BUT Choose Your Reading
There is a staggering array of books out there on pregnancy and childbirth. It can be hard task to choose one that pinpoints natural birth as it’s main focus. One of the first thing a woman does after she sees those two pink lines is to run out to the book store to find a manual. She may not know it but this book may big the largest factor in shaping her birth experience. We tend to believe what we read and if we only read one book we tend to think of it as gospel. I can’t tell you how many woman have told me that they consider What to Expect When your Expecting was their birthing bible. Consider that this is what it has to say about natural birth:
Throughout the 1970’s and into the 1980, single-minded woman waged war against recalcitrant physicians; the cry was "natural child birth for all". Today enlightened practitioners and patients alike recognize that wanting relief from excruciating pain is natural, and that therefore pain relief medication can play a role in natural childbirth
In two short sentences this book alienates those woman who seek information on natural childbirth. First off this author calls us woman who believe all have the right to natural child birth "single-minded". This is a very narrow view of why many woman advocate natural childbirth. Secondly they comment on how birth is "excruciating". Though this seems to be the standard thoughts on labor, there have been many woman who have had pain free labors or who have manageable and empowering. Fear is a major factor in increasing pain, if one believes the many horrible misconceptions of birth it is no wonder that they are scared and therefore in much greater pain. Lastly the contradiction in terms regarding pain medication playing a role in natural childbirth is absurd You can not have a natural birth that is medicated, by its very definition it is unmedicated. This author confuses natural childbirth as simply being vaginal birth-that is not so.
Would you chose a book that has this to say regarding natural birth to guide all your other ideas about it? The key is finding a book that melds with you basic paradigm on pregnancy and birth. It is likely that if many of the fundamental aspects of the book jive with you beliefs that the things you have no idea about will be discussed in terms you will understand and will fit with your general outlook on pregnancy and birth.
Many woman I have spoken with have expressed that educating themselves through reading made all the difference in how they perceived birth and in turn influenced the out come. This is what some of them had to say:
"If a woman has no independent information, all they can do is believe the doctors/nurses & old wives tales."
"I fully believe that if I had not educated myself so well before Birche's birth I definitely would have been transferred w/ a C-section. Instead, after my sonogram at 5 months I did tons of research on breech deliveries. So I felt comfortable knowing that even if she didn't turn, I would still be able to have the birth I wanted...and I did"
"…reading too much mainstream things can scare you into thinking you can't have an uncomplicated birth,
"I think it is imperative that you understand what is going to happen to your body and that you know the things you will need to do to support yourself through your birth experience."
"I bought this book (The Pregnancy Sourcebook by M. Sara Rosenthal) when I was pregnant with Michele and let me tell you just how much it undermined my faith in my body and made me into a complete bumbling worry wart. AVOID THIS BOOK AT ALL COSTS!!"
"Most books that dwell on "complications" will make things worse. The only books I read were Spiritual Midwifery the Sheila Kitzinger Homebirth book and articles specifically on homebirth."
Here is a list of books recommended by womyn whom have had natural home deliveries. When polled on "What book would you recommend to a first time mother or a mother who wanted a natural birth, if you could only recommend one?" These were the suggestions:
Reading this book brought a big smile to my face and taught me to celebrate my body, for after reading it I was sure I could be whole again. I photocopied the cover of this book and stuck it in Clara's baby book, on the childbirth preparation page. Review by Lori at the Attachments catalog.
Book available at
www.bestfed.com Book available from www.childbirth.org/bornfree/order.htm
Laura and her husband delivered their first child without the aid of a doctor or midwife. Laura alone delivered the next three children, assisted by her belief that giving birth was a natural process for which a woman's body had been well designed. Shanley's birth experiences, combined with subsequent research, have confirmed her belief that with the proper mindset, delivering one's own baby is the safest, most fulfilling way to give birth. Shanley gives numerous references, both historical and contemporary, to support her theory. She tells of her own experiences in childbirth as well as those of other women who have given birth without medical assistance. Although many contemporary writers deal with the concept that we create our own reality according to our beliefs, Shanley is the first to fully apply this to the birthing experience. Review from
The touching sequel to the classic that changed maternity care in the US and was named a "Best Book of the Year" by the New York Times. In this new version, Suzanne tells how modern birth practices evolved, talks about challenges and commonly held beliefs, and explores the subjects of pain and fear in birth. Review by Lori at Attachments catalog. Book available at
Review by Amazon.com. Available at www.amazon.com
Not surprisingly In The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth, William and Martha Sears, authors of The Baby Book and creators of the concept of "attachment parenting," here turn their attention to the birth experience. In this helpful resource guide, the Sears' cover the gamut of possibilities, and teach readers what they need to know to take control of their own birthing. The Birth Book is divided into three parts: "Preparing for Birth," "Easing Pain in Labor," and "Experiencing Birth." You'll find details about vaginal births; cesareans; VBACs; water births; home births; best birthing positions; drugs; pain; how to design your own birth plan; the humor, chemistry, and sexuality of birth; and pages and pages of birth stories
The majority of obstetric procedures, from putting on a hospital gown to the birthing position itself, are unnecessary and sometimes dangerous rituals that are perpetuated by an authoritarian system in its desire to maintain control over a virtually uncontrollable process. Robbie Davis-Floyd has studied these rituals of birth; why taking the ride to L&D in the wheelchair sets up an invalid mindset in the laboring woman, and how the lithotomy position robs the woman of her birthing power, forcing her to rely on the medical professions to deliver her baby for her. It is powerful stuff and difficult to accept, but truth sometimes is. Review by reader at amazon.com. Available at
The bible of cesarean prevention." Wall Street Journal "A landmark event, which will change the course of obstetric care by giving parents the information they need to make the decisions that are best for their own families. Comprehensive, highly readable, sensitive . . . should be read by everyone who cares about someone." Marian Tompson Director, Alternative Birth Crisis Coalition American Academy of Medicine "Required reading for all childbirth professionals and prospective parents." Journal of Gynecological Nursing Review by amazon.com. Book Available at
This book is a 90's continuation of Silent Knife, with updated ideas and statistics. A perfect compliment to the first book. Review by Lori at Attachments catalog. Book available at
A Good Birth, A Safe Birth is one of the top birth preparation books. Every woman should read it. A lot of women speak through this book. A lot of women’s lives will be changed by reading it. Review by Peggy OMara, Publisher of Mothering Magazine. Available at
Designed to help women develop all their bodily resources to deal with the instinctive processes of labor and childbirth, this guide is also intended for midwives, partners, teachers, and others involved in making the experience a more active one for the mother. Contains a wealth of information for pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period. 100 illustrations; 100 photographs Review by Chapters.com. Book available at
Since the Bradley method was first introduced in 1970, a growing number of expectant parents have opted for natural childbirth, knowing that it's safer than medicated or surgical delivery. But where can parents-to-be go for information on how to have a successful Bradley birth? This book provides all the answers, offering sound advice on how to prepare physically for labor and what to expect during each of its stages. Synopsis by Amazon.com. Book available at
Believe it or not, birth resulting from a normal pregnancy needn't take place in a hospital. Harper explains why birthing centers and home births, along with other "gentle birth choices," are beneficial to both mother and baby. With a foreword by Robbie Davis Floyd, who wrote Birth as an American Rite of Passage (1992), Gentle Birth Choices also features a history of how childbirth came to be so technological and blasts myths such as why fetal monitors save babies (they don't, very often). Harper also discusses giving birth in water and explores the connection of mind and body during labor and birth. She stresses the importance of midwives for a more natural and satisfying experience. Well illustrated with photos by acclaimed birth photographer Suzanne Arms and containing a first-rate resource section, Gentle Birth Choices provides an excellent alternative to mainstream birth books. Jo Peer-Haas
Copyright© 1994, American Library Association. All rights reserved Book available at
Anyone working to improve the childbearing experience and help women avoid unnecessary intervention has encountered numerous "obstetric myths" or "old doctors' tales." And while the evidence in the medical literature may be solidly, often unequivocally, against whatever "the doctor said," without access to that evidence, the pregnant woman is quite reasonably going to follow her doctor. This book is an attempt to make the medical literature on a variety of key obstetric issues accessible to people who lack the time, expertise, access, or proximity to a medical library to research concerns on their own. This compact, accurate, yet understandable reference is designed for people without medical training and organized for easy access. Book available at
The single most empowering birth book I have encountered. Mind you, it has been over 13 years since I last read this book. I lent my copy out and lost track of it. I intend to replace it, however, because it is the single most empowering birth book I have encountered--and I've read many. Odent, through his own experience as a physician in Africa and France, developed a highly humble and respectful attitude toward a woman's innate ability to give birth--when supported and given an environment in which she is granted the space, safety and integrity to deliver her child. It was his confidence in and reverence for women and the birth experience that mightily empowered me in my second delivery, which was a home birth. I recommend this book for every mother-to-be regardless of the place and format she has selected for her delivery. In fact, it should be required reading as a part of prenatal care worldwide. Review by reader at Amazon.com. Book available at
Childbirth should be one of the most joyful experiences in a woman's life. All too frequently it is one of the most fearful. Gayle Peterson, a nationally recognized leader in the field of perinatal psychology, prepares the mother-to-be for the most positive experience possible, utilizing a childbirth preparation method based on medical research that shows emotional factors to be important in a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Guided imagery, visualization, and journal writing help the mother-to-be learn ways of yielding comfortably and safely into the entire childbirth process. Review by Chapters.com. Book available at www.chapters.ca
People need to know the information contained in Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love. The mainstream medical presentation of birth does not tell men and women all of the facts and issues that they should know. After two years of research, I found that a majority of unassisted birthers have healthy pregnancies, safer, shorter and more satisfying labors and birth experiences that leave them ecstatic for many years. The secrets revealed in this book will help any couple approaching childbirth. Review by the author. Book Available at
For parents-to-be who are considering home birth, <i>Special Deliver</i>y is an excellent resource. Written by midwife Rahima Baldwin Dancy in the '70s and updated in 1986, this book covers the benefits of home births; gives details on how to have a home birth, including pregnancy preparations; and coaches’ participants on specific ways they can help the mother. The easy-to-comprehend-in-the-middle-of-a-crisis details on what can go wrong, what to do, and when to bring the mother to the hospital are outstanding. The flavor and photographs of Special Delivery are a bit outdated, but the information is still vital and very helpful. Review by Amazon.com. Book available at
After four hospital births, I was finally fed up with impersonal childbirth. This book was one of the first books I read while preparing for the homebirth of our fifth child. It was one of the few birth books that evoked respect for babies and peace at birth as opposed to a clinical presentation of birth. Our culture needs more books of this sort to show women that we need to birth our babies in a much more dignified manner, taking into consideration a genuine love for babies. Expectant couples everywhere should take a look at "Birth without Violence." Beautiful writing style and great photos! Review by Lynn M. Griesemer, author of UNASSISTED HOMEBIRTH: AN ACT OF LOVE. Book available at
Childbirth underwater, or water birth, recently gained widespread acceptance throughout the world, although early proponents in the Soviet Union began experimenting with the process in the 1960s. Napierala, a midwife experienced at attending both home and water births, covers in some detail the origins of labor and delivery underwater, the benefits that submersion provides mother and infant, its advantages in comparison with other birthing options, and prenatal preparations for childbirth in general and water birth in particular. She also advises on such matters as construction and maintenance of a water tank, first- and second-stage labor in water--including complications and contraindications--and postpartum recovery. Her final chapter presents birth stories, and she inserts accounts of her own experiences throughout the text. Her serious, empathic tone suits the contents, helping make the book a readable REVIEW of a viable but not widely understood alternative to traditional in-hospital childbirth.<i> Kathryn Carpenter
Copyright© 1994, American Library Association. All rights reserved</i> Book available at
Elizabeth Davis's Heart and Hands, though subtitled A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, is not just for midwives. It's an excellent and thorough resource for parents-to-be who are thinking about delivering their child with a midwife, or who are concerned about the medical establishment's over-control of birth. (Two previous editions sold more than 100,000 copies and there are nowhere near 100,000 midwives or midwifery students to buy this book, proving that parents-to-be have looked to this resource for options.) Review by Amazon.com. Book available at
Although I have not read all of these books myself they all come highly recommended. Happy reading!Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff, Sandee E. Hathaway,