Emily Oster

6 min Read Emily Oster

Let’s begin with the bottom line: My new book, The Unexpected, co-authored with Dr. Nathan Fox (Nate to me!), is officially out. It is a guide to navigating pregnancy during and after complications. Nate and I are hopeful that it will help many of you who need it.

The Unexpected book cover
ParentData

I want to tell you more about the book, starting with why Nate and I wrote it.   

All of my other booksExpecting Better, Cribsheet, The Family Firm — came out of my own experiences. I wrote them to answer questions I had, as a pregnant woman and then as a new parent.  

The Unexpected is a book not to answer my own questions but to answer yours. Specifically, to answer the thousands of questions I’ve gotten over the past decade from people whose pregnancies were more complicated than they had expected. I had a miscarriage — what is the chance it will happen again? Or My first pregnancy was complicated with hyperemesis (excessive nausea and vomiting) — should I do something different to prepare?  

How many people experience pregnancy complications?

As a society, we do not talk about pregnancy and birth complications nearly enough. If you read through the table of contents for The Unexpected — preterm birth, preeclampsia, stillbirth, gestational diabetes, and others — you could be forgiven for thinking Aren’t these complications rare? 

Some of them are, individually. But about half of pregnancies are complicated by one of the issues we discuss in this book. That’s 50% of pregnancies but more than 50% of pregnant women, since many people have multiple pregnancies. Despite this, when people do have these pregnancy complications, they often feel alone. Alone because we do not talk about them, and alone because resources are missing.

You are not alone.

What will you find in the book?

Although a core goal of The Unexpected is to make people feel less alone, and to bring the discussion of these complications to the fore, the actual work of the book is to answer the questions that those of you going through this need answered.

One piece of the answer is, as always, data. In the book, as we go through individual conditions, my work is to discuss the numbers. What does our best evidence say about the risk of recurrence? What evidence do we have on treatments — which might work, and how well they might work?  

The data alone isn’t enough. That’s often true, and it’s especially true here, where every individual’s circumstance is a bit different, and everyone is coming from their own place physically and emotionally. This is where the second part of each chapter comes in. In those sections, Nate talks through how to approach these conversations with your doctor. The goal is to have enough understanding and enough of a script to make these talks work for you — to get the information you need and make the decisions that work for you. 

My suspicion is that for readers who are navigating these issues, they will buy this book because they trust me for data, but in the end will find Nate’s sections to be the ones they really use. The book is a true partnership, and I was lucky to have such an amazing partner on it.

So that’s it! The book is out today. I’d love to say, Everyone buy my book! But in fact, I hope you do not need it. If you do, though, I’m glad that it’s there for you.

Join the conversation

There are a number of ways that I hope this book will shine a light on the experiences of people with complications in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum — starting with all of you.

In 2022, when we were outlining this project, I put out a survey on my Instagram asking women to share their stories and questions. I got thousands of responses. Some of these stories we included in The Unexpected, but there were so many more than we could put there. I want all of you to have access to them, so here they are:

If this inspires you to share your story, or connect with others in our community, here are a couple of ways to do it:

  • We created a place in the ParentData Village for you to ask questions and discuss the topics in the book. I’ll also be hopping in throughout the week. Check it out here.
  • I’m devoting my Instagram to sharing your stories starting tomorrow. Please post about your experience and tag #MyUnexpectedStory and @profemilyoster so I can share it. Let’s show the world that our experiences matter!

I started ParentData because I want to be able to continue the conversations that start in my books. So I hope you will join in and help me keep this going far into the future.


The Unexpected: Table of Contents

Want to know more about what’s inside the book? Here’s an overview.

Part 1: Preparation

The first part of the book deals with preparation, and is intended to provide all readers with a general framework for how you might approach a pregnancy after complications. We talk through what kind of information you want to collect about your own medical history, and some decision tools that may be useful in thinking about how you want to move forward.

Chapter 1: Prepare Yourself

Engage with the question of a possible future pregnancy. Is this the right choice? Is now the right time? How can you know if you’re ready?

Chapter 2: Prepare Your Materials

Get your medical records. Talk to your doctor about your last pregnancy. You are the best keeper of your own information.

Chapter 3: Prepare Your Script

The first visit with a provider — either before another pregnancy or once pregnant — is an opportunity to set expectations and make a plan. 

Part 2: Complications

The second part of the book is divided into condition-specific chapters. These are designed to be read as needed. In some cases, you may need multiple chapters. In others, only one. In each chapter, we talk through the data on recurrence and prevention and then offer a perspective on how to approach conversations with your providers about these issues. 

We have tried hard to cover a large share of the major issues that arise in pregnancy, birth, and afterward. However, there will inevitably be conditions or circumstances we have missed. In these cases, we hope that going back through the first part of the book will give you a place to begin as you proceed in conversations with your own providers.

Chapters 4-5: First-Trimester Complications
Hyperemesis Gravidarum and First-Trimester Miscarriage

Chapters 6-13: Second- and Third-Trimester Complications
Second-Trimester Miscarriage, Gestational Diabetes, Preeclampsia, Fetal Growth Restriction, Preterm Birth, Cesarean Section (and VBAC), Severe Maternal Morbidity, Stillbirth

Chapters 14-16: Post-Birth Complications
Recovery Complications, Postpartum Mental Health Conditions, Breastfeeding Barriers

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Two pieces of yellow yarn are stretched across a blue background. The first piece is relatively straight, left to right. The second is tangled.

2 min read

I Had Pregnancy Complications the First Time. Will They Happen for the Second Pregnancy?

I had severe nausea, fatigue, anxiety, and depression and preeclampsia (that one toward the end only) in my first pregnancy Read more

Emily Oster
Woman running on trail

Mar 02 2024

7 min read

Running, Activism, and Motherhood

On November 4, 2018, I ran my fourth New York City Marathon in the best shape of my life. The Read more

Alison Mariella Désir
Four question marks

Apr 25 2024

3 min read

How Likely is Another Miscarriage After an Unexplained One?

I had a missed miscarriage, caught at 12.5 weeks. This was following a normal NIPT, and the pregnancy tissue analysis Read more

Emily Oster
Parent in hospital bed hooked up to machines with newborn lying on their chest

Apr 27 2024

7 min read

When Everything Falls Apart

Before you read on: This essay describes someone’s traumatic birth experience, and may be difficult for some people to read. Read more

Kayleigh Summers

Instagram

left right
Bug season is upon us. Besides annoyance, this can bring up safety concerns, particularly with ticks. They are carriers of diseases, most notably Lyme disease. So what’s the best course of action?

Prevention is key! I suggest:
⭐ Regular tick checks
⭐ Using bug sprays with DEET 
⭐ Wearing long sleeves and pants in the woods

Some parents worry about DEET, but repellants with up to 30% DEET are recommended by both the CDC and AAP. The data says you’re in the clear, so go for it. Enjoy your summer!

#parentdata #emilyoster #tickseason #bugbites #bugspray

Bug season is upon us. Besides annoyance, this can bring up safety concerns, particularly with ticks. They are carriers of diseases, most notably Lyme disease. So what’s the best course of action?

Prevention is key! I suggest:
⭐ Regular tick checks
⭐ Using bug sprays with DEET
⭐ Wearing long sleeves and pants in the woods

Some parents worry about DEET, but repellants with up to 30% DEET are recommended by both the CDC and AAP. The data says you’re in the clear, so go for it. Enjoy your summer!

#parentdata #emilyoster #tickseason #bugbites #bugspray
...

The list of what not to do while pregnant feels longer than a CVS receipt. At ParentData, we want to empower you to make the right decisions for you. 

What an amazing group of women, and an honor to speak at the #MomsFirstSummit debunking parenting myths. 

What are some pregnancy rules you chose to bend after being empowered by data?

#emilyoster #parentdata #pregnancyproblems #pregnancymyths

The list of what not to do while pregnant feels longer than a CVS receipt. At ParentData, we want to empower you to make the right decisions for you.

What an amazing group of women, and an honor to speak at the #MomsFirstSummit debunking parenting myths.

What are some pregnancy rules you chose to bend after being empowered by data?

#emilyoster #parentdata #pregnancyproblems #pregnancymyths
...

Looking for Memorial Day Weekend plans? Might be the perfect time to give potty training a shot. Potty training is notoriously difficult, and we unfortunately don’t have a lot of evidence-based guidance on what works best. So I asked the ParentData community to fill out a survey and share their knowledge — about 6,000 people responded.

👉Comment “Link” for a DM to an article that summarizes all of the best potty training advice we collected. 

Remember, you are not alone in the potty training struggle! It can be incredibly challenging, so please give yourself some grace.

#emilyoster #parentdata #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips #toddlertips

Looking for Memorial Day Weekend plans? Might be the perfect time to give potty training a shot. Potty training is notoriously difficult, and we unfortunately don’t have a lot of evidence-based guidance on what works best. So I asked the ParentData community to fill out a survey and share their knowledge — about 6,000 people responded.

👉Comment “Link” for a DM to an article that summarizes all of the best potty training advice we collected.

Remember, you are not alone in the potty training struggle! It can be incredibly challenging, so please give yourself some grace.

#emilyoster #parentdata #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips #toddlertips
...

We’re hiring an Associate Editor at ParentData! More details at my link in bio. Please share with the great writers and data-loving people in your network. 📊💻

We’re hiring an Associate Editor at ParentData! More details at my link in bio. Please share with the great writers and data-loving people in your network. 📊💻 ...

Do you brand things a certain way to get your kid to accept it? Like calling carrots “rabbit popsicles”? Or telling them to put on their “super speed socks” in the morning? Share your rebrands in the comments below! You never know who you might be helping out 👇

#emilyoster #funnytweets #relatabletweets #parentingjokes #kidssaythedarndestthings

Do you brand things a certain way to get your kid to accept it? Like calling carrots “rabbit popsicles”? Or telling them to put on their “super speed socks” in the morning? Share your rebrands in the comments below! You never know who you might be helping out 👇

#emilyoster #funnytweets #relatabletweets #parentingjokes #kidssaythedarndestthings
...

Have you ever panic-googled a parenting question when everyone else is asleep? If so, you’re not alone. 

Today is the first episode of a new biweekly series on my podcast: Late-Night Panic Google. On these mini-episodes, you’ll hear from some familiar names about the questions keeping them up at night, and how data can help. First up: @claireholt!

Listen and subscribe to ParentData with Emily Oster in your favorite podcast app 🎧

#parentdata #emilyoster #claireholt #parentingstruggles #parentingtips #latenightpanicgoogle

Have you ever panic-googled a parenting question when everyone else is asleep? If so, you’re not alone.

Today is the first episode of a new biweekly series on my podcast: Late-Night Panic Google. On these mini-episodes, you’ll hear from some familiar names about the questions keeping them up at night, and how data can help. First up: @claireholt!

Listen and subscribe to ParentData with Emily Oster in your favorite podcast app 🎧

#parentdata #emilyoster #claireholt #parentingstruggles #parentingtips #latenightpanicgoogle
...

Sun safety is a must for all ages, especially babies! Here are my tips for keeping your littlest ones protected in the sunshine:
☀️ Most importantly, limit their time out in hot weather. (They get hotter than you do!)
☀️ Keep them in the shade as much as possible when you’re out.
☀️ Long-sleeve but lightweight clothing is your friend, especially on the beach, where even in the shade you can get sunlight reflecting off different surfaces.
☀️ If you want to add a little sunscreen on their hands and feet? Go for it! But be mindful as baby skin tends to more prone to irritation.

Comment “Link” for a DM to an article on the data around sun and heat exposure for babies.

#sunsafety #babysunscreen #babyhealth #parentdata #emilyoster

Sun safety is a must for all ages, especially babies! Here are my tips for keeping your littlest ones protected in the sunshine:
☀️ Most importantly, limit their time out in hot weather. (They get hotter than you do!)
☀️ Keep them in the shade as much as possible when you’re out.
☀️ Long-sleeve but lightweight clothing is your friend, especially on the beach, where even in the shade you can get sunlight reflecting off different surfaces.
☀️ If you want to add a little sunscreen on their hands and feet? Go for it! But be mindful as baby skin tends to more prone to irritation.

Comment “Link” for a DM to an article on the data around sun and heat exposure for babies.

#sunsafety #babysunscreen #babyhealth #parentdata #emilyoster
...

I’m calling on you today to share your story. I know that many of you have experienced complications during pregnancy, birth, or postpartum. It’s not something we want to talk about, but it’s important that we do. Not just for awareness, but to help people going through it feel a little less alone.

That’s why I’m asking you to post a story, photo, or reel this week with #MyUnexpectedStory and tag me. I’ll re-share as many as I can to amplify. Let’s fill our feeds with these important stories and lift each other up. Our voices can create change. And your story matters. 💙

#theunexpected #emilyoster #pregnancycomplications #pregnancystory

I’m calling on you today to share your story. I know that many of you have experienced complications during pregnancy, birth, or postpartum. It’s not something we want to talk about, but it’s important that we do. Not just for awareness, but to help people going through it feel a little less alone.

That’s why I’m asking you to post a story, photo, or reel this week with #MyUnexpectedStory and tag me. I’ll re-share as many as I can to amplify. Let’s fill our feeds with these important stories and lift each other up. Our voices can create change. And your story matters. 💙

#theunexpected #emilyoster #pregnancycomplications #pregnancystory
...

OUT NOW: My new book “The Unexpected: Navigating Pregnancy During and After Complications” is available on April 30th. All of my other books came out of my own experiences. I wrote them to answer questions I had, as a pregnant woman and then as a new parent. “The Unexpected” is a book not to answer my own questions but to answer yours. Specifically, to answer the thousands of questions I’ve gotten over the past decade from people whose pregnancies were more complicated than they had expected. This is for you. 💛 Order now at my link in bio!

OUT NOW: My new book “The Unexpected: Navigating Pregnancy During and After Complications” is available on April 30th. All of my other books came out of my own experiences. I wrote them to answer questions I had, as a pregnant woman and then as a new parent. “The Unexpected” is a book not to answer my own questions but to answer yours. Specifically, to answer the thousands of questions I’ve gotten over the past decade from people whose pregnancies were more complicated than they had expected. This is for you. 💛 Order now at my link in bio! ...

OUT NOW: My new book “The Unexpected: Navigating Pregnancy During and After Complications” is available on April 30th. All of my other books came out of my own experiences. I wrote them to answer questions I had, as a pregnant woman and then as a new parent. “The Unexpected” is a book not to answer my own questions but to answer yours. Specifically, to answer the thousands of questions I’ve gotten over the past decade from people whose pregnancies were more complicated than they had expected. This is for you. 💛 Order now at my link in bio!

OUT NOW: My new book “The Unexpected: Navigating Pregnancy During and After Complications” is available on April 30th. All of my other books came out of my own experiences. I wrote them to answer questions I had, as a pregnant woman and then as a new parent. “The Unexpected” is a book not to answer my own questions but to answer yours. Specifically, to answer the thousands of questions I’ve gotten over the past decade from people whose pregnancies were more complicated than they had expected. This is for you. 💛 Order now at my link in bio! ...

OUT NOW: My new book “The Unexpected: Navigating Pregnancy During and After Complications” is available on April 30th. All of my other books came out of my own experiences. I wrote them to answer questions I had, as a pregnant woman and then as a new parent. “The Unexpected” is a book not to answer my own questions but to answer yours. Specifically, to answer the thousands of questions I’ve gotten over the past decade from people whose pregnancies were more complicated than they had expected. This is for you. 💛 Order now at my link in bio!

OUT NOW: My new book “The Unexpected: Navigating Pregnancy During and After Complications” is available on April 30th. All of my other books came out of my own experiences. I wrote them to answer questions I had, as a pregnant woman and then as a new parent. “The Unexpected” is a book not to answer my own questions but to answer yours. Specifically, to answer the thousands of questions I’ve gotten over the past decade from people whose pregnancies were more complicated than they had expected. This is for you. 💛 Order now at my link in bio! ...

Is side sleeping important during pregnancy? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article on whether sleep position affects pregnancy outcomes.

Being pregnant makes you tired, and as time goes by, it gets increasingly hard to get comfortable. You were probably instructed to sleep on your side and not your back, but it turns out that advice is not based on very good data.

We now have much better data on this, and the bulk of the evidence seems to reject the link between sleep position and stillbirth or other negative outcomes. So go ahead and get some sleep however you are most comfortable. 💤

Sources:
📖 #ExpectingBetter pp. 160-163
📈 Robert M. Silver et al., “Prospective Evaluation of Maternal Sleep Position Through 30 Weeks of Gestation and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes,” Obstetrics and Gynecology 134, no. 4 (2019): 667–76. 

#emilyoster #pregnancy #pregnancytips #sleepingposition #pregnantlife

Is side sleeping important during pregnancy? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article on whether sleep position affects pregnancy outcomes.

Being pregnant makes you tired, and as time goes by, it gets increasingly hard to get comfortable. You were probably instructed to sleep on your side and not your back, but it turns out that advice is not based on very good data.

We now have much better data on this, and the bulk of the evidence seems to reject the link between sleep position and stillbirth or other negative outcomes. So go ahead and get some sleep however you are most comfortable. 💤

Sources:
📖 #ExpectingBetter pp. 160-163
📈 Robert M. Silver et al., “Prospective Evaluation of Maternal Sleep Position Through 30 Weeks of Gestation and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes,” Obstetrics and Gynecology 134, no. 4 (2019): 667–76.

#emilyoster #pregnancy #pregnancytips #sleepingposition #pregnantlife
...

My new book, “The Unexpected: Navigating Pregnancy During and After Complications” is available for preorder at the link in my bio!

I co-wrote #TheUnexpected with my friend and maternal fetal medicine specialist, Dr. Nathan Fox. The unfortunate reality is that about half of pregnancies include complications such as preeclampsia, miscarriage, preterm birth, and postpartum depression. Because these are things not talked about enough, it can not only be an isolating experience, but it can also make treatment harder to access.

The book lays out the data on recurrence and delves into treatment options shown to lower risk for these conditions in subsequent pregnancies. It also guides you through how to have productive conversations and make shared decisions with your doctor. I hope none of you need this book, but if you do, it’ll be here for you 💛

#pregnancy #pregnancycomplications #pregnancyjourney #preeclampsiaawareness #postpartumjourney #emilyoster

My new book, “The Unexpected: Navigating Pregnancy During and After Complications” is available for preorder at the link in my bio!

I co-wrote #TheUnexpected with my friend and maternal fetal medicine specialist, Dr. Nathan Fox. The unfortunate reality is that about half of pregnancies include complications such as preeclampsia, miscarriage, preterm birth, and postpartum depression. Because these are things not talked about enough, it can not only be an isolating experience, but it can also make treatment harder to access.

The book lays out the data on recurrence and delves into treatment options shown to lower risk for these conditions in subsequent pregnancies. It also guides you through how to have productive conversations and make shared decisions with your doctor. I hope none of you need this book, but if you do, it’ll be here for you 💛

#pregnancy #pregnancycomplications #pregnancyjourney #preeclampsiaawareness #postpartumjourney #emilyoster
...

We are better writers than influencers, I promise. Thanks to our kids for filming our unboxing videos. People make this look way too easy. 

Only two weeks until our book “The Unexpected” is here! Preorder at the link in my bio. 💙

We are better writers than influencers, I promise. Thanks to our kids for filming our unboxing videos. People make this look way too easy.

Only two weeks until our book “The Unexpected” is here! Preorder at the link in my bio. 💙
...