Recommended Reading



Here is a list of my top picks for childbirth-related books. They are listed in order of importance. In other words, if you are pressed for time or don't like to read much, start with the first books listed! I own all of the highly recommend books--and most of the rest--and will happily lend them to clients.

Textbook for This Class

Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds by Cynthia Gabriel. This is an incredibl valuable resource, laying out step-by-step how women can prepare for a natural birth in a hospital setting, even with an OB/staff who is not particulary supportive. And it's full of wisdom about childbirth that will help ANY woman, even one preparing to deliver at home or at a birth center.  Your tuition covers the cost of this book and you will receive it at your first class. We will draw upon it heavily.

Highly Recommended

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin - The author is the mother of the midwifery movement in the U.S. and this is her new book, which discusses how standard hospital practice really makes having natural childbirth a challenge. She provides a wealth of information to help increase your confidence in your body's ability to birth your baby.

The Birth Partner: Everything You Need to Know to Help a Woman Through Childbirth by Penny Simkin - This author is the mother of the doula movement in the U.S. and this classic book--newly updated (4th edition)--is a fabulous resource for husbands, partners, and birth companions. Buy a copy and leave it out for reading!

Sit Up and Take Notice! Positioning Yourself for a Better Birth by Pauline Scott - This extraordinarily useful book makes it clear that in later pregnancy (after 36 weeks), pregnant women can help their babies rotate into the best position for birth (occiput anterior--back of baby to mother's abdomen) by assuming positions that keep the pelvis tilted forward and the knees below the hips.
*For example: watching TV by leaning forward on pillows or a beanbag chair; placing a cushion behind your back to straighten it while sitting in a soft chair or couch; lying on left side to encourage baby to roll over; putting a thin pillow below yourself in "bucket" car seats to keep the hips higher than the knees.

Essential Exercises for the Childbearing Years by Elizabeth Noble - A must read! Find out how to keep toned and fit during pregnancy and then about those all-important exercises to do post-baby!

More Great Books -- Ways to Build Your Confidence

Birth Reborn, 2nd edition by Michael Odent - Beautiful book about how birth can be when women are supported, feel safe, and are allowed to labor naturally.

An Easier Childbirth: A Mother's Guide to Birthing Normally by Gayle Petersen - Empowering information. The title says it all!

Creating a Joyful Birth Experience by Lucia Capacchione and Sandra Bardsley - Excellent workbook full of activities designed to help the reader "claim the territory" of birth.

Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England and Rob Horowitz - Fantastic book with unusual and interesting methods for gaining insight into what you bring to the birth experience.

Transformation Through Birth: A Woman's Guide by Claudia Panuthos - Another empowering resource.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer -- This wonderful book helps the reader contrast various birth options available today and shows us how we can avoid unecessary interventions. Supported by current research and complete with literature summaries, this book is an invaluable tool for expectant parents who are in the process of making birth choices and plans.

Other Related Topics

Get Through Childbirth in One Piece: How to Prevent Episiotomies and Tearing by Elizabeth Bruce - 80-90% of women delivering vaginally in the United States will receive an episiotomy. The vast majority of these surgeries are unnecessary and preventable. Get Through Childbirth in One Piece! tells it like it is. Using only the latest research, Birth Works certified childbirth educator Elizabeth Bruce shows you how to take responsibility for your own birth.

Immaculate Deception II: Myth, Magic, and Birth by Suzanne Arms - If you want a great feminist analysis of what's wrong (and dangerous) about the medicalization of birth, this is the place to start. Great history.

The Tentative Pregnancy: Prenatal Diagnosis and the Future of Motherhood by Barbara Katz Rothman - I wish every woman would read this before getting pregnant, before having the AFP blood test, and certainly before having amniocentesis in order to really understand what consequences these decisions can have on the whole pregnancy experience.

Silent Knife: Cesarean Prevention and Vaginal Birth After Cesarean by Nancy Weiner Cohen and Lois J. Estner - Eye-opening. The single biggest reason for c-sections is that the woman has had a previous c-section. Lowering the rate of initial c-sections (many of which are the result of often-unnecessary medical interventions such as inducing labor), would be a big help.

Ended Beginnings: Healing Childbearing Losses by Claudia Panuthos and Catherine Romeo - Parts of this are very painful to read, but the central message is important: recoving from miscarriages, abortions, infertility, stillbirth and neonatal death is essential to preparing for future childbirths.
*Note, the book is not anti-choice. Rather, it acknowledges that for many women abortion represents a difficult and sad choice.