First, a quick “don’t”: Don’t make yourself crazy. This isn’t a required reading list; you don’t have to get through all the books here. Pick the ones that work for you, and read when you can. Giving up naps for a pregnancy book isn’t always the best choice. Also, be careful on the internet. There’s a ton of great information, and of course, plenty of outdated, urban legends, and just plain wrong stuff there. Stick to reputable sources and always check with your healthcare provider if you’re not sure!
OUR FAVORITE BOOKS
The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, by Sheila Kitzinger – While our doulas agree that pretty much any book by Kitzinger rocks, this is the one to
start with. The most recent version has been completely updated, and this book covers it all: testing, what happens when, dealing with labor, birth positions, immediate postpartum. If you’re going to just do one, this might be your best bet. Tons of easy to understand info, and over 300 pictures, diagrams, etc. Literally, Kitzinger wrote the book on childbirth! Speaking of which…
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin – Another author we doulas love, Ina May is a world-renown midwife, who has delivered thousands of babies. Her woman-and-family centered style is low-intervention and very different from the medical model many of us are used to. While some feel that Ina May skews a little hippie-ish, the birth stories are very encouraging to those hoping for an empowering, natural birth.
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, by Susan McCutcheon - No surprise here as several of our doulas are also Bradley educators! Not just for people planning to take Bradley classes, but a great place to start. Even if you’re not sure an unmedicated birth is for you, this book has plenty of information you can use with or without medication.
Natural Hospital Birth, by Cynthia Gabriel – Most women in the US will birth in a hospital, but it doesn’t have to feel like a hospital. Deciding what is important to you and how to ask for it, this book can guide you in having a low or no intervention birth, even in a hospital setting.
The Birth Partner Book, by Penny Simkin – this one isn’t just for you, but for the loved one going with you. It’s a required book for DONA certified doulas and one we always recommend for husbands, partners, or whoever will be supporting you. Clear information about what will be happening during birth and how best to support a laboring woman. Simkin is another doula favorite author!
So That’s What Their For, by Janet Tamaro – A delightful, very informative book for those planning to breastfeed. Full of data and research, but easy to read and to find what you need later, this book is even recommended by the La Leche League.
What to Expect the First Year, by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel - While we’re not crazy about the “While Expecting” book, this book, broken down by months of the first year of life, is handy to have around and can answer lots of those new mom questions. Read just the month you’re entering, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
JUST FOR FUN
The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy, by Vickie Iovine does have some good advice, but more than that it will make you laugh! Getting ready for birth shouldn’t just be like cramming for a final.
Belly Laughs, by Jenny McCarthy - While McCarthy has become somewhat of a polarizing figure due to some of her very public stances, this book is lighthearted and really will make your ever-larger belly shake. Definitely not a preparation for childbirth, but a great way to relax and laugh at the sometimes ridiculous journey to motherhood.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Pregnancy Childbirth, and the Newborn – Penny Simkin PT, Janet Whalley RN IBCLC, Ann Keppler RN MN
Spiritual Midwifery – Ina May Gaskin
The Doula Book – Marshall H. Klauss
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – Diane Wiessinger, Diana West, Teresa Pitman
Breastfeeding for Dummies – Sharon Perkins, Carol Vannais
The Happiest Baby on the Block – Harvey Karp, MD
The Girlfiend’s Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood – Vickie Iovine