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5 Natural Birth Books That Everyone Should Read

If you’re wanting to learn about natural birth and how to prepare, these 5 books are for you. Even if you aren’t sure about natural birth, these books will help you understand why natural birth can be beneficial and how you can make pregnancy and birth the best they can be.

stack of books with glasses on top

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Pregnancy brings a lot of new feelings and experiences. It also brings a lot of new to-dos.

Along with all the buying of baby supplies and going to prenatal appointments and finding comfortable maternity clothes, moms have a lot to learn before labor begins.

And for women who want to give birth unmedicated or “naturally,” there’s even more to figure out. 

I gave birth to my first daughter at home. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I was prepared well by a wonderful midwife and her Bradley Childbirth class.

But I also did a lot of learning on my own.

The books below are ones I personally read in preparation for my first home birth or those that I’ve read since and wish I would have read during my first pregnancy.

Topics These Books Cover

There are a zillion books on pregnancy and natural birth out there. So I’ve narrowed it down for you. These 5 books encompass most of the important topics, including:

  • how to have a healthy pregnancy so your body is ready for labor,
  • what labor and birth are like,
  • the research (or lack thereof) behind common birth interventions,
  • how your spouse or partner can help during labor,
  • the mindset and preparation needed for a good natural birth experience, and
  • techniques for breathing, pushing, labor practice, and more.

You’re never going to know everything or be perfectly prepared for birth. But you can do a lot to get a head start and make sure you have the information you need to make intentional decisions about your experience.

These five books will help you do that.

Natural Birth Books to Read During Pregnancy

So here they are: 5 natural birth books to read before labor begins.

1 – Real Food for Pregnancy (by Lily Nichols)

The first book on the list isn’t directly about natural birth. But hear me out.

Nutrition is a HUGE part of a healthy pregnancy and a safe, effective labor and birth. 

The foods you eat are literally the building blocks that help your baby grow. The quality of that food determines how well your baby develops. It also affects your chances of developing complications like preeclampsia and the risk of your baby being born prematurely or at a small birth weight.

I can’t say enough about how important good nutrition during pregnancy is, but Lily Nichols, author of Real Food for Pregnancy, says it better. 

She covers topics like:

  • How nutrient intake affects the development of your baby and risk for complications
  • Misconceptions of conventional prenatal nutrition
    • how the current high-carb, low-fat recommendations are doing more harm than good
    • why salt is an essential nutrient
    • the latest evidence on fish and mercury, food safety, and deli meat
  • Why a vegetarian or vegan diet may not be the best idea during pregnancy
  • Nutritional management of nausea, food aversions, heartburn, constipation, preeclampsia, etc.

And SO MUCH more.

You can buy her book directly from her website to support her, or you can get it on Amazon.

2 – Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way (by Susan McCutcheon)

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way book cover

I took a Bradley Childbirth class during my first pregnancy, and I loved it. I recommend The Bradley Method to everyone. As an add-on to the class or if you decide to do a different class but want to learn the Bradley way, get yourself a copy of Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon.

I liked Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way because it spells out things I’d never heard spelled out before, like exactly how to get into a squatting position and coordinate it with your breath to push effectively during the second stage of labor.

It also provides lots of step-by-step roleplays and diagrams of different positions you can practice during pregnancy so that it’s all second nature when labor starts.

The Bradley Method is nicknamed “husband-coached childbirth,” and this book provides specific advice about what your husband or partner can do to support you.

Note: Dr. Bradley wrote a book called Husband-Coached Childbirth. It’s also a good one and is more specifically addressed to the husbands. I liked it, it just didn’t make the top 5 for me. I preferred Susan’s version because of the things I already mentioned.

3 – The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth (by Henci Goer)

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth book cover

My midwife recommended The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth as additional reading while I was taking her Bradley class. Like some of the others on the list, it’s a little older but it’s still got great information.

This book isn’t about unmedicated birth. But I included it in my top 5 natural birth books because it provides a good picture of why a woman might choose to give birth without medication or intervention

With information about the c-section rate in America, elective inductions, VBAC, choosing a midwife or OBGYN, and much more, this Guide can help you make your birth decisions knowing that you have all the information.

If you’re on the fence about giving birth naturally, read this book. It might just help you decide.

4 – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (by Ina May Gaskin)

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth book cover

I LOVE Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. The first half is just birth story after birth story, all from women who had home births at The Farm Midwifery Center, which was founded by Ina May and her husband.

One of the best things you can do for yourself if you’re planning an unmedicated birth, whether in the hospital or out, is to read, listen to, and watch positive birth stories. Seeing birth and, especially, seeing or hearing about other women who have had wonderful experiences giving birth is powerful and encouraging.

After all the birth stories, Ina May shares the wisdom she gained over decades of attending births (more than 1,200!). It is both inspiring and educational.

5 – HypnoBirthing (by Marie Mongan)

HypnoBirthing book cover

The final book I’d recommend to someone planning a natural birth is HypnoBirthing by Marie Mongan. Mongan is one of the original minds behind the idea of using self-hypnosis as a coping technique during labor.

I heard about HypnoBirthing from a friend who used the method for her 2 births and loved it.

HypnoBirthing focuses on reducing fear of labor and birth in order to reduce or eliminate the experience of pain in labor.

To accomplish that, women first work through their fears and worries about birth. Then they use breathing and hypnosis techniques to calm their body and mind so that birth can proceed as it was designed to. 

I like the HypnoBirthing book because it explains some fundamental paradigm shifts that are important for a pleasant, successful natural birth. 

Note: In some ways, HypnoBirthing and The Bradley Method align, like teaching the importance of total relaxation during labor. In other ways, they differ. I like elements of HypnoBirthing, hence this book recommendation, but you can read about why I still recommend The Bradley Method in Choosing a Natural Childbirth Class: Comparing the Big 3.

Conclusion

Whether you choose to read all of these books or just one or two, I know you’ll find them helpful. 

Good information is always the first step in making good decisions.

So I hope you’ll take the time to read these books and to seek out other good sources of information. That learning will enable you to make intentional birth choices, and those choices will help to make make your birth experience all that you hope it will be.

Until next time,

Allison

READ MORE:

How to Prepare for Natural Birth (In the Hospital or Not)

Medications During Labor: Is It Worth the Risk?

67 Quotes About Birth That You Need to Hear If You’re Pregnant

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