Illustration: Terry Colon

Playmate turned self-help guru Jenny McCarthy has never been afraid to bare it all. As the best-selling author of Belly Laughs and Baby Laughs, and now a new book, Life Laughs (Dutton; $23.95), the Mother McAuley High grad dispenses wisdom on everything from pregnancy to her recent divorce. To see how Jenny’s advice stacks up against conventional fare, we compared her views with those of some local experts with some recent releases of their own.

On Weight Gain During Pregnancy

What Jenny Says: “Before the army of cellulite invaded, I noticed about four new inches hanging off my tail side. It was like a tray-you could place an entire TV dinner on my ass. Despite the obvious, I managed to convince myself that having ‘back’ (as the song goes) was totally in and that I was safely in fashion.”
Belly Laughs (Da Capo Press; $12.95)

What The Expert Says: “As it turns out, pregnancy can kick up a wide array of responses concerning body image, from self-loving to self-loathing. . . . Ultimately, the decision over the amount of weight you gain may be out of your hands. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists . . . recommends a gain of 25 to 35 pounds for women of normal weight; from 28 to 40 pounds for underweight women; and from 15 to 25 pounds for overweight women.” From Locker Room Diaries (Da Capo Press; $23), by Leslie Goldman, a writer for the American Medical Association

On Domestic Duties

What Jenny Says: “Sometimes I wish it was still caveman days when the men hunted for food and we stayed by the fire combing our legs and armpits waiting for a dead carcass to arrive. Most girls grow up and easily slide into the domestic duties of the home. I never slid in. I kicked and screamed and was eventually thrown in by my hair.”
–Life Laughs

What The Expert Says: “Both overly rigid gender roles and strict egalitarian thinking (trying to split all chores exactly fifty-fifty) can interfere with the powerful magic of specialization-the process of finding out who is good at or enjoys certain tasks.” From The Case for Marriage (Broadway Books; $14.95), by Linda J. Waite, professor of sociology at the University of Chicago

On Breastfeeding

What Jenny Says: “For years we’ve used them as flirtation tools and sometimes as play toys for our loved ones. But now they are called to duty!! So say good-bye to your ‘fun bags’ for now and say hello to your new udders.”
–Baby Laughs (Dutton; $19.95)

What The Expert Says: “There are lots of benefits to breastfeeding, for both baby and mom. And the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends it for the first year. However, it’s important to make the decision that’s right for you. Every mom I know has approached this issue thoughtfully and with care. You will too, and you should feel great about the decision you make.” From The Working Gal’s Guide to Babyville (Da Capo Press; $15.95), by Paige Hobey, contributing writer for Parenting and Chicago Parent

On Married Sex

What Jenny Says: “I would first like to bitch about why women were NOT built with the same horniness as men. It’s so unfair. Since we do most of the work to maintain the human race, you would think God would make it a fair game. I work all day . . . clean the house, put the baby to bed, and my body is just supposed to be ‘randy’ for my man? That’s funny. That’s really funny.”
–Life Laughs

What The Expert Says: “Just give him some action! This maxim applies not only when you may be feeling frustrated with your partner, but also when you are exhausted. When you’ve worked all day and bathed and fed the kids, and he turns to you for sex at 10 p.m., you’re thinking yeah right. However, if you start kissing and let yourself get into it, you might find that you end up enjoying yourself.” From The Passion Prescription (Hyperion; $24.95), by Laura Berman, Ph.D, a clinical assistant professor at Northwestern University

On Life After Divorce

What Jenny Says: “There are times when I miss having a hairy foot to rub against or someone to yell at when I feel crabby, but all in all, it’s nice to just worry about my own feelings. I still don’t understand the concept of ‘figuring out who you are,’ but I’m sure in time I will have watched enough episodes of Oprah to grasp it.”
–Life Laughs

What The Expert Says: “After a divorce the differences between divorced parents grow larger as they forge new identities. They have new homes and new challenges in their work and personal lives. They form new relationships. Their beliefs and values evolve.” From Between Two Worlds (Crown Publishers; $24.95), a book about divorce by Elizabeth Marquardt, an affiliate scholar at the Institute for American Values.