Whether this is your first rodeo or if you are already a parent, pregnancy and birth can feel like a daunting and overwhelming experience. Information is flying at you from all directions… from your doctor or midwife, from the Internet and TV, and of course the (often unsolicited) advice from well-meaning friends and family. How do you even begin to sift through all the noise to find the information that’s right for you?
First off, it is always a good idea to find a provider you are comfortable with, who you trust, and whose values on birth align with your own to help you navigate the medical aspects of your pregnancy. At the same time, educating yourself about birth and pregnancy is extremely important to help you figure out the kinds of questions to ask and to help you form your own ideas about what you want your birth experience to be.
If a non-medicated birth is something you aspire to, (ie. Vaginal, no induction, no pain medication) it is important to find resources that will provide you with tools to not only navigate the discomfort that childbirth can bring, but to also inspire and encourage you to rethink your assumptions about the possibilities of birth. In many ways, the “horror stories” of birth have been culturally engrained in us… this can make the idea of “natural” or non-medicated birth seem like something that is hard or impossible to attain. But this can’t be further from the truth.
In reality, the majority of birthing people are capable of having a completely non-medicated birth. And with the right information, and loads of inspiration and positive affirmation, it is totally doable. Check out the list below of 5 Must-Read books that can support you in your journey toward achieving a non-medicated birth. With inspiring birth stories, comfort techniques, and evidence-based information about birth and pregnancy, these books can help you to feel confident and empowered in achieving the birth you envision.
Did you know? Having a doula has been shown to decrease use of Pitocin (for induction) by 31% and decrease need for pain medication by 9%.1 If you are looking to have a non-medicated birth, contact me to discuss how a doula can support your goals!
1. Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz
Here is a holistic approach to childbirth that examines this profound rite-of-passage not as a medical event but as an act of self-discovery. Exercises and activities such as journal writing, meditation, and painting will help mothers analyze their thoughts and face their fears during pregnancy. For use during birth, the book offers proven techniques for coping with labor pain without drugs, a discussion of the doctor or midwife’s role, and a look at the father’s responsibilities.
2. The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
Since the original publication of The Birth Partner, new mothers' partners, friends, relatives and doulas (professional birth assistants) have relied on Penny Simkin's guidance in caring for the new mother from the last few weeks of pregnancy through the early postpartum period. Fully revised in its fourth edition, The Birth Partner remains the definitive guide for preparing to help a woman through childbirth and the essential manual to have at hand during the event.
3. Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke, C.N.M.
With Mindful Birthing, Nancy Bardacke, nurse-midwife and mindfulness teacher, lays out her innovative program for pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond. Drawing on groundbreaking research in neuroscience, mindfulness meditation, and mind/body medicine, Bardacke offers practices that will help you find calm and ease during this life-changing time, providing lifelong skills for healthy living and wise parenting.
4. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah J. Buckley, M.D.
An authoritative guide to natural childbirth and postpartum parenting options from an MD who home-birthed her own four children.
Sarah Buckley might be called a third-wave natural birth advocate. A doctor and a mother, she approaches the question of how a woman and baby might have the most fulfilling birth experience with respect for the wisdom of both medical science and the human body. Using current medical and epidemiological research plus women's experiences (including her own), she demonstrates that what she calls "undisturbed birth" is almost always healthier and safer than high-technology approaches to birth. Her wise counsel on issues like breastfeeding and sleeping during postpartum helps extend the gentle birth experience into a gentle parenting relationship.
5. Childbirth Without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth by Grantly Dick-Read
In an age where birth has often been overtaken by obstetrics, Dr Dick-Read's philosophy is still as fresh and relevant as it was when he originally wrote this book. He unpicks every possible root cause of western woman's fear and anxiety in pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding and does so with overwhelming heart and empathy. Essential reading for all parents-to-be, childbirth educators, midwives and obstetricians!