When most women become pregnant, especially first-time mothers, they like to prepare for pregnancy and labor by reading books on the subject. Good pregnancy books will help you know what to expect before, during, and after labor.
Of course, there are lots of books on this subject so it can be hard to sift through them all and know which resources are the best.
As a doula, here are the best pregnancy books that I recommend for expecting mothers and fathers. They not only provide great facts and information, but they are encouraging and supportive of parents’ wishes during childbirth.
Consider reading all or some of these books if you are anticipating a little one in your life.
“Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide, 4th Edition”
by Penny Simkin, PT; Janet Whalley, RN, IBCLC; Ann Keppler, RN, MN; Janelle Durham, MSW, ICCE, LCCE; April Bolding, PT, DPT, CD, CCE
As this book states, it is the complete guide to pregnancy. It’s a pretty thick, textbook-style guide, but it is very informative. It also offers balanced information about all types of care, whether you prefer a more medical outlook on childbirth or you have a more natural perspective.
There are great reviews on Amazon, too. One reviewer said they read this book, as well as a few others like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and “The Mayo Clinic Pregnancy Book” and she thought this one was the most informative.
If you’re looking for an all-inclusive what to expect month-by-month type of book, this isn’t it. It does cover what changes you can expect in the baby and in your body for each trimester, but there’s not a monthly guide to what happens to your baby every step of the way.
If you’re interested in this information, you can always register on babycenter.com and get weekly reports and diagrams telling you what to expect at that stage.
Overall, almost anything you want to know about pregnancy, childbirth and your newborn is covered in this book. It’s an easy read and a great resource to have.
“The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth”
by Henci Goer
This was “The Book” that got me excited about having a baby. It was also the book that gave me the information I needed to understand what goes on at the hospital during labor. Personally, before reading this book I wanted an epidural so I wouldn’t feel any pain. But once I was finished it, I was dead-set on the idea that I wanted an all-natural home birth.
Obviously, not everyone will feel the same way when they read it, and that’s perfectly fine. The book is biased towards natural labor and it does a good job of explaining why.
But it’s also a great resource to have just to know what goes on at the hospital. It educates the reader and gives women confidence to know how to handle situations that can take place during labor.
Surrendering to the doctor or hospital staff is an option that many women take, without educating themselves first on their options. With this book, you can know your options so that during pregnancy and labor you feel as though you have more control.
This all goes back to the number one reason women have positive memories of their birth experience. It’s important for women to feel that they have a voice when decisions need to be made.
“The Birth Partner”
by Penny Simkin
As the title suggests, this book is more geared towards the laboring woman’s partner than the mother. It is an excellent guide for dads or anyone else who will offer support to the mother during labor.
While a lot of the information is also covered in other pregnancy books, this book specifically gives information that the partner will be concerned about, such as attending childbirth classes, recognizing the stages of labor, and how to comfort the mother with different techniques.
It also informs the partner about procedures in the hospital and good questions the partner can ask the care providers. It’s a great resource for the partner to have and to take to the birth.
As one dad says on an Amazon review, “this book helped me prepare for what my wife was going to go through and gave me the tools and confidence to help her through everything she went through. I would recommend this book to all new fathers.”
This doesn’t mean it’s only a good read for dads and other partners. Mothers can benefit from the information in this book as well.
“Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth”
by Ina May Gaskin
When women become pregnant, they start hearing all sorts of birth stories from other women, whether they’re family, friends, or complete strangers. These stories are sometimes positive and encouraging, but they can also be scary for expecting women.
Ina May’s book is full of positive, true birth stories that encourage and empower women. The first half of the book is devoted to women telling their experiences on The Farm with Ina May and other midwives.
The second half of the book is devoted to the medical aspects and the process of labor. Ultimately, Ina May is trying to show how medical interventions are not always necessary and can in fact create problems during labor and delivery.
Its a good read, especially if you’re interested in knowing what natural labor is like.
“Birthing From Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation”
by Pam England and Rob Horowitz
This book has a holistic approach to childbirth and treats birth as an act of self discovery. It discusses different activities a mother can do while pregnant, including meditation and journaling.
In addition to the birth process, England also gives information for the postpartum period, including baby basics like sleep training, bathing a baby, and breastfeeding.
It doesn’t promote one specific type of birth, but instead encourages and helps each couple to discover and carry out the best birth for them.
There are a lot of great Amazon reviews on this book. Some say it helped them with their childbirth more than any other book they read.
Which Book is Best for You?
Before deciding to purchase any of these books (or other pregnancy books), I recommend looking at reviews from other consumers. Of course, not everyone will love every book, so there will always be some negative reviews.
But reading over why someone likes or dislikes a book will help you decide if it’s right for you.
No matter what type of birth you desire to have, it is a good idea to read about pregnancy and labor to be prepared for what to expect. Women who are not prepared for childbirth tend to have a much more difficult time and negative experience.
Having your baby will be a life-changing event and not something you want to take lightly.