I have received a number of requests for a book list of recommendations prior, during and after pregnancy. The challenge is my ever expanding library of all things birth and postpartum is tough to narrow down, so I will just share most of what I have and a few insights on them. As a wise midwife shared with me early on in my pregnancy with my first, flip open the book and read a bit, if it fits into your lifestyle, values, etc. then it’s for you, if not put it down and keep exploring! So with that in mind see pick and choose from this list and beyond to find which books are “best” for you and the birth you desire. Have fun and remember information can be power when it comes to birth!
If you are in the pre-conception process of pregnancy I cannot recommend enough Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler to learn more about the nuances of what your body does each month, that magical window of opportunity to conceive and to learn more about your body (newsflash: we aren’t one size fits all so ovulation time etc is different for each person and sometimes each month!)
The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland is my go to guide vs. the well known what to expect book series (personally those take a more fear based approach). Not only is it full of great information and explaining your options, she also includes some great recipes. I often use her website as a resource.
Any and all Ina May Gaskin books are in my top list of recommended books. Her Guide to Childbirth is my #1 favorite, as is Spiritual Midwifery. Both are full of inspiring birth stories and greatly appeal to my hippy ways. She also has a great breastfeeding book.
Two newer books that I have enjoyed reading this pregnancy and would now be in my top list are Birth Without Fear by January Harshe and A Story of Radical Birth Love by Maryn Green & Margo Blackstone. Harshe’s book is a must in my opinion as she really lays out all options and way to feel in your power with whatever option you choose (whether that be homebirth, birth center, hospital, vaginal or cesarean). Green & Blackstone provide a beautiful winding road of how they got to where they are as midwives and holding space for autonomous births. Both Harshe and Green have online communities worth checking out too.
Other ones for childbirth:
- Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke
- The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer *only browsed
- Pushed by Jennifer Block
- The Calm Birth Method by Suzy Ashworth
- Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley *have not read yet, on my to do list!
I always recommend The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin to all expecting people’s partners and anyone who wants a lay out of laboring options, a simple explanation of the labor process and all the various routes birth can take. My husband will agree it’s a great one for soon to be new dads/partners to even just flip through if knowledge is something that gives you confidence in supporting your birthing person.
Then there’s the fourth trimester or postpartum books. #1 is now Kimberly Johnson’s The Fourth Trimester book as it is a must to create a postpartum plan, simple exercises to reconnect with your body after giving birth, among many other important nuggets of information that are beyond valuable during that vulnerable time.
The First Forty Days is another great one that I am hoping to pick up this postpartum. Heng Ou provides nourishing recipes and self care practices to heal and restore the birthing person.
Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields is what prompted me to finally get into a therapist a year after having my first to uncover my postpartum anxiety.
The 4th Trimester Bodies Project by Ashlee Wells is not only a beautiful book, but an amazing community and opportunity if you can participate. The kids and I did this after a year after my second was born and the photos I have are ones I will cherish forever. The community conversation I cannot even put words to and the space Ashlee holds for all birthing people to see themselves as strong and powerful is exactly what we need more of.
Another great photo book is The Bodies of Mothers by Jade Beall.
I am sure I am forgetting many great ones out there and likely many from my own library! Enjoy this starting point and may you have the birth you so dream of!