My doula and midwifery bookshelf is starting to rival my husband’s dissertation bookshelves in size, and there’s no way that I can possibly list all of my favorites.
Pregnancy, Labor and Childbirth
These are texts that I strongly recommend for pregnant parents.
- Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, Sarah Buckley, MD. Combining practical wisdom and science, Dr. Buckley persuasively argues that low intervention leads to the best outcomes. This is a must-read.
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin. A classic guide to natural birth from America’s most famous midwife.
- The Natural Pregnancy Book: Herbs, Nutrition, and Other Holistic Choices, Aviva Romm, MD and Ina May Gaskin. For those of us seeking natural remedies to common pregnancy complaints, who wish to use herbs to support and nourish our pregnancies, and who seek alternatives to common medical treatments, this book is just the ticket.
- Obstetric Myths Vs. Research Realities: A Guide to the Medical Literature, Henci Goer. Henci Goer takes a critical look at common medical practices, the studies that may or may not support them, and offers evidence based reasoning for why parents might or might not choose certain interventions. A great resource for parents who want to a better understanding of the medical model of care, and why many parents are choosing alternatives to interventions. Also check out her blog posts at www.scienceandsensibility.org.
- Rediscovering Birth, Sheila Kitzinger. A gorgeous cross-cultural look at pregnancy and childbirth that situates the western medical model as one path among a world of paths. I love this introduction to childbirth practices, and I’m sure you will too.
Breastfeeding and Postpartum
I recommend picking up at least one breastfeeding book (and also check out the website www.kellymom.com).
- The Nursing Mother’s Companion, Kathleen Huggins. A wonderful breastfeeding resource that is easy to navigate, full of great tips on common issues.
- Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding, Jack Newman, MD. A helpful guide, but also an insistent voice reminding us that breastfeeding challenges are frequently undiagnosed or played down by medical staff.
- The First Forty Days, Heng Ou et al. A gorgeous text on how to nourish ourselves in all ways in the postpartum. Part cook book, part life book. This makes a wonderful gift to pregnant friends.
- Natural Health After Birth, Aviva Romm. Another helpful resource on natural remedies and nourishment post baby.
- The Year After Childbirth: Enjoying Your Body, Your Relationships, and Yourself in Your Baby’s First Year, Sheila Kitzinger. We put so much emphasis on preparing for birth that it’s easy to forget the year ahead, which comes with its own set of unique challenges and changes, many of which are unexpected.
Babies and Health
- Naturally Healthy Babies and Children, Aviva Romm, MD. I have used this book already countless times in my daughter’s life, opting for gentle treatments. She also makes clear when something should be checked out by a doctor.
- Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide, Aviva Romm, MD. The vaccine debate can get a bit, er, insane. I love this guide, which is neither pro- nor anti-vaccine, but lays out the concerns, questions, and research to empower parents to make their own choices.
- My YouTube playlist of birth videos, information, and inspiration.
- Babies, A cross-cultural look at early childhood development. It’s also hilarious.
- Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives, A beautiful documentary on the life’s work of midwife Ina May Gaskin and her community of midwives and families in Tennessee.
- Le Premier Cri (French, YouTube), Another amazing and beautifully shot documentary on different cultures around the world, birthing on a single day. Even if you don’t speak French, this film is visually stunning, from births with dolphins in Mexico, North African nomads, the Amazon rainforest to an unattended Canadian homebirth and a high-volume Vietnamese maternity ward.
- The Business of Being Born, This documentary has become a sort of gateway drug into advocacy for childbirth choices. A classic.
- The Face of Birth, A documentary on the politicization of birth choices with a focus on Australia and the United Kingdom.
- A Midwife’s Story, Penny Armstrong & Sheryl Feldman. I love this beautiful story of the journey of a homebirth midwife from her roots in hospital maternity services to caring for Amish families in Pennsylvania. Aside from an excellent midwifery memoir, it’s a loving portrait of a poorly-understood community that she respects and admires.
- A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on her Diary, 1785-1812, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. A Harvard historian reconstructs the life of a very busy and skilled midwife in early America at a time when maternity care is beginning to shift from midwives to doctors. This is no dry history book; it’s riveting.
- Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife, Peggy Vincent. Another incredible memoir of babies born in birth centers and at home (and on boast!) in the 1960s and 1970s.