Mom gets confused sometimes. The other night, she happened upon Cablevision's on-demand "Mag Rack" service, which offers a glut of what the communications giant/incompetent Knicks overlord calls "video magazines [that] bring your interests to life." For the next few hours, she operated under the assumption that her not-ready-for-radio-much-less-prime-time son had been entertaining viewers throughout the New York metropolitan area for weeks--nay, months! An e-mail the next morning swiftly disavowed her of this notion.

So to keep things simple for my mommy, whom I love very much, we're devoting today to a publication that's in her topical wheelhouse: Pregnancy. Me, I don't have the slightest bit of knowledge or credibility here. Miracle of life, circle of life... it's all very disorienting. Make up your mind already, you know?

My usual ignorance notwithstanding, Pregnancy does a fine job of steering women across the pregnancy spectrum--from those preparing to conceive to those who have just delivered--in the right direction. While the title resorts to lowest-common-denominator thinking at times (it suggests that women with swollen ankles wear... wait for it... comfortable shoes), mostly it offers a progressive mix of health and lifestyle content for an audience that would seem to be vastly underserved from a publication perspective.

The February Pregnancy works best when it focuses on day-to-day mundanities. An item on proper techniques for sponge/tub baths for newborns transcends its seemingly obvious topic (and boy, didn't I learn many of these tips the hard way when a bath for my nephew almost resulted in a drowning... of me, not him). The mag smartly limits its product flogging to items for pregnant women/new moms; its workout and fashion tips don't stray into general-interest purgatory.

Equally good is Pregnancy's sorta-niche content: it devotes separate "Stages" sections to women preparing to conceive, those in the throes of early-/mid-/late-pregnancy and those who have recently delivered. The title doesn't hesitate to get a little technical, either, devoting several pages to the benefits and drawbacks of umbilical cord blood banking.

Pregnancy also does its darndest to ensure that its readers don't view themselves as mere procreative vessels. The cleverly titled "Mama Sutra" celebrates pregnancy sex, offering helpful diagrams (complete with a male avatar boasting a distinctly Flock of Seagulls-ish hairdo) and product recommendations (it presents two dildos without mentioning the word "dildo"). Along those same lines, a spread on lingerie for preggos advises readers that "sexy underwear is worth having even if you're the only one who sees it." I hear ya, sister.

A few of the choices in the February issue don't make a lot of sense. For some reason, a huggy-happy-affirming "we couldn't agree with you more, Joely!" is tacked onto the end of the Q&A with barrel-tummied mom-to-be Joely Fisher. The "Steal Her Style" item on Michelle Williams is rendered pointless by a photo in which the actress/new mom doesn't appear to be preggers. A page devoted to cookbooks ("hey, you need the nutrients") seems like a stretch. And the near-absence of content relating to mental fitness during pregnancy feels like an opportunity lost.

I also wonder if the magazine's title ought to be White Pregnancy. Of the myriad images scattered throughout the February issue, a mere five depict women of non-Caucasian ethnicity, and one of those is a shot of an assistant editor featured on the contributors page. Similarly, the issue features a single nonwhite child. If I'm black or Asian or Franco-Guyanese or whatever, I find this lack of diversity slightly troubling. The content embraces all comers; the images send an entirely different message.

It's a problem easily enough fixed, however--and to be fair, maybe Pregnancy has done a better job of across-the-ethnic-spectrum representation in earlier issues, none of which I've seen. So yeah, small quibbles aside, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Pregnancy to any gal in the family way. By sticking to the basics and limiting its editorial purview, it serves its readers ably. Novel concept, right?

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