Birthing a baby, though obviously quite normal, seems to be complicated in today’s culture. From the moment you announce your pregnancy, people will have advice to give. There are choices to be made and—once you’ve made those choices—choices to be defended at seemingly every turn. Everyone (or so it seems) has a pregnancy or birth or postpartum horror story to tell—whether it’s theirs or just someone they know. With all this information and confusion, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and scared at the very thought of giving birth.


Knowledge is power.

In the case of pregnancy and labor, knowledge can bring you power over your fears. If you desire a more natural or holistic approach to pregnancy, labor and postpartum, these books are definitely for you! Even if you aren’t planning a natural childbirth, these books are still a valuable resource to calm fears and normalize the birth process. Besides, you never know when baby’s plans will speed up and suddenly there’s no time for that epidural!

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Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

by Ina May Gaskin

Take-away point: Labor and birth are beautiful.

If you only read one book, make this THE book. The book itself is divided into two parts. In the first part, Ina May shares birth stories, both from her practice on The Farm and other locations. In the second part, she shares pregnancy and birth information, interventions, mantras and mindsets that will help you have the birth you desire.

Notes from the Trenches: One of the best strategies for the difficult transition period in labor is Ina May’s “horselips.” You may feel silly doing them, but they really do help!

Ina May inspires you to trust in yourself and in your body. Anyone can give birth naturally and Ina May shows it with her stories from The Farm and statistics and strategies to achieve a good birth (not just a good outcome of a healthy baby). You will love every minute reading this book and you’ll want to read it over and over. It is inspiring and empowering.

Want more empowering midwife memoirs? Check out Diary of a Midwife: The Power of Positive Childbearing by Juliana van Olphen-Fehr and
Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent.

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The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth

by Henci Goer

Take-away point: Whatever you choose, make informed decisions.

If you want to know about all your options for birth in great detail, this is the book to read. From anesthesia to VBAC, this book covers it all. With pros and cons, Henci Goer doesn’t make decisions for you, but helps you make an informed decision, understanding the trade-offs for potential decisions.

In fact, even if your birth plan goes out the window, and an unplanned Cesarean becomes part of your birth story, she has a chapter titled “Making a Cesarean a Positive Experience.” 

If this book isn’t enough for you, Henci Goer has also written Obstetric Myths Versus Research Realities: A Guide to the Medical Research.

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Birthing From Within

by Pam England

Take-away point: Birthing a baby is a labor of love.

This book helps expecting mothers (and fathers) face their fears. From birth art to mindful eating, this book focuses on being prepared mentally and spiritually for the hard work of labor and birth—in whatever way or place that birth occurs. Pam England emphasizes that the birth circumstances themselves are less important than your comfort-level WITH said birth circumstances.

Notes from the Trenches: I (Stefani) read so many books, articles, and blog posts about natural birth. The nearest birthing center was about an hour away, and no matter how much I read, I still felt nervous about a home birth option. Reading Birthing from Within helped me recognize that a small, community hospital birthing wing was the place that I felt most comfortable.

Depending on where you live, there may also be coordinating Birthing From Within childbirth classes in your area.

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The Natural Pregnancy Book

by Aviva Jill Romm

Take-away point: A holistic approach to pregnancy will ease you into motherhood.

With a forward by Ina May Gaskin, you know this book is going to be wonderful. While most of the book focuses on pregnancy care (including nutrition), an entire chapter focuses on “The Month Before Birth,” while others cover personal and family transformations. Additionally, Aviva Jill Romm gives countless recommendations for herbal and nutritional helps for common pregnancy and postpartum ailments. The better you care for yourself during pregnancy, the better you will feel as you approach labor and delivery.

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The Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health

by Dean Raffelock

Take-away point: Good nutrition is key to a healthy pregnancy and recovery.

Fair warning, this book has quite a bit of science jargon (with accompanying charts and illustrations). While the book’s focus is on postpartum healing and nutrition, much of the advice can be applied to pregnancy. Plus, once you know how to take care of yourself after baby arrives, it lessons the anticipatory fear of birth—and the fear of all that can come after—from soreness and constipation to the baby blues and postpartum depression.

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Childbirth Without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth

by Grantley Dick-Read

Take-away point: Fear in childbirth is not the natural way.

If you’ve read all of these above books and you still want more to read, pick up the first modern natural birth book. Originally published in 1959, it’s the pioneering, granddaddy, natural childbirth book of them all. Just ignore the cover if it offends you, though many women may find the picture empowering.

Bonus: Specific Method Books

These books are more specific in their birthing methods, focusing on different variations of breathing, relaxation and visualization. These methods can be buttressed by classes that may be available in your area.

These books have given countless women the confidence to birth their babies… whether at home, in a birthing center, or in a hospital… whether natural or with medical support. However you give birth, may you feel calmer, more comfortable and be blessed with a healthy baby.

Looking for Un-Maternity Wear?

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If you need to add some maternity clothing to your wardrobe, but don’t want to spend money on pieces you’ll only wear for a short period of time, then head on over to Melody Lane for the best in regular clothing that is versatile enough to wear before, during, and after pregnancy! They offer trendy, classic, and comfortable clothing that is hand-picked for all the life stages women usually experience. With nothing over $100, always free shipping, and new styles featured every season, Melody Lane makes sure your “fashion meets life”.

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Stefani Mons
Stefani Mons
Stefani was raised in California; with her husband hailing from South Carolina, they've settled in the middle and are now raising three Texans. She loves classical homeschooling, great books, period dramas, modifying recipes, simple living, deep thinking, and cuddling up with her family to watch silly YouTube videos.