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Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin Fantastic viewpoint on the process of pregnancy, birth, and relationships in general. The hippie vibe had a way of being very stereotypical without being cliche; the author and many of the writers of the experience stories were down-to-earth, and the nature of the book made it so that many of the spiritual concepts could be applied to all of life, not just pregnancy and birth.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Amazing! Gave me the confidence to question even my midwives when they wanted to send me to the hospital due to a protocall risk. I knew my body, knew the risks and knew what would happen in the hospital. I stayed strong and delivered a happy healthy baby!!! thank you ina may! You are a gift to women and your legacy will live on in your book!!!!

Born in the USA by Marsden Wagner, MD, MS
In this rare, behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in hospitals across the country, a longtime medical insider and international authority on childbirth assesses the flawed American maternity care system, powerfully demonstrating how it fails to deliver safe, effective care for both mothers and babies. Written for mothers and fathers, obstetricians, nurses, midwives, scientists, insurance professionals, and anyone contemplating having a child, this passionate exposé documents how, in the most expensive maternity care system in the world, women have lost control over childbirth and what the disturbing results of this phenomenon have been.

Birth as an American Rite of Passage by Robbie Davis Floyd, PhD
Why do so many American women allow themselves to become enmeshed in the standardized routines of technocratic childbirth–routines that can be insensitive, unnecessary, and even unhealthy? Anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd first addressed these questions in the 1992 edition. Her new preface to this 2003 edition of a book that has been read, applauded, and loved by women all over the world, makes it clear that the issues surrounding childbirth remain as controversial as ever.

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah J. Buckley, MD
I wish that all women could read this book. Sarah Buckley lays out all the possible interventions during pregnancy and labor in an easy to understand way looking at the Benefits, Risks, Alternatives and what would happen if you did nothing for the common interventions. This book was an inspiration during my pregnancy and I feel that understanding the hormones involved during labor helped me have a beautiful birth in a birth center with my midwife.

Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block
Every pregnant woman or health care provider should read this book! It is a wealth of information and research that would cause anyone to pause and reconsider their treatment options and practitioner choices. The sway that money and Malpractice insurance issues have over the decisions made for your health in ANY medical environment is ridiculous and clearly compromises the integrity of the field.

Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy
As a nurse and mother I found the subject interesting and appreciated the historical account and details. I had no idea how awful birth had been for some. I am appalled to think that there are women who are allowed to “choose” c-sections! Major surgery, pain, limited mobility, infection (a friend died from flesh eating bacteria). It was happily Lamaze for me and home packing lunches in two days (OK, Mom came and helped – love that woman!)

Cesarean Voices published by ICAN
“You should be thankful that you and the baby are okay–100 years ago you both could have died!” I cannot remember how many times I heard that after my first cesarean. It totally discounted how I felt, what I was going through. It made me feel guilty for crying in the shower–after all, wasn’t I happy to finally have my baby? So what if she ended up in the NICU and I couldn’t hold her for her first 14 hours…I finally found a book that speaks to my experiences–the joy, the guilt, the bitterness, the aloneness. I totally recommend Cesarean Voices to anyone who is not totally happy with their birth experiences–be prepared to cry.

Birth Reborn by Michel Odent, MD
This book was inspirational for having an all-natural childbirth but still left us horribly unprepared for the traumatic event that unfolded, and in the end of the long ordeal we realized that ironically our midwife was not very helpful while the nurse that happened to be there was an angel, a god-send, and the doctor who performed the episiotomy (which was medically necessary) was an extremely skilled, cool-headed professional and was well deserving of our tears of joy and relief and gratitude!!!

The Cesarean by Michel Odent, MD
How did a magnificent rescue operation become such a common way of giving birth? And how safe is it really? Why do some countries have 10 percent caesarean births, and some more than 50 percent? Why have risky procedures, such as forceps deliveries, not been eliminated by the C-section? What are the very first microbes met by a caesarean-born baby? Is it easy to breastfeed after a caesarean? What do mother and baby miss out on by not sharing a vaginal birth? What do we know about the long-term consequences of being born by caesarean and of giving birth by caesarean? What is the future of a civilization born by caesarean? Having been involved in half a century of the history of the caesarean, Dr. Michel Odent is uniquely and authoritatively equipped to deal with these vital and urgent questions.

Creating Your Birth Plan by Marsden Wagner, MD & Stephanie Gunning
I read this book and instantly had the facts that I needed to talk to my OBGYN and family members about the risks of medical births. It was great! I have since loaned it to many other women you can finally make an informed decision about their birth preferences. p.s. my totally natural birth was amazing even though I was in a horrible hospital.

Birthing from Within by Pam England, CNM & Rob Horowitz, PhD
Great book for expectant parents. Well worth carving out the time to do the exercises, but be aware there are many exercises. This book has been around a long time, worth looking for a used copy (not because it isn’t worth $12, but because $12 could go to saving for a nice soft-structured baby carrier instead — not a Bjorn, a Becco or Ergo or BabyHawk or something). I use this and “The Birth Partner” in my childbirth education classes most of the time; I have been teaching since 2007, and it works on the emotional level in a way most other programs (excepting some really good hypno programs) don’t. Best wishes in your pregnancy and Birth!

Painless Childbirth: An Empowering Journey Through Pregnancy and Childbirth by Giuditta Tornetta
As an MD and the wife and daughter of an MD, I think we as a society place too much emphasis on medicine in all its various forms. I am one who thinks that pregnancy and birth are nothing more than an acceptable normal state for the female of the species. However, that is not to say that pregnancy and childbirth are not like all other aspects of women’s health – i.e. wide and varied definitions of normal. This book seems to resonate with my beliefs on the subject. We are inundated with pictures of women screaming in pain with childbirth and so I think the rest of us believe that is the way it needs to be. Guiditta dispells this myth and focus us on what is actually going on. We are combined with the divine, whether it be Allah, Budda or just good old fashioned “GOD” to create a new life. She focuses on this fact and uses it to help women come back to earth and realize that they too can have healthy pregnancies and painless birth. I wish I had actually read this BEFORE the third month of my pregnancy as she breaks down meditatively each month of pregnancy. She also doesn’t discount the medical aspects of things and puts proper emphasis on when to get worried, go seek medical attention, etc. This book was a fresh perspective and a breath of fresh air and will be read again prior to future pregnancies. I will give that it is a bit “new-age,” but I’m ok with that b/c I’m not that big a fan of the “old-age” stuff.

Childbirth without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth by Grantly Dick-Read and Michel Odent
This book describes why and how all women can and should go through pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and all of their reproductive functions without fear or pain, but rather in joy. While acknowledging the hard work and courage involved, the author (Grantly Dick-Read, by the way- only the forward is by Michel Odent) writes to help women understand what is happening in their bodies as they make their babies.

Immaculate Deception II: Myth, Magic and Birth by Suzanne Arms
This book gave me confidence in my ability to birth, and makes a convincing argument for the idea that childbirth is a natural, normal process, NOT a medical condition! I think everyone should read it, especially moms-to-be. I read it 7 months before conceiving my first child, and I’m so glad. I actually brought it with me to my first prenatal appointment and made it clear that I believe in natural childbirth. I went on to give birth to my 9 lb daughter drug free and episiotomy free, and I’m looking forward to having another pleasant birth experience with baby #2.

The Thinking Womans Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer & Rhonda Wheeler
I originally borrowed this book from a friend, and decided it was worth buying. I’m 8 months pregnant with my first child and want to know as much as I can about labor, delivery and birth. This book presents good information straight forward with little hedging. She begins with her basic assumptions and what she understands a doctor’s and hospital’s basic assumptions to be. She addresses a variety of topics, and the table of contents is organized so that it is easy to find the chapter you want. I’ll have to come back and supplement my review after I have my baby — I’m sure a look back with be more informed than the look forward.

Obstetric Myths vs. Research Realities by Henci Goer
If you’re wondering if natural, undrugged, or midwife-supported childbirth is for you, you need look no further than the pages of this book for the definitive answer. If you’re already a believer in the non-medicalized approach to childbearing, this book will provide the scientific ammunition you need to answer the challenges of your friends, family and doctor. Henci Goer has assembled a comprehensive array of the latest scientific literature about childbirth, and the amazing thing is that the science is on the side of alternative birthing, both in terms of maternal and neo-natal safety.

Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper & Suzanne Arms
Some of the books I looked at purchasing on this topic were very one-sided in perspective… which can be good or bad, depending on what you’re looking for. I appreciated this book, however, because it gives a very nice history of birth, both from the medical side and that of midwifery. It also paints a beautiful picture of birth and really gives you a vision for a birth experience, not a set of do’s and don’ts. The history and overview of Lamaze, Bradley, Dick-Read, and many other pioneers in “natural” childbirth are given, and all-in-all, I think Harper presents a nice combination of approaches to natural childbirth.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth
Very informative, explains things well and points out great things to think about in order to be an active participant in your pregnancy healthcare decisions. Takes more of a natural approach to pregnancy, encouraging less medical intervention while also giving unbiased scientific tools to help the pregnant mother make her own, well informed choices.

The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger
I’m 22 years old and expecting my first child in june; i’ve been trying to read as much as i can because pregnancy is a completely new experience for me. Ms Kitzinger is gives very thorough, comprehensive information on all three trimesters, labor, delivery, lactation, and postpartum care for mother, partner and baby. i’m planning to go the natural route, and although Ms Kitzinger provides a lot of information on all birth methods and possible medical interventions, whether optional or necessary due to complications, i really appreciated the advice she had for women who plan to use alternative pain management. she has a lot of advice and information for the birth partner as well, who for me will be my boyfriend. i showed him parts of the book that i found particularly helpful and now we are going through the whole book together. i was very happy, this is a very accessible, helpful book, I would recommend it to anyone who is expecting a child.

A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth by Murray Enkin

This book is an absolute “must have” for obstetrical practitioners and expectant parents who are looking for a way back into normal childbirth. Medicalized obstetrics has taught their students and society that “techno-birth” is not only logical but safe. This book proves that the way we have been delivering babies for the past 40 years is not the safest most competent care we can give. Hopefully, after reading this book, the practitioner will come away with a renewed sense of purpose in providing safe, logical, evidence-based care, and the expectant parent will take a firmer stand against allowing unnecessary and hazardous “routine” birth interventions. We are all the better for this book and the many years of sound, documented research it provides us. The next generation of babies will thank us!

The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence by Judith Lothian and Charlotte De Vries
Such a great book! So fantastic to prepare for birth, every woman depending on whether or not they are trying to go natural or having medical interventions should read this book! It covers benefits and risks to each topic and gives great advice on all avenues! Thank u Lamaze for such an informative and educational read! I read just this and felt VERY prepared for my labor, well as much as you can anyhow 🙂

Simple Guide to Having a Baby by Janet Whalley, Penny Simkin, Ann Keppler
This accessible, easy-to-read guide to pregnancy and childbirth is a simplified version of the best-selling “Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn” by the same authors, Janet Whalley, Penny Simkin and Ann Keppler. It is written for expectant parents who want basic, down-to-earth information on how to grow a baby, how to give birth to a baby and how to nourish and nurture a baby. The book includes all the important “do’s” and “don’ts” regarding pregnancy, childbirth and baby care presented in a straightforward and unintimidating way with easy-to-understand language and concepts. The book’s strength is in its readability for parents of all demographic and socio-economic backgrounds.

Your Amazing Newborn by Marshall Klaus and Phyllis Klaus
Your Amazing Newborn celebrates a baby’s extraordinary abilities in the first hours and days of life. Marshall and Phyllis Klaus take parents and all those who care for new families into this freshly charted world, one they have been exploring for decades. The results of their fascinating research are illuminated by over 120 exquisite photographs, all of babies less than two weeks old.Your Amazing Newborn begins before birth with images of fetuses actually comforting themselves in the womb. We then see newborns less than one hour old crawling unassisted to the breast, recognizing the voices of their parents, and shutting our unwanted sights and sounds. Parents will learn how to discover an infant’s clear preferences for certain shapes, smells, tastes, and tones of voice. They will be delighted by the ways babies seem to be able to ensure their own survival, and they will be amazed that within days after birth, newborns can engage in an intimate and reciprocal choreography, and nestle into a parent’s embrace as though they had practiced for years. Your Amazing Newborn is a must for parents-to-be, grandparents, siblings, and caregivers; through its stunning photographs we see the first reach, the first mutual gaze-and most wonderful of all-the first spark of recognition that ignites a lifetime bond.

The Big Book of Birth by Erica Lyon
It is very hard to find a good book on labor that presents the facts without being overtly biased towards the “natural” birth movement; however this book does a really good job of presenting the facts of labor without choosing sides. I looked for a long time to find a book that presented labor from a hospital perspective without being full of hearsay and fear tactics and this is the book! Erica Lyon does a great job explaining what will happen during the different stages of labor and what your different options are in terms of pain management, etc. I feel like it was written for smart women who want the facts and I will be re-reading it for our second child coming soon.

Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America, Expanded Edition by Richard W. Wertz and Dorothy C. Wertz
This book is a great read about the history of childbirth in America. Despite some weird references in the book about “magic” and “midwives” — not really sure what the author was referring to –I felt like the book in general has a great review of the history of childbirth in America. Anyway, there is some biographical information about various people responsible for more natural birth ideals such as Read and Lamaze. So, this is a great book to learn from. Worth the cost of this book!