There are so many books out there about pregnancy and childbirth, that going to the bookstore can often feel very overwhelming. You can't read them all, so which ones do you choose? There are a lot of very good books, and a lot of equally bad books. In this post, we will look at a few books that I recommend and why. Of course, there are a lot of great books out there that aren't on this list. Feel free to recommend your favorites in the comments at the bottom of the page.
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn
By Penny Simkin, PT; Janet Whalley, RN, IBCLC; Ann Keppler, RN,MN; Janelle Durham, MSW, ICCE, LCCE; and April Bolding, PT, DPT, CD, CCE
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn is a complete guide to childbirth. It teaches you what to expect throughout each stage of your pregnancy. It goes over nutrition, exercise, and what changes to expect in your body and in the development of your new baby. This book also talks about planning for your birth and postpartum period, what to expect during each stage of your labor, Cesarean birth, and what happens once the baby is born. You will also learn about complications that may arise during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. It is a very well rounded book and definitely worth a read.
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth
By Henci Goer
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth takes a very practical look at childbirth and what to expect. She breaks down what happens at a birth and the interventions and complications that may arise. It presents the pros and cons of each procedure in a way that encourages women to make their own informed decisions. I recommend that my doula clients orient themselves with any procedure that may be presented so that if they agree to something, they know what they are agreeing with. This book is a great way to learn about the benefits as well as the downsides to any intervention during childbirth.
By Ina May Gaskin
I love Ina May Gaskin's books. They are very good about not only informing the reader, but presenting material in a way that makes you feel good. I recommend that all mothers read this book to help alleviate any fears or concerns they may have. The beginning of the book is full of beautiful birth stories recounted by the mothers, fathers, and midwives who were there. The stories are full of joy and confidence, and even the births that don't go as planned are written in such a way that the reader does not feel uncomfortable or afraid. The second part of the book is a comprehensive guide to childbirth. It goes over the mechanics of birth, interventions, and complications. It is definitely worth a read especially for any mamas who are worried or fearful about their upcoming birth.
When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads
By Dr. Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein
This book is one of the best that I have come across regarding pregnancy and childbirth with multiples. Many books about pregnancy don't really address multiples, and if they do, it is just a small section. This book is a wonderful resource for any woman who is expecting more than one baby. It goes over many things that are unique to a multiple pregnancy and birth and focuses on the difference between expecting one versus expecting multiple babies.
The Birth Partner
By Penny Simkin
Originally published in 1989, The Birth Partner has been a beloved resource for partners for over 15 years. In it, Penny Simkin, one of the foremost authorities on pregnancy and childbirth, addresses the partner instead of the mother. This book is a great read for anyone who is planning to attend a birth as a support person and wishes to be well informed. It goes over what you will observe and experience in the labor room and how you can help. You will learn what happens in an emergency situation, the effects of different medications, and about interventions and procedures that may be suggested. I highly recommend this book for anyone who will be attending a birth.
Your Amazing Newborn
By Marshall H. Klaus, M.D. and Phyllis H. Klaus, C.S.W., M.F.C.C.
Your Amazing Newborn is a really fun read. It is about all of the amazing things that a newborn baby is capable of. It is full of beautiful photographs of babies interacting with adults and their surroundings, and has a lot of suggestions of ways that you can interact with your new baby.
Touchpoints: The Essential Reference
By T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.
First printed in 1992, Touchpoints is still one of the most popular references for infant and child development. Dr. Brazelton's book is about child development from pregnancy though the first 6 years, with quite a bit of focus on infancy. He talks about the different phases that children go through in their early years, and addresses many concerns that parents have such as colic, feeding problems, and sleep problems for infants, as well as concerns in older children such as dealing with emotions, fears, bedwetting, illness, interactions with other children, and so much more.
Wise Woman Herbal For The Childbearing Year
By Susan S. Weed
This book is a great guide to herbal remedies. It is well written and provides some great tips for women who are interested in using herbal treatments for a variety of concerns. It covers pre-conception, pregnancy, the postpartum period, and infant care. Before using herbal remedies, I recommend that you consult a doctor, midwife, or herbalist who is familiar with alternative therapies, particularly if what you are hoping to treat could be considered life threatening or if you are new to using herbal treatments.
You may notice that I have not included any breastfeeding guides. That is because while there are a lot of great books out there to help with common breastfeeding concerns, I tend to disagree with the way the information is presented. Many breastfeeding books tend to be hard on moms who haven't had the ideal experience. They can often come off as scolding toward mothers who didn't have the perfect unmedicated birth, or who have supplemented with formula for one reason or another. While many of these books have great suggestions and I have them in my lending library, I hesitate to recommend a book that may make someone feel bad.
I hope that you find these books to be helpful. Please feel free to leave your comments about the books discussed in this post, or recommend your favorites!
Meet the Author
Amanda Tarver, (LMT, CEIM, PES, RMT) is a massage therapist and birth worker in the Chicago area. She is dedicated to using a combination of bodywork and education to help people live a better quality of life.