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Best Birthy Books

I am planning on making a Recommended Reading handout to give to my doula clients. I realized that I usually recommend the same three books first:

#1. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

With 99 customer reviews on Amazon, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth has earned 5 stars - and with good reason.

I always recommend this birth first. The entire first half is devoted to birth stories, mostly normal births. The midwives at The Farm are amazing - at over 2000 births, they have a cesarean rate of less than 2%, while the US cesarean rate reached an all-time high of 29.1% in 2004.

The birth stories in this book are so straight-forward, simply affirming the innate strength and beauty of birthing women - without being overly preachy. It comes with beautiful and tasteful photos that show expected parents what normal birth is all about.

#2. The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth

Henci Goer covers practically everything in this book. This is truly all a thinking woman needs to take control of her own birth. Goer gives a disclaimer up front, letting the reader know that she is for normal, natural births. She goes on to explain that she advocates this because research shows it's the healthiest, best way to have a baby. She gives the research in a straight-forward manner, giving the woman the information on the subject, the pros & cons, other treatments you might consider, and more. Even if you don't necessarily agree with her, you'll definitely come away from this book empowered to make an educated choice on your own.

#3. Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation

I'll give my own disclaimer now: One of my goals is to become a childbirth educator through the Birthing From Within Mentor program.

While I was saddened that I couldn't take one of these classes while I was pregnant, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Birthing From Within looks at birth as a powerful, sacred occassion. It helps the parents to go within, tapping into the great birth power that has been at the center of life through time eternal. We've lost a lot of the sacredness with the medicalization of birth, and Birthing From Within helps us reclaim that.

This book gives wonderful, thought provoking exercises for the parents to work on, dipping into the creative and artisic part in all of us. Focusing on emotion rather than technique, the exercises encourage the parents to get creative and hands-on in preparing for the arrival of their child. The birth art is beautiful, and the themes touched on are so vital to birthing parents, but often so overlooked.

So I'd like to ask all of my birthy friends - what are your top three books that you recommend to birthing mommas & families?

I'll be honest, it was very hard not to include 'Gentle Birth Choices' in my top three. Henci Goer's book is so comprehensive, though, that Birthing From Within won out for third choice.

Ideally, I'd love to have a handout that includes:
Normal Childbirth
And I'd like to find a good humorous book that might speak to fathers & partners

What are your top picks, and why?

Thanks in advance!


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2006 07:19 pm (UTC)
Why does the very word "childbirth" make my poor vaginal walls contract in utter distaste?
Apr. 3rd, 2006 07:21 pm (UTC)
That's too bad. You might enjoy reading the first book; perhaps your outlook would change.

Birth is one of my passions, so I post about it fairly often. :-O
Apr. 3rd, 2006 07:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Wow
Females scream too much in childbirth for it to be a passion!
Apr. 3rd, 2006 07:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Wow
Not necessarily - and it really depends on their birth choices nad personal power.

Which is why I write posts like these. ;)
Apr. 3rd, 2006 07:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Wow

Apr. 3rd, 2006 07:59 pm (UTC)
For me it all depends on the woman. If she seems really well educated on birth already, then I suggest henci, gentle birth choices, and the birth partner if she has a partner involved. If she is younger or hasnt really read or taken the time to find out any information on birth, I suggest the birth book by sears, or ina may. It really all comes down to the vibe I get from the woman. I have around 35 books on pregnancy childbirth and breastfeeding, and tons of parenting books. I usually try to suggest things around her attitude. I ALWAYS reccomend birthing from within, now that Ive read it ;). I also have a list of books I bring along that I have on hand to lend. Ive lost 3 books that way, but they were all women who I really felt needed the info. Im such a book whore, lol ;)
Apr. 3rd, 2006 08:13 pm (UTC)
I'm a book whore, too, although I don't have the money to support my habit. :( And I owe too much at the library to be allowed to check out. I'm awful! I'll check out, like, a dozen or more books at a time. Then if I'm one or two days late, it racks up.

I'm getting my habit under control, though. ;)

I've actually decided to start an Amazon wish list. I already have about ten books off the top of my head, and I haven't even registered yet. ~ LOL ~ That's a good idea, though. If I could build up my lending library, I might make it more tailored to the woman.

Which Sears book?
Apr. 3rd, 2006 08:24 pm (UTC)
Sears Birth Book, and Breastfeeding book. Pregnancy book is good too and I really like his baby book. We almost have the completele sears library, lol. If we have extra money we spend it on books, its our weakness, but a justifyable one :) I also owe our librbray $40...lol those were all kids books too!!!!
Apr. 3rd, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC)
Ha ha! That's how much I owe.

Well, I'm not sure - it might be how much I owe to begin checking out again, because they cut you off once you hit $20. :P
Apr. 3rd, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC)
What to expect? [Just kidding.:)]

TWG would have been my first choice. I've made a vow to send it as a gift to all of my friends who are pregnant for the first time, or who get pregnant for the second or more from now on.:)

I haven't read Ina May's books yet, though.

How about the DR Sears books?
Apr. 3rd, 2006 10:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, definitely check out Ina May! She's fantastic. I got to meet her in person at a La Leche League conference. I wanted to have Ivy on the farm - they're in TN & I'm in NC, but I knew my births are too fast. :(
Apr. 4th, 2006 01:53 am (UTC)
Most of the clients I've had so far have not been big readers, so I've just photocopied the most relevent sections for them from various sources(based on our conversations), as whole books have seemed rather overwhelming. I'm just working my way through BFW now, and Ina May's books (which I have read) are next on my wish list to own. I must admit though, the BFW exercise of the parents experiencing birth by wrapping in a blanket etc. seemed a little 'out-there' for me. :) So far a good book though. I also have Sheila Kitzinger's Complete Guide... and Penny Simkin's PCN as often recommended books.
Apr. 4th, 2006 02:07 am (UTC)
Thanks! Yeah, SK & Penny Simkin are great choices, too. I'd be hard pressed to choose which Simkin book... :)
Apr. 4th, 2006 03:00 am (UTC)
I like all your choices and those suggested...there's something--and the book is loaned out so can't remember where--in BFW that bugs me...something to do with breastfeeding advice. I'll find it and let you know.


P.S. I rarely hear women scream in labor...in 15 years of attending births I could count on one hand the true "screams"...although lots of women vocalize naturally and we suggest they keep the sounds low for "oomph" instead of high-pitched which doesn't bode well for control. I call the vocalizing "singing the baby out."
Apr. 4th, 2006 03:05 am (UTC)
It's been so long since I read BfW all the way through. Actually, I'd pick and choose the ones that appealed to me, and kind of skimmed the rest. I should really sit down and reread it again. :)

I know what you mean about women screaming in labor. That's another common misconception. I really wish that women were more involved with birth their whole lives - seeing mothers, sisters, and friends birthing powerfully and naturally.

I always felt that most birth-momma sounds are actually more erotic-sounding rather than painful.
Apr. 4th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)
Hehehe. I have extra copies of each of Ina May and Birthing from within so that I can lend them to clients. :)

Ina May tends to be my only dead cert though, and what other books I recommend varies depending on the mother, her existing ideas and situation, what her passions are etc. A couple of my other favourites are:

'Birth Without Violence' by Frederick Leboyer (who will be speaking at the Doula UK study day I'm going to in July)

'Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year' by Susun S. Weed - good for those mom's who want to be really proactive and do a lot of self-treatment.

'The Birth Partner' by Penny Simpkin is one I always have with me in my bag at a birth for reference and it might also be good for Dads/other partners, if they're big readers and motivated. It's not humorous though.

'Silent Knife' by Nancy Cohen is a good one for VBAC clients.

'Birth Reborn' by Michel Odent is also a good one. In fact I've yet to find a book by him that I didn't get a lot out of, although I'm not with him 100% on all things. His book 'Birth and Breastfeeding' might be worth a look as a good bf resource.

I too would love to be a Birthing From Within mentor. It's begin to gain popularity in the UK as a movement, which is great. The client I was with last night was very excited as her modrock had arrived that morning and she was looking forward to doing her belly cast.
Apr. 4th, 2006 02:12 pm (UTC)
I have to admit that I haven't read a lot of the books you recommend. I did get to look through The Birth Partner, but that is another one high on my list of Need To Get. I have read some Michel Odent, but I can't remember which ones. :P I don't think I've read Birth Without Violence, but I'd like to.

I generally try not to get into herbal remedies. Here where I live, we try to stay very NON-Medical. Homeopathy is frowned upon, but we've had problems with local doulas 'prescribing' things and getting bad publicity. And I signed the DONA scope of practice... But I don't see why I couldn't list that on recommended reading and let the momma chose whether or not to look into it. We have a lot of holistic, new agey types where I live and I bet many of them would enjoy Susun Weed's book.

Thanks for your recommendations! You've given me several to look into.
Apr. 4th, 2006 03:21 pm (UTC)
It's standard practice over here for doulas to carry a homeopathic kit of some sort, and I've studied herbal medicine so although I'm not insured to prescribe I can provide information and allow the parents to make their own choices. It is a good book to give to people who might be that way inclined, as it not only lists herbal remedies, but also homeopathics, food stuffs and various other natural alternatives for different situations right through from pre-conception to well after the birth.
Apr. 5th, 2006 05:25 pm (UTC)
I picked up all three of these books, I started with Ina May, and I can't put this book down. Women of the world need to recognize that long before hospitals and OBGYN's there were midwives...women helping women let nature take its course. I feel empowered from reading the birth stories from women on "The Farm". Anyone who wants to get back to the roots of being a women...READ THAT ONE!!! I will let you know what I think of the others, once I'm done with Ina May.
Apr. 5th, 2006 05:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Kudos
I know you! I see your journal is so far empty, but I'm friending you anyway. :P

I'm really glad you like Ina May. She's amazing.
Mar. 27th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
I loved The Doula Advantage by Rachael Gurevich.
Mar. 28th, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
I don't believe I've read that one, but I'll have to do so. Thanks!
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )


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