Natural birth is an amazing, life-changing experience that is hard to put into words, but it takes preparation and knowledge. From experience, I know that fear and tension can make natural birth a scary and painful experience, rather than a challenging but empowering accomplishment it is meant to be.
The following are some (of the many) pregnancy and natural birth books that I read that were instrumental to me in making my 26-hour natural labor an experience I look back on fondly. If you are considering natural birth, I highly encourage these books.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin- Highly recommended, an excellent blend of birth stories and practical advice from the most well-known midwife in the country. It does contain graphic images of birth.
Your Best Birth: Know all Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices and Take Back the Birth Experience by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein- Highly Recommended. This book came as an addition to the documentary, The Business of Being Born, which I also highly recommend. It is an in depth look at all the common procedures of labor and birth in society today and encourages you to evaluate all your options.
Active Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally by Janet Balaskas- Some good information, it addresses the importance of movement and involvement during birth. I like that it gives concrete suggestions for minimizing the discomfort of labor and making delivery either with movement, massage, visualization and distraction.
Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block- Highly Recommended. Great information on modern maternity care. This is probably the top book I recommend to expecting moms and doula clients. It explains in depth the reason (or lack thereof) of many of the common interventions and procedures during pregnancy and birth and empowers moms to make the best choices for them in these situations. This was the book that gave me the knowledge to be able to stand up to pushy doctors and nurses, even while in the pain of transition. If you want natural birth, read this book!
Childbirth Without Fear by Dr. Grantly Dick Read-The book that started it all for me and changed the way I viewed birth. Highly recommended, though the language takes a few pages to adjust to as it was written several decades ago. This books helps women feel confident that their bodies are capable and excellent at birthing naturally in most cases.
Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper- Some information slightly outdated, but good information on empowering yourself to make informed decision.
Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent- A memoir of a midwife who has delivered hundreds of babies. Some very touching birth stories and some great info mixed in.
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin- A great resource for moms, dads, labor coaches, doulas, etc. Make your husband and birth team read this book (so they won’t say things like “ssshhhh… it’s ok, don’t yell,” in transition.
Birthing from Within by Pan England and Rob Horowitz- A pretty good book. I didn’t really connect with her writing style, but she does offer some good advice on the emotional preparation needed for birth.
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way – Many women do really well with the Bradley method of natural childbirth and I like that this system also involves the husband as an integral part of the birth.
Natural childbirth is incredible, but the proper preparation can make a tremendous difference!
Some of my podcast guests recommended books on pregnancy as well that you shouold check out.
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