Natural Childbirth Books: A Guide

I don't know everything about natural childbirth but when I first started researching and learning more about it, I found these books to be the most enjoyable and helpful! If you can't find them at your locally, I've included links to Amazon (my favorite place to shop) where you can buy them directly. The "about" summaries I've copied either from Amazon or from the author's website. Enjoy and feel free to ask me any questions!

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth
Author: Henci Goer
About: Award winning medical writer and birth activist Henci Goer gives clear, concise information based on the latest medical studies. She was a doula (labor support professional) for over twenty years and a Lamaze educator for ten. Her book will help you compare and contrast your various options and show you how to avoid unnecessary procedures, drugs, restrictions, and tests.
My Thoughts: This book is exactly as described. It's chock full of facts and statistics. I often reference it when telling people about natural childbirth just because it puts things out there plainly and easily. The chapters on how hospitals/doctors regard labor is spot on. This is definitely a book to read to inform yourself and to get to know your options in childbirth.

Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery
Author: Ina May Gaskin
About: Using history as her guide, nationally recognized midwife Gaskin explores what she hopes will be a renaissance in natural childbirth, something that she's been advocating since the mid-1970s in her Guide to Childbirth. By focusing on how women of ancient civilizations and other modern peoples give birth, Gaskin puts our own hypersensitivities in perspective, uncovering a beautiful experience rather than a dreadful, painful one. Sure, pain is part of childbirth, but preparing for the pain in a realistic rather than sentimental way--whether giving birth at home or in a hospital--can be the key to a woman's ability to deal with it naturally. Within the pages of personal anecdotes, some touching, some startling, from Gaskin's patients and colleagues, every woman is sure to find something to relate to, whether or not she chooses to have a medicine-free labor.
Spirtual Midwifery is the classic book on home birth. The first section details the experiences of parents and midwives during the birth experience. The second section is a technical manual for midwives, nurses, and doctors. Includes information on prenatal care and nutrition, labor, delivery-techniques, care of the new baby, and breast-feeding.
My Thoughts: Ina May is the ultimate childbirth educator, in my opinion. She's a wonderful speaker and professional. Her books have a personal touch to them that really spoke to me. In her Guide to Childbirth, she explains things concisely and consistently reassures you. The first section's birth stories are inspiring and uplifting - not the kind of stories you USUALLY have to endure during pregnancy! It's refreshing to hear about good experiences for a change. I thought it was interesting to see the differences between people's childbirth experiences. Ina May was and is truly an innovator in natural childbirth. This book is definitely my favorite. Spiritual Midwifery is more like a manual but I like to think of it more like the ultimate "how-to" guide for labor, delivery and baby. If you're considering having a home birth, this book will tell you pretty much anything you could need to know.

Husband-Coached Childbirth (Fifth Edition): The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth
Author: Robert A. Bradley
About: The book that started a revolution in the birthing experience and helped millions of women and their partners to a safe and natural childbirth.
The Bradley Method has changed the way men and women-and the medical establishment-think about childbirth today. Now this new, updated edition of the groundbreaking work by Robert A. Bradley, M.D., has all the information you need to approach a natural childbirth safely, confidently, and wisely. From the reasons to choose the Bradley Method to the steps you will take as your birth day approaches-and after the birth of your baby-this book is designed to help couples share completely in the birthing experience.
With its time-tested wisdom, medical soundness, and reassuring first-person accounts of natural childbirth, this book is the "gold standard" of childbirth books. The Bradley Method is an essential guide for anyone considering childbirth without unnecessary medications or medical intervention and to share fully in your child's arrival into the world.
My Thoughts: The Bradley Method is great for those with good support partners. Even though the Bradley method is called "Husband" Coached Childbirth, whoever you find most supportive can use the techniques mentioned in the Bradley methods. I had my husband and my father with me during both my children's births. They were and are both calming and reassuring support partners.
The Bradley Method has been around since 1970 and the newest edition of the book is just as good as the others. I'm glad to see that it's been updated with more current information.

HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing (3rd Edition)
Author: Marie F. Mongan
About: Childbirth is not something to be feared; it is a natural expression of life. With HypnoBirthing, your pregnancy and childbirth will become the gentle, life-affirming process it was meant to be.
In this easy-to-understand guide, HypnoBirthing founder Marie Mongan explodes the myth of pain as a natural accompaniment to birth. She proves through sound medical information that it is not our bodies but our culture that has made childbirth a moment of anguish, and that when we release the fear of birth, a fear that is keeping our bodies tense and closed, we will also release the pain.
HypnoBirthing is nature, not manipulation. It relaxes the mind in order to let the body work as it is designed. The HypnoBirthing exercises-positive thinking, relaxation, visualization, breathing and physical preparation-will lead to a happy and comfortable pregnancy, even if you are currently unsure of an intervention-free birth. Your confidence, trust and happy anticipation will in turn lead to the peaceful, fulfilling and bonding birth that is your right as a mother.
My Thoughts: When I first heard about hypnobirthing, I pictured mind control and following a swinging pendulum with your eyes. BUT that is definitely not what it is! It really just teaches you a lot of different tips & techniques to use during labor. The techniques will help you either to one - concentrate and focus or two - relax and breathe easily: both of which are things you'll need to do at different times during childbirth. The different visualization exercises I found very useful during my daughter's labor.

Also, (this is not really a book but is definitely a good natural childbirth resource) I highly recommend the DVD "The Business of Being Born." I saw it when it first came out and was just in awe. It inspired me to search for a midwife for my subsequent pregnancies and to get more active in natural childbirth education.
Synopsis: Birth is a miracle, a rite of passage, a natural part of life. But birth is also big business.
Compelled to explore the subject after the delivery of her first child, actress Ricki Lake recruits filmmaker Abby Epstein to question the way American women have babies.
The film interlaces intimate birth stories with surprising historical, political and scientific insights and shocking statistics about the current maternity care system. When director Epstein discovers she is pregnant during the making of the film, the journey becomes even more personal.
Should most births be viewed as a natural life process, or should every delivery be treated as a potentially catastrophic medical emergency?

Since writing this list awhile back several new good books have been published and others have told me of different ones that helped them - so I guess I'm going to have to make another list! :)


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