When I found out I was pregnant I wanted to know everything about birth. Not just about labour hormones, birthing positions and stages of labour, but all the obscure things like placenta encapsulation and lotus births… yes, I’m one of those strange people who seriously considered eating my own placenta in the form of a smoothie – but in the end the preparation seemed like too much hard work!
I must admit that learning about pregnancy and birth became a bit of an obsession. But a happy one – for me at least. Perhaps not for my husband, as I learned from the look on his face when I came home the third night in a row clutching yet another birth DVD. Suffice to say, I don’t think he found this a satisfactory viewing alternative to Sons of Anarchy.
My birth education was a smorgasbord of books, documentaries, workshops, internet research and conversations with other women. But this post will only stretch so far so I decided to share my favourite birth books. I should say that firstly I came across all the standard issue pregnancy and birth books (you know the best-seller type ones) and they didn’t speak to me. It seemed either the content was just common sense or the writing style a bit condescending or disempowering. Or was that just me?
So I dug a bit deeper. I used my local library and birth resource centre and aha! It turns out there are many thought-provoking and fascinating books if you’re looking for something other than run of the mill ‘What to Expect’ type reading.
Here are my top nine in no particular order. I’m aware most of them focus on natural birth. That’s because I was keen to balance out what I already knew about Obstetric model birth but I appreciate that a positive birth doesn’t have to be a ‘natural’ birth. Would be great to hear your favourite birth books, please share in the comments.
1. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Lauded America’s leading Midwife, Ina May Gaskin believes in our ability to have a positive, natural birth even if we don’t believe it ourselves. Her advice to us? ‘Let your monkey do it!’ Humans may be the most evolved of all the mammalian species, but birth is one process where our big brains hinder us.
2. Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read
This book by Pioneer Obstetrician Dr Grantly Dick-Read is now more relevant than ever. Have you seen One Born Every Minute? Of course you have! With prime-time screening of these ever dramatic ‘real’ births, our mental imagery of birth as riskier than a sky-dive without a parachute is hard…