When I first got pregnant, I remember my mother sending me tons of books, as well as perusing the pregnancy aisle at the library and bookstore. There is a plethora of labor books out there, but not all of them support natural birth, especially home birth. Thankfully, my midwives had a lending library, and one book Special Delivery was required reading. In this list of essential books for natural birth, I’ve also included two books by Ina May that were highly recommended as well by my midwives.
What makes a pregnancy book essential reading for natural birth? I think a natural birth book should support all women’s choices, both home and hospital births, as well as carefully explain all of the interventions that could happen if medically needed. The book should support women, as well as realistically discuss how each labor is unique.
Essential Books for a Natural Birth
- Special Delivery by Rahima Baldwin: This book can be hard to find, but it is well worth the hunt. This book prepares you for all aspects of a home or hospital birth, and we read many times to be prepared in case we didn’t make it town in time during my labors. My first child was a breech baby, but she turned thanks to this book! Rahima explains an exercise where mother’s lay with on their backs, knees bent, and pelvis highly elevated. When followed precisely, this method turns babies 85% of the time. It worked for my daughter, and I have this book to thank!
- Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin: This was the very first book given to me when I was pregnant. I could not get enough of the birth stories, although I highly doubted I would have a psychedelic, orgasmic experience in a labor. From this book, I learned about nipple stimulation to bring on labor, a much more natural approach than pitocin but slightly embarrassing in front of your mother! As the title implies, birth should be a spiritual experience. It is how we enter life in this body; it is a sacrament. This often gets lost in the medical world. Of course, this book is full of practical advice as well.
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth: I think this is absolutely the best book on childbirth! I give it to everyone I know who is pregnant, whether they are planning a natural birth or not. This book is obviously pro-home birth, but it explains labor and complications in such a manner that educates. It is important to know what sort of complications can occur and what interventions are necessary, optional, or how to avoid them. Ina May’s statistics are amazing and truly demonstrate how natural birth really is. Reading this book helped me learn to trust my body (and my baby’s) and not focus on the pain of labor.
This list is far from extensive, as I wanted to just highlight a few books I found particularly useful. Obviously, I love Ina May, so her books dominate this list. I would love it if our readers and writers left suggestions for other great pregnancy books as a comment to this post.
More Labor of Love posts and birth stories:
- Labor of Love: Julian’s Birth Story
- Labor of Love: Home Birth is a Choice that the AMA Wants to Outlaw
- Labor of Love: All Things in Their Own “Sweet” Time
- Labor of Love: My Daughter’s Home Birth, Hemorrhage Story
- Labor of Love: Bypassing a Scheduled Cesarean – Natural VBAC
- Labor of Love: My Son’s Water Home Birth and Congenital Heart Defect
- Labor of Love: Positive Natural Birthing Experience After Posterior Labor