One of my favorite things to do while I was pregnant to prepare for my birth was to take myself out to breakfast and read one of these books. I would eat a nourishing meal, quietly sit there and sip my tea and truly mark up, take notes and take in these teachings. All of these books either helped to prepare me for my birth experience, pregnancy or postpartum. There are so many incredible books to read while you are pregnant but these are my top six! They are books that I would reread each pregnancy and constantly look to for inspiration and connection.
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
- Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz
- Natural Health after Birth by Dr. Aviva Romm
- Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin
- The First Forty Days by Heng Ou
- Nine Golden Months by Heng Ou
Books that support Childbirth
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
This book is exactly what it says: a guide to childbirth. A great reference for evidence based practices that are centuries old from a midwife who specializes in unmedicated birth. Ina May Gaskin shares her thirty-plus years of experience with you assisting unmedicated birth as a midwife on the farm. She shares the benefits and joys of natural birth and how it can be a fulfilling and joyful experience. This book is filled with empowering birth stories and wisdom from the nation’s leading midwife. She teaches you about birth and the mind-body connection and how to avoid intervention in your birthing experience. She explains simply different childbirth practices and gives examples on what to do instead. My favorite part of the book was reading the birth stories and her sense of human coming through the teachings.
Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz
Birthing from Within is truly an empowering and inspiring book about how to go inward in your childbirth experience and avoid the fear/pain cycle. When we are afraid or experiencing fear we are in return experiencing pain. Childbirth is painful when we are afraid and operating in a disjointed place and not connected to our strength within. If you would like to birth with less pain, intervention and have a joyful birthing experience I highly recommend reading this book.
Books that support Postpartum
Natural Health after Birth by Dr. Aviva Romm
This book is by the incredible Dr. Aviva Romm who has several life changing books you should check out but this one is a specific must read during pregnancy. It will help you to prepare for the postpartum period and have natural or holistic after birth care to support your healing. Dr. Aviva Romm is an MD, midwife, herbalist and mother of four. She teaches you about the birth of the mother, the first days postpartum, the first year, postnatal yoga and movement, herbalism and nourishment postpartum. I love this book so much and I think you will love it too. So often in pregnancy we are so focused on preparing for birth and we put all of our energy and reading into that.. Do not forget about postpartum. Postpartum is for life. Childbirth is a couple hours/days.
Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin
After you make it through your birth experience, find support for postpartum you may be breastfeeding around the clock to feed your newborn for months/years. I remember cracking open this book while I was breastfeeding my first newborn feeling lost. It is important to learn about breastfeeding prior to being in it for the first time especially if you want to breastfeed. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends breastfeeding for the first two years of your child’s life. Breastfeeding time equates to a full time job of approximately 1,800 a year of the breastfeeding parent’s time. Which is about 40 hours per week or a full time job. Having support from this book and a lactation consultant will better prepare you for this incredible life changing undertaking.
The First Forty Days by Heng Ou
The First Forty Days by Heng Ou has been one of the most frequently referred to books in our home and is a must-read for anyone supporting or going through a postpartum period. I was gifted this book from a dear friend and I am so grateful to have this resource. The postpartum bible in some regards. Heng walks you through different countries, cultures and traditions around the world that protect and honor the first forty days after birth and how it is a sacred time of rest for the new mother and baby. The extended family and community around the birthing family will come in and support them with food, taking over all of the housework and childcare of other children within the home. The birthing mother will rest, stay in bed and bond with her baby. This book offers up research why this has been done for centuries in other traditions and it is the natural way to usher in new life and support birthing families. Heng also offers up incredible recipes to support the postpartum birthing mother and family. I continue to reference this book weekly even at 8 months postpartum.
Books that support Pregnancy
Nine Golden Months by Heng Ou
If you thought the first forty days sounded amazing, she has three books! One on fertility, pregnancy and postpartum. This one is the book specific to supporting pregnancy. She shares incredible traditional wisdom and practices for pregnancy alongside more recipes and nourishment. If you want to feel inspired to nourish you and your baby through pregnancy I highly recommend this book.
I hope you find these books as supportive as I did! These books helped me have three unmedicated birthing experiences and one home birth. They helped to support my incredible postpartum healing journeys and healthy pregnancies. Did I face challenges? Oh yes! But it is a good thing that I had these supportive teachings on my bookshelf to help me through. If you pick up one of these books and check it out – let me know in the comments!