Expecting Better - Emily Oster

Expecting Better

By Emily Oster

  • Release Date: 2013-08-20
  • Genre: Health, Mind & Body
Score: 4.5
From 395 Ratings


“Emily Oster is the non-judgmental girlfriend holding our hand and guiding us through pregnancy and motherhood. She has done the work to get us the hard facts in a soft, understandable way.” —Amy Schumer

*Fully Revised and Updated for 2021*

What to Expect When You're Expecting meets Freakonomics: an award-winning economist disproves standard recommendations about pregnancy to empower women while they're expecting. From the author of Cribsheet and The Family Firm, a data-driven decision making guide to the early years of parenting

Pregnancy—unquestionably one of the most pro­found, meaningful experiences of adulthood—can reduce otherwise intelligent women to, well, babies. Pregnant women are told to avoid cold cuts, sushi, alcohol, and coffee without ever being told why these are forbidden. Rules for prenatal testing are similarly unexplained. Moms-to-be desperately want a resource that empowers them to make their own right choices.

When award-winning economist Emily Oster was a mom-to-be herself, she evaluated the data behind the accepted rules of pregnancy, and discovered that most are often misguided and some are just flat-out wrong. Debunking myths and explaining everything from the real effects of caffeine to the surprising dangers of gardening, Expecting Better is the book for every pregnant woman who wants to enjoy a healthy and relaxed pregnancy—and the occasional glass of wine.


  • Incredibly helpful

    By taramichelle07
    Data driven perspectives and personal anecdotes made this book insightful, interesting, and incredibly helpful.
  • Every pregnant (or aspiring) person should read this

    By sara.k.barz
    I’m so glad that I was able to read this book. Information and risk trade-offs have always made more sense to me than medical or behavioral rules. I really appreciate that Emily Oster has the skills and talent to apply the scrutiny of economics to medical research on pregnancy.
  • Doctor Bashing

    By LittleMissMaggie
    Coming from an OB perspective, this book is extremely disappointing. I felt every anecdote started with how much her own OB failed her. I’m addition, the Author made it sound like she wanted a statistical discussion on each and every talking point from her physician. Realistically, there’s just not time for that. Insurance allows each Ob visit to have about 5 mins. We are required to cover certain topics. It’s also important to remember the liability OBs have. For example, We can’t tell you there’s any safe amount of alcohol because if your baby ends up with FAS, we might get sued. Same with lunch meat and listeria. So I can’t say, “use your judgement”. In addition, it’s important to acknowledge that you are hiring your doctor to interpret the data themselves and make a recommendation based on their expertise. That’s what we go to medical school for. You should establish a trusting relationship with your OB, and that will allow you to trust that their recommendations reflect current best practices. If you are finding conflicting data online, it’s possible, you need a new OB. I wanted to like this book and recommend it to my patients, but unfortunately I feel it just puts us in conflict instead of collaboration.
  • The only book needed for pregnancy

    By Smanson02
    An essential guide for decision making during pregnancy. Knowing the science behind the guidelines is empowering.
  • Loved It

    By Myoldself
    Must read. I will still read What To Expect When Expecting, but this book gave us additional information.
  • Highly recommended

    By Chaco_Gal
    I really enjoyed and appreciated this book. The author rights clearly, with a great mix of anecdote and data. I highly recommend it to any woman confused or overwhelmed by the decisions and "facts" surrounding pregnancy.
  • Changed everything for me

    By Jaspie13
    A data-driven assessment of dozens of pregnancy issues that helped me make the right choices for me and my baby. What a breath of fresh air in a world filled with judgmental mommy police and "advice" based on tradition, not science. This book made me feel empowered and confident. And, for what it's worth, I'm a doctor. I recommend this book to every pregnant woman who values making reasoned, fact-based decisions, rather than following an outdated list of do's and don't's without ever knowing why.
  • A data-driven pregnancy advice book

    By AndiorAndrea
    Let's just say I've read a few pregnancy books before, and I really can not say this loudly enough: This is the BEST one that I have read so far. Sure, Emily Oster is an economist and yeah, that means that she didn't go to medical school, but! She's clearly incredibly intelligent and she's a mom, so she's been there, and she doesn't tell you what to do. She simply goes over the research behind the recommendations she heard from her doctors and gives you the information you need to make an informed choice. That's what economists do these days (forget about Wall Street - that's a different type of economics). They pull information from random bits of data and put it together to try to make sense of this crazy world. They know what types of research are reliable and which ones should be taken with a grain (or ten) of salt. And man, the world of pregnant ladies sure could use a lot less crazy! Emily Oster tackles an incredibly emotionally charged subject with wit and charm, and manages to tell a great story in the meantime. I might not do all the things that the data indicates is okay to do while pregnant, but armed with Expecting Better, I sure can make an informed choice about the things that are important to me.