I met a friend for tea recently and she told me she was pregnant! I am so excited and honored she told me first (well, 3rd after her husband and midwife!) 🙂
She also asked my recommendations for pregnancy-related books. I was about to send her this list but thought you might be interested in it as well. Pregnancy and birth have become a favorite topic of mine. Why? To quote my doula and favorite childbirth educator in NYC, “Its the ordinary extraordinary.” And because this country needs to learn to trust in the beautiful magic that IS natural childbirth, and in women’s absolutely amazing and incredible bodies to do this natural job.
Anyway… back to the books!
The first thing I told her was to NOT listen to all the negative birth horror stories friends and family feel the need to share, and also not to read “What to Expect When Expecting.” Solid advice I personally received when I was pregnant!
Now on to my favorite pregnancy books that I’m looking at on my shelf right now! 🙂
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin.
An excellent blend of birth stories and advice from the most well-known midwife in the country. When I was pregnant and living in NYC at the time, I had the honor of meeting Ina May in person. I felt like I was meeting a celebrity – all giddy and excited and really wanted to ask her to be my midwife but A.) I already had a midwife and B.) the commute to Tennessee would have been a bit much! I refrained, but we still had a nice chat.
Spiritual Midwifery – Ina May Gaskin
This book, also by Ina May, is in some sense what started the modern “midwife” trend. Even though it was written in 1978, it’s still worth reading today. It really resonated with me with its affirmations and positive message.
Your Best Birth: Know all Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices and Take Back the Birth Experience by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein
This is the book that goes along with the documentary The Business of Being Born, by the same authors. (I also recommend the movie). It gives a good overview of the different options (traditional and non-traditional) for birth in the US. The movie has appearances by Ina May and Cara Muhlhahn (an amazing nurse/midwife in NYC who I almost used for the birth of my daughter (but was already booked up!) but ended up being a great confidant, friend and guide to me when I was pregnant).
Childbirth Without Fear by Dr. Grantly Dick Read
My dear friend (who’s a massage therapist) gave me this book when she found out I was pregnant. Its message is that pregnancy and birth should be a joyful experience, not surrounded with fear. It’s by an obstetrician who goes through and soothes all the common sources of fear and anxiety around childbirth. It’s almost 75 years old, so I found it a little hard to read at times, but the message is one I think every pregnant woman needs to hear!
Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pan England and Rob Horowitz
This book is a guide to finding your own strength and wisdom surrounding your birth experience. There were a few meditations/visualizations in here that I really liked. There are some good (and honest) sections on managing the pain of childbirth as well as a lot of activities like journaling and painting to help you get in touch with your deeper emotions around it and facing your fears.
This was the book for the Bradley Birth Class I took in NYC. I really recommend taking a birthing class. Even if you don’t though, this book is a very thorough discussion of natural childbirth, ways and techniques of how to do it.
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
This book was another one my Bradly instructor had us get. It’s targeted to your partner, so I didn’t read much of it. My husband did and said he found it helpful, so if you’re getting a few books you might want to pick this one up for your partner!
HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie Mongan
Hypnobirthing is an empowering technique for using meditation, breathing and visualizations to reduce the pain of childbirth. It can also shorten the duration of labor, reduce the need for drugs or other interventions, and reduce the risk of unplanned c-sections. I didn’t get the chance to use it with my daughter (she came too fast!), but I think it’s a great idea!