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Forum: Natural Childbirth


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December 7th, 2006, 09:21 AM
wonderfullymade's Avatar Doula & MW Apprentice
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Galveston, TX
Posts: 1,844
Here is the beginning of a list of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting books advocating NCB that I have a feeling will keep growing. Feel free to post your own addition in this format to keep them more easy to peruse:

<div align="center">"title" by _____ - my critique and what it's about</div>

“The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth” by Henci Goer - wonderfully written, though, like her other books, it is a little on the weighty side with information (just up my alley). She writes a comprehensive study guide, in very lay-friendly wording, to the medical studies - and why medical studies themselves support NCB without saying so. Fully referencable.

”Birthing from Within”by Pam England - a spiritual journey into the beauty and self-power of childbirth. A little on the hippy side, but I love her poetic writing and no-holds-barred approach to the act of childbirth.

“Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin - on my favorites right now. I have read it around 5 times since buy it 9 months ago. Traditional midwifery meets practical application and psychological connection of mind-body. It is full of inspiring birth stories. Her holistic approach to childbirth is refreshing and challenges even the most staunch NCB advocate to trade in their biases just a little more for faith in the miraculous art of birthing.

"Childbirth Without Fear" by Grantly Dick-Read - the pioneer book on childbirth. Written in the early 1900's, the predecessor to Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze and Dr. Robert Bradley, he coins the fear-pain-tension cycle and teaches effective means of breaking that cycle. A revolutionary book, full of history, and a difficult read.

“Husband Coached Childbirth” by Dr. Robert Bradley - originally written in the 1950's, it is a strong book on the Bradley Method - it's history, teachings, and beliefs. It is written in the perspective for the coach and can be a bit chauvenistic, but it is another wonderfully informative read on how laboring animals can teach us how we, as higher species, can eliminate unneccessary pain and discomfort in childbirth by modelling after their behavior and stages of laboring.

“Christ Centered Childbirth” by Kelly J. Townsend - the teachings of Robert Bradley from a Christian POV. Keeping creation and God's design as the forefront and premises for all teachings.

“The Labor Progress Handbook” by Penny Simkin - delving into such sticky situations as dystocia and failure to progress, Penny meets the challenge of reasons given for cesarean deliveries. This book focuses on simple non-invasive interventions to prevent or treat difficult labor. It describes positions, movements and techniques based on principles of anatomy, physiology and psychology of childbirth. This handbook is organized by stage of labor for easy reference. The rationale for all techniques is included based on the authors' clinical experience and wherever possible on the underlying evidence base.

"Natural Chilbirth the Bradley Way" by Susan McCutcheon - written as a follow-up to HCC, this informative and preferred book of the Bradley Method delves into the differences of Bradley vs. 'other methods', the emotional signposts of labor, the physical makeup of labor and birth, and common-sense approaches to relaxation and relief in labor. Filled with relaxation practices and consumer-friendly wisdom, it is a wonderful walking handbook for any NCB student.

"The Pregnancy Book" by Dr. Sears - written as a month-by-month guide, it is an excellent all-in-one guide to pregnancy. This book deals with physical and emotional changes, describes the growth of the fetus, and discusses common concerns during pregnancy. It also focuses on nutrition, exercise, information and support for home births and birthing centers, traveling while pregnant, how to avoid episiotomy, and so on. The approach is gentle, thorough, and includes more information than most month-by-month guides.

"The Birth Book" by Dr. Sears - written as a helpful resource guide, this book covers the gamut of possibilities, and teaches what every woman needs to know to take control of their own birth. It is divided into three parts: "Preparing for Birth," "Easing Pain in Labor," and "Experiencing Birth." Each section outlines options and medical studies supporting a positive birth experience. It details vaginal births; cesareans; VBACs; water births; home births; best birthing positions; drugs; pain; how to design your own birth plan; sexuality of birth; and lots of birth stories. Unbiased and research based, it is a positive companion in working toward informed consent.

"Having a Baby, naturally" by Mothering Mag. - a wonderful book written by the publishers of Mothering Magazine. It contains pregnancy nutrition (and recipes), exercise, childbirth choices, methods of NCB, positions, and postpartum guidance (including newborn care). An easy read and nice referencial guide, I recommend it!

"Immaculate Deception" by Suzanne Arms - very readable, yet historically inaccurate when talking of anything beyond childbirth (ie, her christianity rant), Ms Arms presents a moving work on the loss of childbirth faith in present culture and throughout history. Validating women mourning 'loss of birth', this book confronts the issues surrounding the American culture, our loss of faith in our bodies design and nature's intent, and medical conspiracy to keep the power in the hands of the medical field and money markets themselves.

"The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" by LLL Int. - My favorite book on breastfeeding. A little heavier a read than the Breastfeeding Book, but written from the experts on breastfeeding themselves. It is a great companion for encouragement and information to all breastfeeding mothers and those anticipating breastfeeding. Study-based information and support for common difficulties faced in breastfeeding, it is a must-have.

"The Baby Catcher" by Peggy Vincent - written autobiographically, this book follows one woman's walk through her midwifery career. Filled with childbirth stories and history, the politics faced in the midwifery field, and the ups and downs of the business, this is a delightful and insightful read for liesure and enlightenment (not much in the way for NCB prep though).

“Spiritual Midwifery” by Ina May Gaskin - This book includes updated information on the safety of natural childbirth, birthing stories, and the most recent statistics on births managed by The Farm Midwives. Also presents stories of working with Amish women, showing a different culture with a similar appreciation for natural childbirth. It is more 'religious' in it's approach and can be slightly yuppy in conveyance, but a classic read for NCB advocates none-the-less.

"The Politics of Birth" by Sheila Kitzinger - The Politics of Birth explores ways in which we learn about birth, how we talk and feel about it, assumptions that professional caregivers may make, and the roles and skills of midwives. Topics include home birth and water birth; the use of drugs in childbirth; obstetric and nursing interventions which are often used routinely; Caesarean sections; pressures that care-givers are under, and the choices presented to women that are more apparent than real. Throughout, the author draws on research-based evidence to present both an holistic yet grounded examination of topical issues surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. This is not a "how to" book. The aim of The Politics of Birth is to help the reader develop deeper insight and understanding of how a technocratic birth culture shapes our ideas about birth and obstetric practice.

"The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth" by Sheila Kitzinger - Here, candidly and reasonably presented, is all the information expectant parents need to make their own decisions about everything--from which tests to allow to how to handle pain to where to give birth. Very similar in presentation to the Birth Book. Less biased than other NCB books, but just as informative and fact-based.

"The Breastfeeding Book" by Martha Sears - a comprehensive very reader-friendly guide to what to expect while breastfeeing, the challenges that are commonly faced both physically and socially, and the benefits/physiology of breastfeeding.

"The Birth Partner" by Penny Simkin - This book gives the birth partner a clear understanding of the process of bearing a baby and the role that he or she is to play. Simkin thoroughly examines parturition, from essential supplies for mother and baby to how to handle an emergency delivery. At her best, Simkin makes the birth partner aware of medical decisions that may lie ahead and of the importance of indulging the mother with constant tender loving care and encouragement during labor and delivery.

"The Doula Book" by Marshall Klaus - a Greek word that means "woman caregiver", this book talks about the importance and role of the doula in today's society, while touching on the historocity of the role as well. Doula has come to mean an experienced labor companion who provides parents-to-be with emotional and physical support during labor, delivery and, to some extent, postpartum; describing how a doula can help the birthing process, detailing studies that indicate doula-supported births result in a major reduction in the length of labor, a greater than 50% drop in cesarean sections, a decrease in a mother's need for pain medication and fewer feeding problems for babies after birth, this book is educational when considering a doula. Very easy reading.

Bellies & Babies Blogger
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December 7th, 2006, 09:27 AM
*:Onei*Chan:*'s Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Salina, Kansas
Posts: 6,665
Thanks! All the ones that I have read or I AM reading are all on there, so I have nothing to add right now! But thats a nice list you posted, very helpful!

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December 7th, 2006, 09:34 AM
LaLa's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Ive heard Mind Over Labor is another good book though Ive never gotten around to reading it!


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December 7th, 2006, 12:34 PM
wonderfullymade's Avatar Doula & MW Apprentice
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Galveston, TX
Posts: 1,844
"The Attachment Parenting Book" by Dr. Sears - a book all about AP by the renowned author Dr. Sears. Practical and inspirational, it is the answer book to most childhood questions; ranging from breastfeeding, weaning, and solids to co-sleeping, carrying, and discipline.

"Rediscovering Birth" by Sheila Kitzinger - This is a work of social anthropology with political intentions. Kitzinger, a well-known birth educator and activist and author of the classic Pregnancy and Childbirth, wants to open women's eyes to the meanings of childbirth that have been lost through the adoption of the technocratic model of birth now prevalent in Europe and the United States. To this end, she uses observations from decades of original fieldwork, as well as research from the literature, to examine childbirth practices and beliefs in many cultures. We have moved away from the social model of traditional cultures, Kitzinger tells us, in which childbirth is a normal life process controlled by the woman and her community, and have allowed birth to become a medical event associated with pathology and controlled by specialists. The political task at hand is to take back control from the technocracy and put it into the hands of women so that the best elements of both models may be available.

"How to Raise a Healthy Child In Spite of Your Doctor" by Dr. Robert Mendelsohn – this is a delightful book, heavy reading, but a wonderful asset to any parent attempting to raise a healthy family. From infections and fevers to common vaccinations and childhood tests, Dr. Mendelsohn guides parents through each situation to choosing the best and safest route of care for every child.

"Heart and Hands" by Elizabeth Davis – this textbook, study guide, and historical record delves into the hearts and hands of midwifery. Explaining the art of midwifery, Davis offers information on how to choose a midwife, why to choose a midwife, and what to expect from the midwifery model of care.

"Gentle Birth Choices" by Suzanne Arms – this book explores the myriad of choices presented to expectant couples when looking forward to a birth experience and helps to clarify these choices. This text also dispels medical myths while maintaining that childbirth does not have to be a painful, fearful, or violent experience. Further, it explains the numerous gentle birth choices available, including birth center, hospital, and homebirth options; how to find a care provider who advocates NCB; and deciding how and when to use current technologies.

"Birth as an American Rite of Passage" by Robbie Davis-Floyd - An anthropological study on childbirth rites of passage in American culture and current society, this is a heavy read, but mind-provoking. The rites she speaks of in this book are medical in nature and, she argues, take away women's power over their bodies which are naturally designed to bring life into the world. “She believes that society, intimidated by women's ability to give birth, has designed obstetrical rituals that are far more complex than natural childbirth itself in order to deliver what is from nature into culture.” Full of childbirth stories covering the gamut of childbirth experiences, this book is a must when delving into the magnitude of childbirth choices and their importance to women and society as a whole.

“Mainstreaming Midwives: The Politics of Change” by Robbie Davis-Floyd and Christine Barbra Johnson – Again, Davis hits on the over-medicinalization of childbirth practices and what is lost in the process. She talks about laws, statutes, and cases against midwives in recent years and the past and what is lost and gained from every stroke of law on the way.

“Mothering the Mother” by Marsha Klaus – a required reading on many apprentice-doula lists, this book is easy to read with comprehensive and well organized information on everything ‘mothering’ to do and not to do to assist a laboring woman.

“An Easier Childbirth: A Mother’s Guide for Birthing Normally” by Gayle Peterson – not in line with traditional education, this book guides its readers through the subconscious, completely emotional, and personal side of childbirth. Speaking in terms of ‘realistic expectations’, she continues her journey in the line of thought that so a woman believes, so will her labor be. This book is written as a workbook to use as a personalized childbirth preparation.

“Giving Birth: A Journey Into the World of Mothers and Midwives” by Catherine Taylor – This book relates women who have employed the use of midwives, the midwives themselves, and their relationships and experiences. Not only a good read, this book also explores the economic and social factors that keep maternity healthcare locked into costly structural problems, block consumer access to appropriate care, and threaten the profession of midwifery. Insightful personal quips, medical, anthropological studies, and birth stories make this an enjoyable, but slightly more political, read.

“Mother’s Intention: How Belief Shapes Birth” by Kim Wildner – This hard-core and straightforward, politically incorrect book tells childbirth and western medicine/western philosophy of birth like it is. In it, Wildner explains in detail how what you believe to be true will affect your experience from pregnancy through birth and into Motherhood. Though it dwells to much on the negative side of thought, it has positive connotations: that what we perceive we will achieve.

“Obstetrical Myths vs. Research Realities” by Henci Goer - "Unencumbered by the burden of conventional obstetrical thinking, Ms. Goer takes a fresh look at current customs in maternity care. Using logic, common sense, and the latest scientific findings, she has written an incisive critique, inspiring us all--physicians, midwives, childbirth educators, nurses, doulas, and expectant parents--to rethink and question routine care as it exists today. This is "must" reading for all who participate in maternity care." - Penny Simkin

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November 27th, 2007, 11:02 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 54
wow, this is a great list! I'm working on becoming a doula, and you just gave me a big shopping list! From the ones I've read or heard about that are on your list, I'm especially excited to read the ones I haven't.
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December 21st, 2007, 01:23 PM
blissful mama's Avatar Regular
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Austin
Posts: 53
I agree! All the ones I read are on that list! Of course anything Ina May Gaskin writes is gold in my book...

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January 11th, 2008, 06:04 PM
Super Mommy
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 631
"The Birth Book" by Dr. Sears - written as a helpful resource guide, this book covers the gamut of possibilities, and teaches what every woman needs to know to take control of their own birth. It is divided into three parts: "Preparing for Birth," "Easing Pain in Labor," and "Experiencing Birth." Each section outlines options and medical studies supporting a positive birth experience. It details vaginal births; cesareans; VBACs; water births; home births; best birthing positions; drugs; pain; how to design your own birth plan; sexuality of birth; and lots of birth stories. Unbiased and research based, it is a positive companion in working toward informed consent.

I absolutly love this book! He and his wife wrote it and they have 8 children. One of the big things they talk about is how to remember to relax. It really helped me through my all-natural at-home water birth.
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March 30th, 2008, 02:05 PM
kimberlypatton@msn.com's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Eastern WASHINGTON
Posts: 1,421
I wanted to add a couple:

"Thank You, Dr. Lamaze" ~ I read this in preparation of each of my births.


"Born in the USA"

The world today is upside down because there is so very little love in the home, and in family life. We have no time for each other. Everybody is in such a terrible rush, and so anxious…and in the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.
-Mother Teresa~
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June 10th, 2008, 03:13 AM
UndaCovaSis's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,321
Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block This book details how modern OB/GN became what it is today from the early 1900s to now. It covers the political, social, ethical, and legal issues surrounding birth and women's right to midwifery care. By far one of the best books I've ever read. It's not a how-to guide for new parents. It's a piece of investigative journalism for anyone interested on the topic. A must for any doula, childbirth education, or midwifery student!

So Crunchy
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June 20th, 2008, 06:58 AM
moon~maiden's Avatar Cheryl~ birth truster
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: south eastern Mass
Posts: 13,088
"How to Raise a Healthy Child In Spite of Your Doctor" by Dr. Robert Mendelsohn – this is a delightful book, heavy reading, but a wonderful asset to any parent attempting to raise a healthy family. From infections and fevers to common vaccinations and childhood tests, Dr. Mendelsohn guides parents through each situation to choosing the best and safest route of care for every child.

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! I wish more parents would read this book.
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October 21st, 2008, 10:22 AM
AshleyMarie's Avatar Proud Mommy of Two
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Bothell, Washington
Posts: 4,483
"The Natural Pregnancy Book" by Aviva Jill Romm:
The foreword is written by Ina May and not only does she talk about empowering you and how to listen to your body there is a whole section on holistic remedies. Plus there is a chapter written just for the husband/birth partner-coach.

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November 3rd, 2008, 11:29 AM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 52
”Birthing from Within”by Pam England

I just wanted to say that I live in New Mexico, and so I had the advantage of actually taking a class based on this method - not actually from Pam herself, but from women trained by Pam. My midwife described the class as "airy fairy" (read: hippy) when recommending it to me, and it was that, a bit, with a lot of emphasis on drawing, music, etc. But even my husband, who is decidedly non-hippy, and who attended the classes with me, agreed at the end that it was VERY informative and insightful. And practical, too; we did tons of work with ice cubes and pain management techniques, which was very helpful to me.

I also LOVED the fact that it emphasized preparing for giving birth, as opposed to just going through labor. By that I mean, we spent a lot of time discussing fears not only about labor, but also about raising a child, becoming a family, etc. And I liked the fact that it de-emphasized birth plans. Nothing against them, but the class really tried to make the point that labor will not always go the way you expect, and your goal should be to birth in awareness, not try to make your birth fit some preconceived pattern you have in your head. And, surprisingly, it's not as down on drugs as you might expect. It points out that there are times when drugs might help a woman having a difficult labor, and talks about the compassionate use of drugs for birthing.

Anyway, this is getting long. Bottom line, I loved the class, I like the book, and if anyone wants some further insight, feel free to PM me or post and I'll go on for days if necessary.
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February 12th, 2009, 01:12 PM
KaylaMeow's Avatar Canned Spontaneity
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Coeur d' Alene, ID
Posts: 3,506
What a great list! I just asked my Bradley instructor if she has "Natural Chilbirth the Bradley Way" by Susan McCutcheon, and she does, so I'm going to borrow that from her tonight and read it!
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August 19th, 2010, 09:27 PM
Tiki's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Alberta
Posts: 1,287
Awesome list! I just wanted to mention that Gentle Birth Choices is actually by Barbara Harper. I'm working my way through the list. I'm currently reading Pushed and Husband coached childbirth.
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December 20th, 2010, 10:35 AM
Earthy.Mama's Avatar .*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 14,028
WOAH that's one huge list Awesome resources!

The only two books I have are Ina May & the Bradley one by Susan, which is an amazing read!

Co-Host July 2014 DDC

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