Expecting 411 is a handy guide that covers everything, even the most taboo of topics.

By peoplestaff225
Updated November 21, 2010 11:00 AM
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“I learned more about pregnancy by having my babies than I did going through four years of medical school,” jokes obstetrician Dr. Michele Hakakha.

And while she’s not completely serious, the doctor drew on a lot of personal experience — and the concerns of her patients — while co-writing the new pregnancy manual, Expecting 411.

The book (from the publishers of Baby 411 and Toddler 411) covers literally everything from birthing plans and bodily changes to doctor’s appointments in an easy-to-read, question-and-answer format.

Co-written by pediatrician Dr. Ari Brown, the informative tome touches on those first postpartum days, too.

“It took us about two years to write since we are both practicing physicians and moms,” Hakakha tells PEOPLE Moms & Babies. “I kept a list of all the questions I got in my office — hundreds every day — and made sure we included them all.”

Hakakha says many of her patients felt other pregnancy and baby books were too alarming. “They couldn’t read through them without thinking they would develop some disease,” she says. “Or they thought they were too paternalistic, written by older men who didn’t necessarily know what pregnant women were going through.”

The doctors were most enthusiastic about including topics that moms-to-be traditionally find taboo: drinking, sex and even termination. “There are things people don’t want to share, like, ‘I drank three martinis before I found out I was pregnant. Will that hurt my child?’ We want to make sure they have answers.”

Hakakha shares that her patients tend to ask a lot about sleeping (“Enjoy sleeping on your back now!” she laughs) and travel, too. “Everyone travels so much these days. But travel during pregnancy has historically been associated with radiation risks in metal detectors,” Hakakha says. (For the record, she says air travel up to 28 weeks is just fine — but every week thereafter gets riskier.)

The book isn’t designed to scare, but rather, inform, like a best friend would. It includes partner tips, too, so your second-in-command knows what he or she can do to help.

“I think the most important thing during pregnancy is to be smart, not crazy,” Hakakha says. “People obsess about things sometimes, but if you eat well, get regular exercise and enjoy your pregnancy, it’ll make life easier. It only lasts nine-and-a-half months!”

Kate Hogan