When I was pregnant for the first time, I remember standing in front of a wall of pregnancy books at Barnes and Noble. I was excited to be pregnant and learn more about what I was going through, but something about the sheer number of books made me want to run in the other direction–an avalanche of manuals might knock me to the ground. Surely birth– something that has been happening since THE DAWN OF TIME– doesn’t require this much instruction!
Nevertheless, I did grab a few from the shelves and I was surprised by what I read. I knew my body was meant to give birth, but I didn’t know that my doctor wouldn’t be with me until I was pushing or that 24 hours was the average length of a first time labor. I realized that though birth is the most normal thing in the world, like most modern women, I hadn’t been around birth all that much. Since then I’ve read too many birth books to count: obstetrics manuals, midwifery memoirs, polemics, histories, rants and anthologies. I even wrote a birth book!
My friends and childbirth education students often ask me:
If I get ONE book, which birth book should I get? (Maybe after their own encounters with the Barnes and Noble preggo section?) So, here’s a list of my favorite birth *guides.*
These are practical books that will explain how birth works as well as offer tons of ideas for coping– from squatting to epidurals. You don’t need to read them all, but one really good birth book can make a difference to your birth experience.