One of the first things I wanted to do when I got pregnant was to buy books! It’s just the way I am. Whenever I’m faced with anything new, my first instinct is always to get more information. Knowledge is power, right?
However, I felt very overwhelmed by the millions of pregnancy, birth and baby books out there. I didn’t know where to start and most of all, I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t waste my time reading too many books that didn’t share my philosophy of using prevention, natural options and empowering women in the process rather than turning pregnancy and birth into a medical event.
Here’s a list of 10 of my favorite books plus a bonus of 6 additional books addressing very specific topics that might interest you (even though you may not have heard of some of them yet) if you’re considering a natural pregnancy, an undisturbed birth and gentle parenting.
Enjoy the read!
(click on the respective images of the books to get more info and order directly from amazon)
1. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley, MD
This is by far my favorite book. I feel like every pregnant woman (or any woman considering to get pregnant in the near future) should read this book to learn more about their options because these are unfortunately not always clearly explained by most health care providers. It’s written by a doctor in Australia who had 4 healthy children at home. She provides a lot of scientific references and cover topics like ultraounds, GBS (Group B Streptococcus) testing, the hormones of birth, pain management during labor, co-sleeping, elimination communication (see the diaper-free book below) and much more.
If you like the kind of information she presents, I highly recommend becoming a member of her Gentle Natural Birth Membership Program to get access to more resources and webinars. Click below to get more info:
2. Hypnobirthing by Marie F. Mongan
This book gives a good overview of what birth has been like throughout history and how the power of birthing has unfortunately been taken away from women by doctors.
I don’t really like the word “hypnobirthing” because hypnosis has somewhat of a bad connotation for me (I don’t even know why!), but I think of it as meditation and relaxation. And really, that’s all the same and that’s simply a good state of mind to be in as often as possible, especially when giving birth. It includes concrete technique and a CD with audio tracks to help you practice throughout your pregnancy.
I have to say that I find the voice of the author a bit annoying and ended up buying a bunch of audios from the website The Birth Year which resonate a lot better with me.
I liked the idea of hypnobirthing so much that I took a class in my area. I think it was a good way to become more confident in using the techniques and expose my husband to the philosophy and technique so he can support me better on the B day.
3. Birthing from Within
This book is quite different from most other birth book and is perfect to explore your creative side. Even if you don’t feel like you have any artistic skills, this book gives many good exercises to make the right side of your brain work better and explore different emotions and fears your might have through drawing for example. I had not drawn in years it seems but really enjoyed the process. It can be just another way to relax and explore your feelings.
It also goes beyond that, it’s not just about drawing. There are many good chapters sharing stories, traditions and birth positions as well as a few sections that I want my husband to read about the dad and its role in this great adventure.
4.The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD
I think this book is definitely worth it just to learn about the 5 “S’s” technique to calm fussy babies (from colic for example) and help the whole family be happier. I’ve heard quite a few parents using the technique with great results. Will report back once I get a chance to try it. 🙂
5. Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina
We hear so many different things about what makes a baby smart… Some people say that we should have baby listen to Mozart as often as possible, even inside the womb. Others try to sell you all their educational toys, games and television programs. But this book tells you what matters the most and it might actually surprise you! It certainly surprised me. 😉
6. The Birth Partner
I read this book and asked my husband to read it too. This book is full of really practical tips, including birth positions, massage techniques and other strategies to help women have an easy and smooth labor supported by their loved ones.
7. Sacred Pregnancy
This book is a week-by-week spiritual and emotional journey, with exercises, journaling space and beautiful photography. Just a beautiful book that can help you honor your pregnancy on all levels. Pregnancy truly is sacred.
8. Unhindered Childbirth
This book might be a bit out there if you haven’t heard about unhindered birth (also called “free birth” or “unassisted childbirth”). I wouldn’t recommend this as a first book but please read it if you have an open-mind and really want to see how you can trust the birth process, how it is not a medical event and how your body and your baby know exactly what to do. I am choosing a home birth with a midwife for my first birth but it might be something I consider in a few years for my next little one.
9. Primal Moms Look Good Naked
This book is great to learn about ancestral nutrition during pregnancy to make a healthy baby while staying healthy. It also address other typical health issues that pregnant women often develop. The fact that these are common doesn’t make them normal! Learn about skin health (cellulite, varicose veins, stretch marks), pelvic floor muscle and appropriate weight gain from this mom of 2 kids who has PCOS just like me.
10. Everyday Blessings – the inner work of mindful parenting
I was recommended this book by a friend and really loved it. It’s very different than any other book out there and is something you should reach if you’re interested in mindfulness. I am just realizing now as I’m writing this that it’s the same author as “Full Catastrophe Living” and the well-known and recognized “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” program which I followed last year (and highly recommend). It’s the kind of book that I definitely think I’ll be reading again on a regular basis to remind me of the things that truly matter. <3
More specific topics
On the topic of cosleeping:
I think co-sleeping with our baby makes a lot of sense from an evolutionary perspective and this book explains the whys very well. Do you think our ancestors trained their babies to sleep in the cave next door? Providing the security and comfort your baby needs is not spoiling your baby and won’t prevent him/her to become independent later. It also explains the different ways (same bed, crib right next to the parent’s bed or crib in the same room) to co-sleep with your baby and how to do it safely. I can’t wait to try it!
On the topic of elimination communication / diaper-free babies:
The first time I read about elimination communication / diaper-free baby, I found the idea very weird… but it certainly made me curious. After all, all animals have the instinct of eliminating away from their nest/living area… and it is probably very unnatural for babies, at least before they get used to it, to soil themselves every time they pee and poop.
This book explains how you can practice elimination communication (because it’s not really about a diaper-free baby but more about learning the cues your baby sends you when it needs to eliminate), whether you do it on a full-time or part-time basis. In fact, many parents in countries in Asia and Africa never use diapers and simply train their little ones using these principles.
I have my cloth diapers ready but am excited to give these techniques a try, if only to save a few diaper changes a day. 🙂
On the topic of Baby-Led Weaning (introduction of solid foods):
The Baby-Led Weaning technique has been quite popular in the UK and Australia and is now gaining momentum in the USA and Canada. It basically explains how to introduce solid foods to your baby without having to rely on purees. And not having to buy / make your own purees is not the only benefit. Allowing your little one to eat the same food you eat gives him/her more control and tend to make meal times a more enjoyable experience for the whole family.
On the topic of baby wearing:
My goal is to not have to buy a stroller at all. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it work, but I really want to try baby wearing as much as I can. Not only are strollers expensive and bulky but baby wearing is healthier for both mom and baby. That’s how humans have been carrying their little ones for thousands of years and how it’s still done in many countries where traditions are still embraced rather than thrown away by the window.
How to take care of your child’s health naturally:
I haven’t had to use this book too much yet but it seems to be the perfect resource to have on hand whenever your little one gets sick. You can simply look up symptoms / conditions like ear infection, colics, teething, motion sickness and constipation to better understand what it means and get information about both the conventional and more natural treatment options you can choose. The natural options include nutrition recommendations, herbal treatment and homeopathy. Each section also includes many prevention tips.
On the topic of vaccination:
This is a very controversial topic and every family has to make their own decision… bu this book can help you better understand the pros and cons of various vaccines so you can decide which ones offer more benefits than risks for your little one. It’s not about telling you what you should do or that all vaccines are bad, it’s just giving you the information you need to make an educated decision.