I loaned The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth to a client this weekend and remembered that it really is one of the BEST books for parents to read while they are expecting. (And it's good for you to re-read in subsequent pregnancies.) It divides topics nicely into chapters so you can see whatever issue you may be curious about (cesareans, IVs, induction, doulas, episiotomies, etc.) I found it fascinating and I love that at the end of the book she includes a literature review and extensive bibliography citing the dozens and dozens of studies she's reviewed to come up with these results. For parents who like seeing their sources she's fantastic, but even if you don't want to read the studies her chapters give you the punchline. Pros and cons, risks and benefits for all sorts of birth interventions - though she does include a doula and the risks associated with us are pretty low. 🙂
This book was a life changer for me, it heavily influenced our births because it made me more informed. It's truly that good and while her opinions are pretty clear, I think she does a good job of presenting the studies and letting them speak for themselves. When I needed the cesarean I appreciated knowing about the good and bad, without having the author preaching at me that I must birth one particular way.
For doulas and childbirth educators this is one to own for sure! But disclaimer, this book will absolutely help prepare you for birth as far as knowing your options and writing up a very well informed birthplan, but this does not cover any topics like breastfeeding or labor coping techniques, it's focused solely on interventions. You'll want to look at other options for more comprehensive birth preparation, such as:
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Revised Edition - probably the most comprehensive book for overall preparation for pregnancy & birth, though I didn't feel that it covered a lot of coping ideas for labor itself and with precipitous births (my second, which is when I read Bradley) it basically says good luck and hang on! There is a 12 week course that goes along with this book and it's taught locally. (Chapters 12 to 15 I think are crucial for couples planning a natural birth.)
Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation - this one is excellent for pain coping ideas and for more of the emotional preparation for labor, considering your fears and concerns and working to protect the birth space. I learned about this one with my third birth and the pain coping ideas and visualizing your dream birth were both incredibly helpful for me. This book is affiliated with a childbirth course as well, and I'm helping teach the local class. I think EVERY parent should read chapters 20 to 24 and chapter 38 (on coping techniques.)
The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth (Sears Parenting Library) - I loved that this one was very comprehensive, but there's not a childbirth class associated with it. I didn't read it until my fifth birth but their discussion on what pain is and how we respond was really, really helpful for me. It changed my perspective. The Sears have a huge collection of books - this one is just on birth, barely touching on postpartum/breastfeeding/etc. They have different books for pregnancy and for nursing (and for preemies and for high needs babies and for nutrition - you get the idea!) But for labor itself, this birth book is great. My husband said if dads read only one chapter of one book, read the chapter in this one about perceptions of pain - it's chapter 8, but chapters 9 and 11 are also really good.
I have these four books so let me know if you want to browse them, I own them because they are THAT GOOD. These are the ones I returned to often in my own pregnancies and loan out the most to moms.
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