I read a LOT of books while I was pregnant. Some good, some GREAT, some bad, some meh. Here’s my rundown of pregnancy and childbirth books and how I felt about each one, in the order that I read them.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting – This seems to be the book people always say “oh you need to read it” when you are a first time mom. But honestly I was very meh about it. I didn’t finish it, and I think a lot of the information is antiquated and also has a bit of scare tactics of all the things that can “go wrong” giving women the idea that childbirth and pregnancy is risky and scary.
The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy – I read this one and what to expect at the same time and I felt like it was a funnier version of the latter. Some parts made me laugh and think it was nice to know all women went through all the weird stuff that does happen to you during pregnancy. But some was just annoying. I honestly would skip both of those and just look around at articles on babycenter and at handouts from your doctor to get an idea of all the regular stuff of pregnancy.
Belly Laughs – This was a quick read and had it’s funny parts, but again I say Meh. Not anything different than what you’d get from other moms or online sources.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – If you only read one book about birth, I would say that reading the second half of Ina May’s guide is the one to go with. This is what truly changed my views on childbirth and helped me realize that it was something completely normal that our bodies are meant to do and that birth doesn’t have to look like the complete medical model that society feeds us. It also helped me realize what outside sources may affect labor’s ability to proceed, i.e. privacy, a respectful care provider, interventions, etc. I am so thankful that my friend Lori let me borrow it and that our childbirth educator also recommended it. (The first half is birth stories from Ina May, which are also great to read, but the second half gets into the nitty gritty)
Natural Hospital Birth – This one I read after I realized what I might be up against in the hospital trying to get a natural birth. Since so many commonplace non-evidence based practices are the norm in hospitals, this book gives a great outlook of what you will likely encounter and also how to best put together a birth plan, and why having a birth plan is important. That being said, I like what my doula said in that the best place to have your baby is a place where everything in your birth plan comes standard. Where essentially you don’t even need a birth plan. I am so thankful to have delivered at Sutter Davis where pretty much 98% of my birth plan was their standard procedure. We just wanted the newborn tests and procedures explained to us as they were happening. 🙂 I can’t speak highly enough about Sutter Davis.
Birthing from Within – As my friend Lori put it, this is one of the more “hippie” birth books, and while yes there is a lot of drawing exercises and stuff that I didn’t do, it had a lot of helpful information and wasn’t a huge repeat of Ina May’s guide. I did particularly like their section geared towards fathers and the different little “cut out” reminder cards. I had Chris read those and made copies for the hospital.
Your Best Birth – This one is written by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein who produced “The Business of Being Born.” I’d say watch the documentary and skip the book. Also maybe because I’d already read Ina May, Natural Hospital Birth and Birthing from Within when I got to this one, so there was a lot of repeat information. But I do think this one does lay out your birth options really clearly. And really professes that you do have a choice.
Spiritual Midwifery – My friend Sarah loaned me this one, and I read part of it, though not all of it. This is Ina May’s first book. The stories in Ina May’s Guide are similar to that of spiritual midwifery and give you comfort in birth’s natural processes.
Baby Catcher – I love love LOVED this book! I read it after Clare was born, but Peggy Vincent is not only an awesome midwife but a great writer too. The book is separated into stories of different births that span her midwife career. It’s wonderful and really makes me feel confident in my choice to pursue the childbirth field as a career option.
Other birth books that I would like to read are Birth Matters, by Ina May and Pushed: The Painful Truth about Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block. Both are near the top of my To Read List.
Hopefully if you are an expecting mom, or know one, this list can provide a jumping off point for your own reading and research. I do wish I’d read many of them earlier in pregnancy instead of closer to the end. I also wish I’d taken birth classes earlier on. As a childbirth educator once I’m certified I will definitely encourage women to explore these options earlier on.
Other mamas, did you read a different book than the ones listed here that you would recommend? I’d love to add it to my lists of resources for once I’m ICEA certified.