What to Expect When You're Expecting

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
What to Expect When You're Expecting
What to Expect When You're Expecting Cover.jpg
AuthorHeidi Murkoff & Sharon Mazel
CountryUnited States
GenreAdvice (non-fiction)
PublisherWorkman Publishing Company
Publication date
Media typePaperback
Pages351 (1st ed.)
480 (2nd ed.)
597 (3rd ed.)
616 (4th ed.)
618.2/4 19
LC ClassRG525 .E36 1984

What to Expect When You're Expecting is a pregnancy guide, now in its fifth edition, written by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel and published by Workman Publishing. Originally published in 1984, the book consistently tops The New York Times Best Seller list in the paperback advice category,[1] is one of USA Today's "25 Most Influential Books" of the past 25 years[2] and has been described as "the bible of American pregnancy".[3] As of 2008, over 14.5 million copies were in print.[4] According to USA Today, 93 percent of all expectant mothers who read a pregnancy guide read What to Expect When You're Expecting.[5] In 2012, What to Expect When You're Expecting was adapted into a film released by Lionsgate.[6]


The book presents advice in a question-and-answer format. It proceeds chronologically from the time a woman first begins to suspect pregnancy, through each of the nine months (with one chapter devoted to each), and into the postpartum period. The beginning of each chapter succinctly lists common physical and emotional changes and symptoms a woman may be experiencing, and gives information on what a woman can expect when visiting her doctor or nurse midwife during checkups. Also included early in each chapter is a section entitled "A Look Inside" which displays pictures of the changing female anatomy and the growing embryo then fetus. Additional information in sections titled "What You May Be Concerned About" and "What It's Important to Know" is designed to address a wide range of concerns, problems and life trends.

Each edition includes substantial nutrition information discussing caloric intake, maintaining balanced meals and provides sample recipes. Recent editions include a complete nutrition plan.

The book's appendix lists additional sources of information and resources including government organizations, associations and foundations.

Origin of the book[edit]

Author Heidi Murkoff cites her own quest for reassuring information during her first pregnancy as being the motivation for developing What to Expect When You're Expecting. Murkoff collaborated with her mother Arlene Eisenberg, a freelance journalist and her sister Sandee Hathway, a nurse when developing the pregnancy guide.[7][8]

Its iconic title emerged when an employee of the publisher suggested it as a subtitle for the temporarily titled manuscript, "Pregnancy:" By publication, the subtitle had claimed the top spot.

Although the book's initial print run was small, word of mouth and innovative promotion led to sales that increased in every subsequent year.


What to Expect When You're Expecting has been criticized for promoting paranoia and fear among pregnant women for focusing on complications and for its extremely strict dietary guidelines. Murkoff also has no medical training and has been further criticized for stating she asks obstetricians to comment on manuscripts only late in the writing and editing processes.[3] With the first publishing of the book being in 1984, one reason it is considered problematic is due to the many old and unrevised printings in public circulation. Although wording is revised with each new edition to respond to critiques, older copies are passed down by women to their pregnant peers.[3]

The Science Based Medicine blog criticised the book for its recommendations of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM), such as Acupuncture, Reflexology, Aromatherapy and Homeopathy. The blog post concludes:

There is no credible scientific evidence to support any of these recommendations. It could be argued that this is all feel-good, “keep-the-patient entertained” advice with little chance of direct harm. But it is deceptive and dishonest to represent these modalities as effective treatments based on science, especially in a book that is otherwise scientifically reliable.

Related titles[edit]

The author went on to develop a What to Expect series:

  • What to Eat When You're Expecting (1986)
  • What to Expect: The First Year (1989)
  • What to Expect: The Toddler Years (1994)
  • What to Expect at Bedtime (2000)
  • What to Expect When the New Baby Comes Home (2001)
  • What to Expect: Pregnancy Planner (2002)
  • What to Expect: Babysitter's Handbook (2003)
  • What to Expect at Preschool (2003)
  • What to Expect When Mommy's Having a Baby (2004)
  • What to Expect: Eating Well When You're Expecting (2005; follow-up to What to Eat When You're Expecting)
  • What to Expect: Pregnancy Journal & Organizer (2007)
  • What to Expect Before You're Expecting (2009)
  • What to Expect: the Second Year (2011)

Additional education efforts[edit]

In 2000, the author, and former publishing executive, Lisa Bernstein, founded the What to Expect Foundation[9] whose stated mission is to help low-income families expect healthy pregnancies, safe deliveries and happy babies. The Foundation reports that millions of impoverished women do not have access to free comprehensive pregnancy guides which led to the development of "Baby Basics" a book and education program delivering prenatal health literacy.[9]

Film adaptation[edit]

Even though the book does not contain a storyline, Lionsgate adapted What to Expect When You're Expecting into a film of the same name directed by Kirk Jones. It features an ensemble cast starring Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Chris Rock, Brooklyn Decker, Rodrigo Santoro, Rob Huebel, Chace Crawford and Matthew Morrison. The film was released on May 18, 2012.[6]


  1. ^ Donadio, Rachel (2006-08-27). "Inside the List". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  2. ^ "USA Today's 25 Books that leave a legacy". USA Today. 2007-04-09. Retrieved 2009-11-22.
  3. ^ a b c Kantor, Jodi (2005-09-17). "Expecting Trouble: The Book They Love to Hate". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  4. ^ "Amazon.com Review". Retrieved 2009-11-22.
  5. ^ "What to Expect Website". Retrieved 2009-11-25.
  6. ^ a b "Matthew Morrison Joins Lionsgate's 'What To Expect When You're Expecting'". Deadline Hollywood. July 15, 2011. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  7. ^ "About the Author Heidi Murkoff"
  8. ^ Scott, Janny (1995-01-05). "The New York Times At Home With Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff and Sandee E. Hathaway". Retrieved 2009-11-25.
  9. ^ a b "What to Expect Foundation". Retrieved 2009-11-25.

External links[edit]