1. Rediscovering Birth, by Sheila Kitzinger This book is an overview of birth from the perspective of anthropology. Cultural practices and beliefs about birth are shared, as well as lovely pictures from all over the world. The reader is left with an uplifting message that birth is what connects us as humans, and it can be an extraordinarily simple act when it is not messed with. It may not be easy to find, but it is well worth the trouble of tracking a copy down.
2. Baby Catcher, by Peggy Vincent Inspiring story after story of birth from the viewpoint of the midwife herself, this book is an easy-read full of adventures in childbirth. It follows Peggy around California's Bay Area as she goes from home to home in her trusty Volvo, helping babies out. A true tale for our time, she brings perspective back to birth in the modern age by adding the touch of home-sweet-homebirth (although absolutely appropriate for anyone, regardless of your planned place of birth).
3. The Official Lamaze Guide to Giving Birth with Confidence, by Judith Lothian and Charlotte De Vries I like this book for the "general" pregnancy book every woman wants -- the happy, evidence-based equivalent to the one everybody rushes to buy (which I call "What to expect When You're Paranoid"). It is thin, easy to handle and read, and contains all the most important information about pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period you would ever need. In case you don't know, Lamaze is no longer about the breathing -- now it is about promoting "normal birth" -- that makes this book an essential tool for any pregnant person out there.
4. Sleeping with Your Baby, by Dr. James McKenna While pregnant, many like to learn about other topics besides just birth -- and this is wise, because while the birth may occupy a full-day's work, being a parent is something that lasts a lifetime! Where your baby will sleep is a controversial topic, and while we are putting together our cribs and picking out our bassinets, many healthy, full-term babies aren't happy about these sleeping arrangements. Dr. McKenna notes that while there is a taboo against co-sleeping or bed-sharing, many, many families end up with a baby in their bed at some point, even if they don't admit it. He offers up research and guidelines to sleeping safely with your baby.
5. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, LLLI La Leche League's website proclaims "The one book every nursing mother needs by her side!" and I could not agree more. Every basic question or situation is addressed in this excellent book, which has been rewritten and is now in its 8th edition. While pregnant, breastfeeding is a topic we like to learn about -- and I can't share how any times a mother-to-be said, "Of course I am going to breastfeed, but I have to HAVE the baby first!" It can be hard to focus on the breastfeeding part when we get so caught up in the birth part. This book is a resource that can be picked up, flipped through, and read pieces at a time to become familiar with the basics before birth. Later, it can be used again to look up specific issues that nursing mothers face, and it takes us from pregnancy, to first nursing, solids, weaning, and everything in between. Buy this one and keep it.
There you have it! It was hard not to add so many others, and even harder not to name-drop them here in this last paragraph, but I promised to keep it simple. (If you do choose to buy the book-that-shall-not-be-named, just promise you will balance it out with one of these encouraging, positive tomes.) In my opinion, these books contain not only information, but also comfort, wisdom, and knowledge in the choices we have.
My friend Anne shares her 5 here. What are your top 5? Share in the comments!
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)