felt supported by their husbands, loved or hated sex during pregnancy; and felt fabulous or frumpy during gestation.

There are far too many nuances to this book to aptly describe all that the pregnant woman will find within its pages. But I do believe that with the wisdom of 111 mothers and the most intimate details of what I wanted to know when I was pregnant, the guide is truly the real deal.

Most important to me, however, is that it enables each pregnant woman to embrace and celebrate her unique experience, treat herself during this special time, and confidently ride out the trimesters…even if she has to do it while gagging over the toilet bowl or wincing over yet another pregnancy-related headache.

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