In the last month before Lily was born, as my stress over the doctor/hospital situation went up, I borrowed nearly a dozen books on birth from the library and started researching. I wanted to be informed when we talked to the doctor and I wanted to know as much as I could in order to prepare for the best birth. I thought I had learned a lot before Sunshine’s birth; now I learned even more. Out of the books I read, here are the top three that I think every expecting mom should read.
Rediscovering Birth by Sheila Kitzinger—less a book on how to have a good birth and more a book on birth in general, this was an excellent resource. Sheila is a birth activist who looks at birthing practices around the world and through history.
I found this very helpful as it made me question some of our North American practices of birth (the common assumptions we make about how babies come) and be more open to trying something new (like squatting to deliver). I also appreciated the sense that Sheila gave of birth being a natural, womanly process, one that I was uniquely equipped to perform.
Gentle Birth Choices
Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper—a registered nurse, Barbara talks about the options available to women in today’s medical environment and what choices are the best for mom and baby. She questions the use of some technology, such as electronic fetal monitoring, during birth and shows how simpler can be better.
While many of the stats and information in the book are American, I would assume that Canada is very similar. Among the appendices in the back of her book, I found the birth plan I altered to fit what I wanted and gave to the hospital for Lily’s birth. Like Sheila’s book, Barbara’s made me feel good about giving birth.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin—I’ve heard about Ina May Gaskin since seeing the midwives for Sunshine’s birth, but didn’t pick up any of her books until now.
In the first half of the book, Ina May tells a host of birth stories—stories radically different from those commonly shown in TV or in mainstream fiction. In the second half of the book, she discusses things she learned as a midwife on a commune in Texas, helping women give birth at home without technology or drugs. Often funny (at some points I was laughing out loud and had to read paragraphs to my husband), very factual, Ina May’s book was a delight to read.
Rosina, the Midwife isn’t specifically about birth, but explores this topic through one woman’s research about her grandmother’s life. Jessica begins the story with a powerful yet imagined scene of her grandmother rushing to a baby’s birth. She then turns to herself and her own struggles over an unplanned pregnancy. Then she takes us with her on her search for more information about Rosina, her great-great-grandmother.
Time for a shameless plug of my own book, Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby, co-written by my amazing friend Anna who is a mom of ten babies now. Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby includes some of my most popular posts on pregnancy, as well as extra chapters I’ve never shared on the blog.
We share tips and advice for each trimester of pregnancy and the first three months after baby’s birth. There are also five beautiful poems by Anna about pregnancy and motherhood. We’ve also included our birth stories, as examples of natural childbirth and to show how each birth is different.
If you are a mom, what books or resources did you find helpful during your pregnancy?