Expecting Better Book Summary - Expecting Better Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Expecting Better summary

Emily Oster

Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know

3.9 (77 ratings)
25 mins
Table of Contents

    Expecting Better
    Summary of 8 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 8

    Using the basic tools of economic decision theory, you can make informed choices about your pregnancy.

    When leading economist Emily Oster got pregnant, she found that every decision came with a strict set of dos and don’ts. She was wary of believing recommendations or opinions that weren’t supported by reliable evidence, but much of the available information was flawed or contradictory.

    Her doctor also tended to offer edicts instead of answers. When Oster asked her obstetrician about certain medical or lifestyle choices, she expected to receive an outline of potential risks and benefits, along with supporting evidence. Instead, there were rigid guidelines: “amniocentesis is only for women over 35” or “pregnant women should quit drinking coffee entirely.” Oster wondered how many of these guidelines were simply arbitrary social norms perpetuated by misinformation.

    So she put her economic decision-making principles to use and waded into the world of prenatal medical care.

    An economist’s framework for making decisions requires two things. The first is good data, which was lacking in most pregnancy books and articles. For example, having one or two drinks per week was “probably fine,” and prenatal testing was “risky.” But what did “probably fine” and “risky” mean numerically? For concrete numbers, she had to go directly to the source: the academic medical literature that the official recommendations were based on.

    Pregnancy research ran the gamut, from high-quality studies and trials to low-quality ones, and Oster was well-trained in differentiating between the two. Because economists don’t always have access to randomized trials – the gold standard for research – they tend to be experts in gleaning information from observational data. Studying pregnant women and alcohol, for example, a researcher couldn’t ethically require subjects to drink. She could glean observational data from those women who do it anyway, though. Applying this skill to pregnancy research, Oster found that many recommendations were based  on not just flawed studies, but on overly cautious interpretations of those studies.

    The second element of an economist’s framework is an assessment of the costs and benefits of a decision. Of course, this is a highly personalized matter, especially when it comes to pregnancy. After all, different women have different preferences and value different things. But it’s nonetheless helpful to have a clear idea of what a decision’s costs and benefits might be. With that information, women can make smart decisions instead of blindly following recommendations.

    In the following blinks, you’ll find the conclusions Oster came to after unearthing research on the many aspects of pregnancy. Some of her findings support conventional wisdom; others challenge or outright disprove it. The evidence won’t make your decisions for you, but it will help you to take control, think critically, and make your own informed choices.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Expecting Better?

    Key ideas in Expecting Better

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Expecting Better about?

    Expecting Better (2013) gives moms-to-be peace of mind by cutting through the haze of pregnancy myths and laying bare the real facts. Author Emily Oster, a leading economist, challenges and reevaluates conventional wisdom so that you can make your own decisions for a happy and healthy pregnancy.

    Best quote from Expecting Better

    Im not crazy about the implication that pregnant women are incapable of deciding for themselves – that you have to manipulate our beliefs so we do the right thing.

    —Emily Oster
    example alt text

    Who should read Expecting Better?

    • Expectant mothers or people planning a pregnancy
    • Anyone looking for concrete facts about pregnancy and childbirth
    • People overwhelmed by all the pregnancy decisions they need to make

    About the Author

    Emily Oster is an American economist and professor at Brown University. She is also the author of the best seller Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool.

    Categories with Expecting Better

    Books like Expecting Better

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    28 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial