I recently got a query online from an expectant mother, asking what books I would recommend to prepare for natural childbirth and breastfeeding, past shallow and Americanized books about birth (read: medicalized and anesthetized) that she had already read (and been disappointed in).
I had three natural births (drug-free) and all three were the most profound and wonderful experiences of my life. Other mothers around the country are pursuing natural birth similarly. They are discovering their courage and reclaiming the power of birth.
But natural birth is not just about supporting a mother and respecting her body and wishes, it is also about creating SAFER birth for American women. America’s birth outcomes are horribly shameful, where we claim the highest infant and maternal mortality rate of all developed nations, including the highest first day infant death rate (Save the Children 2013). Read my post, Better Birth Starts by Watching This, about Georgetown researcher Ryan McAllister who poses a simple question about US birth, “would you pay full price for something that is broken?”
All of these books I have personally read, used as a mother and therapist, and can highly recommend.
- THE Labor and Delivery go to book – The Birth Partner – A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions
- Our Babies, OurSelves: How Biology and Culture Affect the Way We Parent. This book shaped my views on parenting as I learned that the “American way” is often not just atypical of parenting across the globe, but also not beneficial for parents or their babies.
- Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth
- Free Birth Plan Template Download – Creating A Birth Plan – Hint: I have done this with all three of my children, and childbirth expert Penny Simkin and others report having one of these decreases your risk of PTSD after childbirth.
- Finding the Right Doctor or Midwife
- Finding the Right Hospital For Your Birth
- There are other texts that offer methods for labor and delivery coaching that I have used in the past, including Birthing from Within and Natural Childbirth (Bradley Method).
- The Minimalist Nursery: What Does Baby Really Need?
The First Year
- The Baby Book, Revised Edition: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Sears Parenting…by William Sears, Martha Sears, Robert Sears and James Sears (Jan 8, 2013) – This is an incredible book that I read cover to cover and used when my first son was born.
- The Breastfeeding Book: Everything you want to know about breastfeeding your child from birth through weaning…by William Sears and Martha Sears – This book was more helpful and informative, telling me things no other book mentions, than the American Academy of Pediatricians text on breastfeeding, or any other book I bought (and I bought them all).
- Ina May’s Guide To Breastfeeding with American authority in midwifery, Ina May Gaskin
This book also looks wonderful, based on the Sears’ track record of writing organically and truthfully about pregnancy and motherhood:
- The Healthy Pregnancy Book: Month by Month, Everything You Need to Know from America’s Baby Experts (Sears Parenting… by William Sears, Martha Sears, Linda Holt and BJ Snell (Sep 24, 2013)