I’m an information junkie. I love learning, and when I fine a topic that interests me, I have a tendency to read and research until I become a “mini expert” on the subject. And when I’m pregnant, you can bet I’m going to research and read and learn all about pregnancy, labor, and delivery. The fourth time around is no different.
There is A LOT of information out there about pregnancy and childbirth, most of it sounding exactly the same, coming from a very similar place, and quite frankly, resulting in a lot of fear. Whether that’s the intended purpose or not, it seems the moment a woman finds out she’s pregnant, she’s inundated with a lot of “well-meaning” messages that can cause anxiety about pregnancy and labor.
No More Fear
Quite frankly, I’m sick of it. Women are strong, capable beings that were created for childbearing. And we have brains! And logic! And intuition! All of this fear-mongering just frustrates me to no end. As a result, I think as we women have lost the confidence in ourselves to trust both our decisions and our bodies when it comes to pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
So I’ve come up with some of my favorite books that educate, encourage, and empower women through their pregnancies, labors, and into motherhood. (And one book that you can skip reading.)
Please understand, that while many of these books encourage a natural, unmedicated labor, I personally believe in each woman’s right to choose what is best for her labor and delivery. There is no “right way” to have a baby. I’ve had one natural birth, and two with pain medication; my only hope is to encourage you to be informed and make the best decision for you that is NOT based on fear.
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Real Food for Pregnancy
I could sing the praises of this book all day long! Author Lily Nichols is a registered dietitian/ nutritionist and certified diabetes educator, and her book is based on solid and thorough research. (Seriously, there are over 900 citations in the book!)
Real Food for Pregnancy addresses the conventional nutrition advice given to pregnant women and explains why this may not actually be the best advice. She encourages women to take control of their diets by sharing many of the nutrients pregnant women need (many of which aren’t talked about by most doctors!!), and explaining the most nutrient-dense foods to grow a healthy, robust baby while avoiding complications like gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. You can actually read the first chapter for free here! (She also has another book called Real Food for Gestational Diabetes which would be a great option if you have been diagnosed with GD)
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Written by one of the most renown midwives, Ina May Gaskin addresses a lot of the fears that many women face when pregnant. The first part of the book is birthing stories from other women meant to inform and encourage women. The second part is practical and educational know-how meant to support and prepare women for labor without fear, reassuring them that their bodies are equipped and designed for this purpose.
In Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, she addresses everything from episiotomies to cesareans, drawing on her many years of experience as a midwife. While she encourages natural, home births, she does provide some food for thought and advice for those who wish to have a hospital birth (like me). What I most appreciated was the constant reassurance that my body can handle labor. Even if you plan on using pain medication, I would still recommend this book to take away any fear that might be impacting your decision.
A Husband-Coached Childbirth
Doctor Robert Bradley is the creator of the Bradley Method of childbirth. In Husband-Coached Childbirth , he encourages a natural childbirth, but what I most appreciated was the focus on the husband as the primary birth coach. He delves into a holistic approach to pregnancy, discussing everything from nutrition to relaxation so that you can grow a healthy, happy baby.
While his main focus is preparing women for an unmedicated birth, he provides relaxing techniques that can be utilized even if you plan to have pain medication. He encourages building a stronger, deeper connection with your husband as your primary coach, developing a working relationship with your doctor, and support for women that, again, takes away a lot of the fear around childbirth.
Birthing from Within
Birthing from Within is a bit of a wild card for me. I’ll admit, it’s definitely a different read, but one I found very encouraging. It is a Lamaze International Top Ten Book selection, and written by a midwife and PhD.
In truth, it is a little “hippy-dippy” which I am not, but I found the birth stories and other information so helpful for taking the fear out of labor and delivery. It is very empowering, and even includes encouragement on “giving birth” if you have to have a cesarean. Again, the book encourages a natural birth, but I found the techniques for pain management and even addressing the different fears very helpful.
The One Pregnancy Book to Skip
What to Expect When You’re Expecting. This is probably one of the most frequently read pregnancy books, and quite frankly I was unimpressed. I think there are such better options for a woman when she’s pregnant that can actually inform rather than spike fear and anxiety. Save your money and your mental health and skip this book.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on your favorite pregnancy books! What did you find most helpful? What are you currently reading?