7 Empowering Books to Inform Your Birth Journey

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To be honest I'm not so much of a natural bookworm. Sitting down and reading can feel like a real chore, but each of the books below have been a pleasure for me to hold and gather wisdom from. Take a peek inside each one in the pictures, and get a quick glimpse into why you might want to add some of these to your bookshelf. And if you're eager, the titles are links to Amazon (though you might want to check with some other parents or birth workers for freebies first)!

The Birth Partner
Penny Simkin, P.T.

• Great for partners and birthing parents
• Explains each stage of labor in terms of "What Is It," "How Long Does It Last," "What Does the Mother [Birthing Parent] Feel," "What Does the Caregiver Do," and "How Might You [Partner] Feel?"
• Great for creating your birth preferences

Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn
Penny Simkin, P.T.; Janet Whalley, R.N., B.S.N.; Ann Keppler, R.N., M.N.

• Great one-stop-shop resource
• Covers everything! Pregnancy, prenatal tests, childbirth (stages, comfort measures, medical interventions), postpartum, newborn care, and more
• Very readable format with charts, pictures, illustrations and more

Active Birth: The New Approach
to Giving Birth Naturally

Janet Balaskas

• Great for low-intervention preference parents
• Covers how movement can be a useful tool for birthing parents before, during, and after childbirth
• Lots of pictures and illustrations!

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Ina May Gaskin

• Great for parents and partners looking to understand labor and birth without fear
• Follow-up to Spiritual Midwifery
• Lots of positive, normalizing stories of birth!

Mothering the New Mother
Sally Placksin

• Great for parents, partners and birth workers looking to understand the time after childbirth, and what support looks like then
• Discusses different cultural postpartum traditions
• Covers common issues: emotional hardships, going back to work, other kids, doulas and more
• Includes voices of real parents

Listen to Me Good
Margaret Charles Smith & Linda Janet Holmes

• Great for anyone looking to understand the legacy of midwifery, especially in the African-American community in the United States
• The story of a Black midwife in Alabama, who practiced from 1949-1981
• Stories of real births, birth practices and cultural traditions from the 1950s-1970s

Orgasmic Birth
Elizabeth Davis & Debra Pascali-Bonaro

• Great for parents curious about the experience of pleasure during childbirth
• "Orgasmic birth" defined as "[the experience of] those who describe birth as ecstatic and... those who actually felt the contractions of orgasm and climax at the moment of delivery"
• Includes very positive birth stories!

What books have empowered and informed you on your own birth journey, whether as parent, partner or birth worker? Share that or any other thoughts in the comments below!