Christine Hill's Pregnancy Guide (Book Review)

by - Wednesday, June 03, 2009

These days we are awed by the sheer number of books available to us, and it's difficult to choose something relevant to our needs. As parents, we are limited in the time we can spend reading, and as frugal families we cannot afford to spend on books we may later find irrelevant. So each Wednesday, I aim to review a book on a range of subjects from parenting guides to home-making, fashion/beauty and cookbooks which are most relevant for fabulous, frugal mums!

Are you pregnant or planning a baby? Perhaps you know someone who is?

Chances are, if you're expecting a baby you'd appreciate some sound and down-to-earth advice about what to expect though those nine months and how to adapt to the many changes you'll experience.

This is where Christine Hill's incredibly useful guide comes into play...

A Bit About Christine Hill

A physiotherapist with a postgraduate degree in paediatrics and obstetrics, Christine has worked all her life with mothers and babies. She is one of London's most sought after pregnancy and ante-natal gurus who has attended more than 5000 mothers during her career.

Most importantly she is also a mother, having given birth to three (now grown up) children. Drawing upon her professional and personal experiences she has produced this guide to offer realistic advice for expectant mothers in regard to the subjects we'd really like to know more about!

"This is a book about you"

As Christine states in the introduction:
Unlike other pregnancy books, this book is about you - managing a pregnant life and giving birth - rather than about the miracle of your developing baby.
From the very start, it is apparent that this book is unlikely to be anything like any other pregnancy guide you may have read. Christine gets straight to the point, presenting her advice in a straightforward and easy to understand manner, covering those aspects of pregnancy which we would really like to know about but are often afraid to ask.

Even sensitive subjects such as our natural (and often unexpected) feelings upon discovering we are pregnant and how to deal with haemorrhoids are covered in this guide, alongside practical advice about how we should look after ourselves (both physically and mentally), and where we can turn for support when we need it.

Practical, Reassuring Advice

While reading through this Pregnancy Guide, I virtually felt as though a medically qualified best friend had written this book for me.

This guide is unlike any other pregnancy book I have encountered: it offers the truth about pregnancy, the good and bad aspects of this experience, and through it all this guide manages to reassure us that all we experience through these nine months of change is perfectly normal.

For example, Chapter 3 covers Antenatal Care and (possible) Medical Problems, including details of all tests we may ge given as expectant mothers. At no point does this chapter lapse into unintelligable medical jargon! Throughout the information is provided in a friendly, easily digestible manner which undoubtedly reassures us about all aspects of potential medical issues with our pregnancies.

Those of you who are already mothers may - like me - have felt confused and overwhelmed at times during ante-natal sessions when it seems even the most sympathetic midwives can become tongue tied when explaining medical issues to the uninitiated! I personally learned far more from this book than through either of my pregnancies, because everything explained is so darn easy to understand!

What is Covered in this Guide?

Christine Hill's Pregnancy Guide is divided into 14 chapters, which are organized (as Christine states in the introduction) in "loose chronological order".

Beginning with an overview of immediate issues relevant for anyone who has just discovered they are pregnant, through to an explanation of what to expect during labour and the birth of your baby, these chapters explain everything you need - and want - to know about through the varing stages of pregnancy. However, there are certain issues we like to be aware of early on, such as possible complications and organizing ourselves in plenty of time before baby arrives. These are dealt with in earlier chapters than may be expected, intended to help us prepare for the unexpected while retaining a sense of control through knowledge.

Here is a brief explanation of chapters covered in this guide:

Introduction: I'm pregnant for the first time. Help!

This introductory chapter offers calm and reassuring advice for those who have just discovered their pregnancy and are dealing with emotional issues of their change in physical circumstance.

Chapter 1: Immediate Issues

In this chapter, we are presented with practical advice such as working out for sure when baby is due and making important decisions about the future.

Chapter 2: Birth Issues

Here we are presented with considerations for the birth and antenatal care, some of which need to be acknowledged very early on in our pregnancies.

Chapter 3: Antenatal Care and Medical Problems

This chapter offers an overview of the different types of antenatal care we can consider, plus information about all the different medical tests and possible medical problems we may encounter throuh pregnancy with honest and clear advice.

Chapter 4: Work Issues

Christine understands the issues working women face when discovering they are pregnant. From advice about when to inform superioirs and colleagues of our pregnancy to learning how to dress to accomodate our changing shapes, this section covers anything and everything you may like to know about work when expecting a baby.

Chapter 5: Getting Organized

Making preparations for the new baby is a key aspect of most expectant mother's concerns. In this chapter, we learn about the things we really need to buy for our babies; deciding whether or not to breastfeed, and how to find someone who will look after us (enabling us to concentrate on our new-found duties as a mum).

Chapter 6: Thinking Ahead about Labour

Rather than be blissfully inorant of what to expect during labour, Christine encourages us to consider what will happen, and how we can deal with labour well in advance of the occasion.

Chapter 7: Well Meant Advice (and Dire Warnings!)

As any mother will explain, when pregnant we are offered advice from every corner of our world (friends, family, and even strangers in the supermarket!). This chapter helps dispel unnescessary concerns, and offers clear informed advice about how we should conduct ourselves with regard to health through pregnancy months.

Chapter 8: Muscles and Bones

The most drastic changes to our bodies during pregnancy are to our muscles and pelvic region. Christine offers explanations of these changes, with practical information to ensure our pregnancies are more comfortable (and less physically damaging) such as pelvic floor exercises and safe practise for lifting heavy objects.

Chapter 9: Pregnancy Related Irritations and Changes in Your Body

The physical changes we experience through pregnancy affect us in many ways. From sickness to sleeplessness and everything between, this chapter explains what can happen, why it happens, and how best to deal with the discomforts of pregnancy.

Chapter 10: Last Lap of Pregnancy

Those last few weeks before baby is born are a time when expectant mums feel at their lowest ebb. This chapter acknowledges our feelings, sensations of tiredness and discomfort, and helps us prepare both emotionally and practically for the imminent birth of our babies.

Chapter 11: How Labour Begins

This chapter offers information of what to expect during those first stages of labour, and what we can do at home to soothe and prepare ourselves for the birth.

Chapter 12: Labour Continues... And Possible Pain Relief

Here Christine presents concise information about possible pain relief, including the pros and cons for each of the different methods available to us.

Chapter 13: Second Stage - The Actual Birth

In this chapter we are presented with reassuring advice about both vaginal and caesarean deliveries, including what we can expect and the aftermath of birth.

Chapter 14: Fathers

This chapter is specifically aimed at fathers whose wife or partner is soon to be giving birth, and covers issues such as arranging paternity leave, helping mums through pregnancy and labour, and how to organize the home after the birth.

Conclusion: You as a New Mother

This short final chapter addresses concerns many new mums experience soon after their baby is born, again reassuring mums that their feelings are entirely normal and supplemented with advice to help everything run more smoothly.

What I love most about this book

By presenting advice in a manner which is friendly but straightforward, Christine cuts through the fog of information overload. She is adamant from the start that we should always keep an open mind throughout the course of our pregnancies. Rather than prescribe a course of action and experience every woman should follow, she offers advice and information that enables us to make choices that are particularly relevant for our individual needs.

Facts and figures are quoted often throughout this guide, which was an aspect of reading I did not expect. Unusually, this does not make us feel that we are numbers in a system: contextually these numbers are extremely reassuring. By providing facts in a friendly manner this enables us to feel we are not alone in our experience of issues relating to pregnancy and our experiences of childbirth. Such information provide details of what we would like to know, but may not understand how to ask questions to receive the answers we seek.

I particularly enjoyed reading through Chapter 3 (regarding antenatal care and possible medical conditions) because this section offered clear and easy to digest information which I personally felt was lacking in my experience of both pregnancies. I truly appreciate how Christine deals with issues which many women are frightened or nervous to acknowledge in a friendly yet professional manner.

Final Thoughts on Christine Hill's Pregnancy Guide

When I was first offered Christine Hill's Pregnancy Guide for review, I must admit I was a little apprehensive about my possible enjoyment of this book. I'm already a mum (having experienced two very different pregnancies) and was very curious to find out what this guide could offer that I didn't already know.

Any concerns were dispelled upon reading only the introduction. Christine Hill's tone is more like that of a best friend, one who explains the truth about pregnancy, and who approaches the subject in a manner absent from other pregnancy books I have read: she answers all the questions which are truly relevant for expectant mums!

This is not a book which will explain every detail of the stages of pregnancy and how your baby develops through each month; nor is this a book filled with medical jargon which causes us to have more questions for our midwives than before we had started. Instead, this book could well be the most important and informative guide you could hope to read through your pregnancy, whether you are expecting your first child or your fourth!

Christine Hill's Pregnancy Guide will be published by Vermillion on the 11th of June and is currently available for pre-order from

Stay tuned for details of a forthcoming competition where you could win your own copy of this excellent and informative book!

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