I am a total information junkie. Plus I think it’s important to be informed about huge life-altering events and to know one’s options… and I think it’s equally important to limit my intake of negative, fear-based information and up my intake of positive, empowering information. So here’s a list of the books I’ve read that I recommend for pregnant women and those who love them:
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth - if you only read one book about birth, pick this one. It’s a mixture of information about what happens during labor and how to have a good childbirth experience, coupled with positive birth stories and some info about the history of childbirth.
Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife - interesting autobiography of a California midwife with lots of awesome birth stories woven in!
Diary of a Midwife - similar to Baby Catcher. This one is the autobiography of a Virginia-based midwife, also with lots of great birth stories.
YOU: Having a Baby - by the famous Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen. Good basic info about pregnancy and birth, although a bit cheesy. The doctors present balanced information and cover multiple sides of issues such as testing in pregnancy, vaccinations, etc. I liked how this book incorporated both the mainstream medical approach, the more natural approach, and listed the doctors’ own decisions which were somewhere in the middle.
The Birth Partner - Great book for all birth partners, but also a good read for the pregnant woman herself! Goes through the stages of labor in-depth and the different paths that labor can take, as well as ways to cope with contractions, support the laboring woman, and questions to ask if labor takes an unexpected turn and you are faced with making some quick decisions.
Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta - also by Ina May Gaskin, this book is a comprehensive overview of the history of childbirth, how birth experiences impact women and their loved ones, ways the current health care system is failing women (and the available alternatives that women might not know about), and well thought-out suggestions for improving maternity care both in the U.S. and around the world. The book also has empowering birth stories that I like to re-read as my own labor approaches!
I’ve read a number of other books, too, but these are the top ones I’d recommend. I’d love to hear your suggestions, too!