An Award-Winning Founder of the What to Expect Foundation
The success of her book series caused Heidi to be named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine.
Heidi’s desire and passion for helping parents in raising their children is so much that she established the What to Expect Foundation, a non-profit organization where she can extend her reach to numerous parents all around the United States. The What to Expect Foundation is devoted to assisting families to have healthy pregnancies, safe deliveries, and happy and healthy babies.
From its inception, the foundation has grown greatly, reaching thousands of parents all over the world. The success attained by the foundation resulted in Heidi developing the website WhatToExpect.com, so she could extend her reach to the internet.
Heidi (Before She Became a Murkoff) Bio
Heidi Eisenberg was born in 1961 in New York, the daughter of Howard Eisenberg, a senior editor with Medical Economics, who wrote books, such as “How to Be Your Own Doctor, Sometimes.” Growing up in a well to do and loving family, Heidi was lavished with love and did not live in want. This nurturing developed her love for other people, something that would inspire her to do significant things in her life and in the life of others later on.
Even as a young child, Heidi already had an inquisitive nature. She was also very bright, something that earned her the attention of her teachers and classmates, who would often praise Heidi for her intelligence. She also had a very friendly and positive personality, which enabled her to make many friends. This continued on to her high school and college years; when Heidi enrolled at Brandeis University, she was described by her professors as a very intelligent and amazing student. During her free time, Heidi contributed written articles to the school paper. Upon her graduation from the university, Heidi worked for the Leber Katz Partners, an advertising agency in New York, as a copywriter.
Heidi Marries Erik Murkoff
Heidi met her husband, Erik Murkoff, an off-Broadway theater manager in the early 1980s while she went to a bar. After some time of courting and dating, they developed a romantic relationship, and in 1982 got married. Three months into their marriage life, Heidi started noticing that she was gaining weight even though she did not change her eating habits. Then she realized that she missed her period.
She related this to Erik, who then advised Heidi that they should go to a doctor to find out what was wrong. Upon her visit to a doctor, Heidi expressed her concerns about being pregnant, which the doctor shrugged off. He instead gave Heidi hormones to catalyze menstrual flow. It was until several visits to other doctors that Heidi finally confirmed that she was pregnant.
Heidi Didn’t Know What to Expect When She was Told She was Expecting
Realizing that she was pregnant made Heidi and her husband Erik ambivalent. Both Heidi and Erik had no idea what to do. Without knowing what to expect from the pregnancy, Heidi went to a local bookstore to find information about what a pregnant woman should prepare herself for.
She was able to find around three to four books on pregnancy, but was never satisfied with the content, as she never got the answers that she needed. In one of the interviews made with her later on, Heidi related how she was surprised that one of the books was even written by someone who had never been pregnant, with the book giving advice on how ‘alcohol is poisonous during pregnancy,’ and how alcohol can make the baby ‘brain dead.’ This disappointed and worried Heidi since prior to realizing that she was pregnant she spent time hanging out with her friends, drinking cocktails occasionally.
Writing What to Expect When You’re Expecting
After reading through the other books about pregnancy that she found in the bookstore, Heidi realized that they neither answered the questions she had nor did they reassure her on the worries that she had regarding her own pregnancy. Thinking about the thousands of expectant couples who read the books that she just came across and finding either wrong or no answers at all, Heidi soon became determined to write a guide that would help expectant parents understand the process of pregnancy, thus allowing them to sleep better at night. By documenting her own experiences in her pregnancy, Heidi was able to write the book step by step.
Heidi Gives Birth to a Healthy Daughter
In 1983, while at her apartment, Heidi finished her book proposal. After drinking some raspberry-leaf tea to induce labor, she delivered her proposal and went to the hospital to have her baby delivered. In an interview made with her many years later, Heidi recalled how she had literally “two deliveries in the same day.” That evening, she delivered her first baby, whom she and Erik named Emma. A few days later, the book was published.
So Much Fuss About Heidi Murkoff’s Credentials
Titled “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” the book was initially met with much criticism, mostly for being written by someone who is not a doctor. Due to this notion, the book did not garner a lot of sales, only selling 4,500 copies during its first run.
This brought disappointment to Heidi, who realized that at that time, people were more prone to listening to a doctor, even though he or she has not experienced being pregnant herself. In an interview done with Heidi years later, she stated:
“When the book first came out, there were 4,500 copies advanced. None of the chains bought into it. It was pathetic. Basically, the feeling out there was it wasn’t written by doctors. In fact, I remember the first time I went to the ACOG conference—the American Congress of Ob-Gyns. Back then, the majority of OBs were men, and there was a paternalistic sense. And when we gave out copies of What to Expect, I actually heard two doctors walking down the aisle after they had gotten the book, and they were like, ‘What do women know about pregnancy?’ Seriously—I swear to God.”
What to Expect When You’re Expecting Becomes a Bestseller
In spite of the initial disappointment that she experienced in the release of her book, Heidi did not give up on her desire to help other parents. With the help of her husband Erik, Heidi did not let those discouraging voices keep her from continuing her passion in writing. Eventually, through her and her husband’s connections, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting’s” popularity grew; and more people came to know of the book. Soon enough, there was so much demand for the book that it made Heidi a celebrity author within a short span of time.
The book became a bestseller, and landed top spots in numerous bestselling lists all over the country. It was also named the pregnancy bible for its realistic approach to pregnancy, due to containing advice from someone who actually went through the process of pregnancy.
Heidi Writes More What to Expect Books
The success of Heidi’s first book spawned a series that took the world by storm. This became known as the “What to Expect” series, and has become one of the most popular books in the world. Originally, Heidi wrote books that pertained to pregnancy and early childhood, but she eventually diversified her topics to accommodate the growing number of followers that were truly helped by her books.
What to Expect: The First Year, What to Expect: The Second Year, and What to Expect Before You’re Expecting
From the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” which has been read by over ninety percent of women who read a pregnancy book, Heidi began releasing books such as: “What to Expect: The First Year,” which dealt with the challenges that parents face during the first year of their newborn child; “What to Expect: The Second Year,” which discussed the issues that surface during the child’s toddler years; and “What to Expect Before You’re Expecting,” which talked about a preconception plan. She also wrote on topics such as health and education, but remained focused on the parents’ dealings with the child.
The 2000s saw greater increase in both Heidi’s book sales and her writing career. It also witnessed the publication of new books that were also well-received by the public due to Heidi’s reputation as an author.
In 2005, Heidi decided to expand the “What to Expect” brand by going online and thus established the website WhatToExpect.com to supplement her books. Like the books, WhatToExpect.com became very popular in the internet, gaining millions of views in just a short span of time. It became one of the most visited sites on the web pertaining to pregnancy, which enabled Heidi to expand her reach not just in her own country but throughout the world.
Through the website, Heidi was able to answer questions coming from expectant parents worldwide and give advice to them. In 2009, a mobile version of What To Expect came out, which included the WTE Pregnancy Tracker (which became the most popular pregnancy application in the world), the WTE Fertility Tracker, the WTE Baby Name Finder, the WTE First Year Tracker, and more.
What to Expect Foundation Helps 500,000 Pregnant Women
Prior to the release of WhatToExpect.com, Heidi and her husband Erik established the What to Expect Foundation as a means of assisting the underprivileged families to have healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries. Through this non-profit organization, Heidi developed the Baby Basics program, which has helped over 500,000 pregnant women all over the world.
In 2011, Heidi was included in the 100 Most Influential People in the World list by TIME Magazine in recognition of her accomplishments as an author, mother, and philanthropist.
The Unexpected What to Expect When You’re Expecting Movie Offer
In 2012, Heidi was approached by her manager to request her permission to put her book into a film adaptation. Heidi had received numerous requests to turn her book into the film prior to this, but she would always turn all of them down due to her believing that it was not something that would really make a big story. In fact, she stated in an interview regarding requests to adapt her book to film:
“Huh? Turning this into a movie—say what?”
This time, however, after hearing how the film would be made into a romantic comedy, Heidi agreed to the proposal made by people from Phoenix Pictures.
“The idea of doing a romantic comedy—really, what’s more romantic than starting a family, and what’s more funny than crazy pregnancy symptoms? If you don’t have a sense of humor as a parent, you are so screwed.”
The film, which took its title after the book, featured amazing cast of actors, such as Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Chris Rock, Chace Crawford, and Anna Kendrick. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” movie was released in May 2012, and did moderately well at the box office. In spite of receiving mixed to negative reviews, the critics praised the performances of the actors and the concept upon which it was drawn from.
Heidi Murkoff Gets Personal on Twitter and Ignores Plastic Surgery Criticisms
Despite the bashing she's getting for having plastic surgery, Heidi remains nice to people who try to reach out to her in her Twitter account. She's very accommodating, patiently answering questions posted by giddy mothers. Reading through her tweets, one would see the sweet personality behind the doting mother that Heidi Murkoff is.
Throughout her career, Heidi Murkoff has made appearances on various popular television talk show programs, such as the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, BBC Breakfast, The CBS Early Show, The Today Show, and Good Morning Australia. Heidi also goes on trips around the world, speaking in conferences and events about pregnancy, and promoting the Baby Basics program, which aims to help parents to have healthy and safe pregnancies and deliveries.
Heidi’s Daughter is now a Mother Herself
Currently, Heidi continues her passion for helping expectant parents through her organization and website. She often spends time answering questions through her social media sites, providing sound advice on how pregnancy should be handled. And yet, in spite of her busy schedule, she never forgets to prioritize the one thing that she has been promoting all these years: her family. She has currently become a grandmother, after her daughter Emma gave birth to her first child.
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- What to Expect Foundation
Awards and Achievements
- 2005: Inducted in the Books For A Better Life Hall of Fame
- 2011: Included in the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine