Book Review: Belly Laughs

McCarthy, Jenny. Belly Laughs. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2004.

From the former host of MTV’s “Singled Out” comes a no-holds-barred account of what you can “really expect when you’re expecting.”Oh, the joys of pregnancy! There’s the gasiness, constipation, queasiness, and exhaustion; the forgetfulness, crankiness, and the constant worry. Of course, no woman is spared these discomforts and humiliations, but most are too polite to complain or too embarrassed to talk about them. Not Jenny McCarthy! In Belly Laughs, the actress and new mother reveals the naked truth about the tremendous mood swings, the excruciating pains, and the unseemly disfigurement that go along with pregnancy. Never shy, frequently crude, and always laugh-out-loud funny, McCarthy covers it all in the grittiest of girlfriend detail. With tips and hilarious musings on morning sickness and hormonal rage, hemorrhoids, pregnant sex, and the torture and sweet relief that is delivery, Belly Laughs is must-read comic relief for anyone who is pregnant, who has ever been pregnant, is trying to get pregnant or indeed, has ever been born!

I first heard of this book a few years ago when I was working at a Borders book store. At the time I was surprised that she was anything more than an airhead blonde (come on, you know that’s how she potrayed herself on Singled Out), and judged that it must not be very good. Yes, I know, never judge a book by its perfectly airbrushed cover.

In looking at books about pregnancy, it seems that a lot of them aim to be the be-all and end-all, the only book you will ever need to read on the topic. Which is all well and good, except that sometimes it can be overkill to read the same things over and over because this one has a slightly different slant than that one, and this other one is slightly different from the other two. It can make your head spin. And maybe I don’t want to read a book that dense, especially when I’m not pregnant and just want a more light preview.

This book is perfect if you’re looking for short, funny snippets (no more than four or five pages long) that give a heads up without going into too much depth. In fact, I think I might need to pass this book along to my husband so he can see what to prepare for. His knowledge of pregnancy is limited to strange night-time cravings (which will inevitably turn into his having to go to a grocery store for me a 2am) and screaming during labor. Not that I would call myself an expert, but I’m learning. Oh, and THE Jenny McCarthy is the author, as well as the gorgeous cover model, so that will probably make this book a quick sell to him.

When I do get pregnant, I can see myself picking this up again and again for a quick laugh, especially as I experience each thing she talks about so I can remember that I’m not the only one who has been through it! McCarthy has also written follow-ups Baby Laughs and Life Laughs, which I also intend to get.