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I’ve got stacks and stacks of books about birth and early parenting and I’ve read stacks and stacks more. I find this topic incredibly interesting even as my own children are getting bigger. I really believe that it’s so important for mothers to be informed. Information introduces options and gives you real choices. Here are a few of my clients and my own favorites.
1. Birth Partner by Penny Simkin. No list of birth books is complete without something by Penny Simpkin. She’s an incredible woman and one of the founders of the doula movement here in the US. She’s still very involved with DONA, my certifying agency, and I’ve been privileged to hear her speak. If your partner is asking what they can do to prepare, have them read this book. It’s hands down the best practical book I’ve read on supporting women during childbirth.
2. Birth Skills by Juju Sundin. This book is actually one that’s come up several times from my clients and piqued my curiosity. Sundin is out of Australia and provides a variety of unique coping techniques and speaks about birth in a way that’s easy to read and non-judgmental. If you are looking for a birth book with all the natural techniques but also supportive of your choice to get an epidural, this really maybe the book for you.
3. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley. Buckley is another Australian and an MD who had her own children at home. Very unique perspective and sometimes a bit medical but lots of wonderful information.
4. Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Penny Simkin. Again, a wonderful, straightforward resource from Penny Simkin. This book has been around for awhile and updated several times. This book provides a wonderful overview of what to expect during this unique time in life. It’s tone is warm and positive and emphasizes normalcy while also explaining potential complications.
5. Birthing from Within by Pam England. Some women, especially VBAC mothers and women who are survivors, have more heart work to do before their baby’s birth. If you think this might be you, please pick up this book. To be honest, making collages about my feelings does not really appeal to me but I’ve met too many women who found this book and the exercises within to be powerful during their birth preparations to not include it.
6. Ina May’s Guild to Childbirth. Ina May is another one that can’t be left off a list of birth books. This book is a series of amazing, powerful birth stories, with a few terrible ones from the 70s. I promise hospital birth is better now than it was then. Many stories in this book are dated. But the joy and strength and peace still ring true.
7. Complete book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger. This book is similar in content to #4 above but Kitzinger approaches birth from more of an anthropological bent and makes a point to honor families that aren’t quite so traditional looking. Regretfully, I should note that Ms. Kitzinger has passed away and the newest edition of this book is from 2003 and information may be becoming dated.
8. Homebirth in the Hospital by Stacey Marie Kerr is another of my favorites. No, a hospital birth will never be a home birth but it was one of the first books I read that made me believe that a positive hospital birth was possible after my own traumatic birth. Also, Dr. Kerr replied to my email personally!
There is so much good information out there sometimes it can be hard to sort through it all and find the resources best for you. Sometime in the future I’ll write a post with my favorite websites for those of you who prefer information in shorter amounts. Have a favorite birth book not on my list? I’d love to know what it is!
Adina Nelson, CD(DONA)
I am a birth & postpartum doula and chlidbirth educator practicing in North Idaho.
She was there every step of the way for me and my husband...I thank Adina for everything she helped us with. She truly is a special person and we will be forever grateful for her! ~Erin