While preparing for the birth of my first baby I never even thought about reading books about pregnancy. I took a hospital childbirth class, read that manual, did yoga and called it good. Then it ended in a C-Section. Baby #2 I was trying for a VBAC, so I took HypnoBirthing and read that book 3 times over (find it in my list below!) but I still didn’t read any other books about birth. It just didn’t occur to me. I thought my body could handle it all on its own and didn’t see how a book could possibly help. That one ended in a C-Section, too.
NOW, during my pregnancy with Baby #3, while prepping for a VBA2C (aka VBAMC aka Vaginal Birth After 2 or Multiple Cesareans) I’ve finally caught on to the whole birth book reading thing. And man. I wonder how different my other deliveries would have gone if I had just read these fantastic birth books from the get-go with pregnancy #1!
Alas, we can’t go back in time, but hopefully, I can help convince you early enough in your birth journeys to pick up one of these books and read them from beginning to end. To receive a handy list straight in your inbox to take to the library or book/thrift store, just enter your email below! Without further ado:
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that, at no added cost to you, I may receive compensation for products you purchase through links found on my blog. (Thank you, thank you!) This in no way affects the products I recommend (I only recommend the best)!*
*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, so please consult your physician before attempting any of these suggestions. Use your best judgment. What worked for me may not work for you. Each body is different and unique. Do what you feel is best at your own risk. I am not liable for any consequences. I am a blogger. This is a blog meant to provide opinions, suggestions, experiences, and information. Not medical advice. I am human and make mistakes, so information may not be 100% complete or accurate. Thank you, and enjoy!*
The 3 Best Books You Need to Read Right Now to Prepare for Birth (whether C-Section, VBAC, or just plain Vaginal)
This gem is THE best. So if you only read one on this list- read this one. It was written by a VBAC mom. She’s also a midwiwfe. So she knows birth inside and out.
The most important thing to get from this book is Pam’s step-by-step guide to handling worries and fears. She doesn’t tell you “Just let go of your fears and only think positive thoughts!” What does that even mean?? No. This wonderful woman gives you a framework of how to write down each and every single one of your most tiny fears (pooping during labor? not getting your midwife/OB? Husband/You passing out at the sight of blood?) and your big fears (Baby dying? You dying? Hemorrhaging? Get it all out in writing), and productively break them down and work through them. It is so effective.
I had 2 birth experiences to pull legitimate fears and concerns from, so I had about 4 notebook pages full of worries. My husband and I discussed each and every one and wrote down the answers to her 6 questions for each one. It felt so liberating.
Definitely, buy this book. You’ll want to highlight and write notes all over it. And keep a notebook and pen right next to you while you read. Easy Amazon access by clicking on the image below:
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is definitely the most “crunchy” book on this list. However, don’t be put off by the constant encouragement for home birth. Ina May offers valuable insights into the intimate nature of pregnancy and birth. I skipped straight to part 2 to get to the juicy scientific facts and actual physiological aspects of birth. But if you need to hear some positive and encouraging birth stories, then definitely go back and read part 1. I have read through some of them, but they just frustrate me and fill me with envy. I am slowly overcoming this by listening to the VBAC Link podcast (which also used to fill me with envy and frustration, but now just fills me with empowerment and inspiration), so I might go back and read Part 1 of her Guide eventually.
She focuses a lot on how pregnancy and birth is a natural, normal part of life that is as scary as pooping. It was nice to feel that mothers have an innate strength and capability to bear children.
The most interesting part I found in her book was the connection between sexuality and childbearing (among many other things, like men in the birthing space, etc- this just stood out to me the most). This was poignant for me and was an idea first introduced to me through TedX talks and other similar videos. I was perusing around the internet trying to find VBAC inspiration and found these gems.
Unlocking my ability to orgasm during Pregnancy #3- especially during the 3rd trimester, when we had previously just accepted that I “didn’t orgasm during the 3rd trimester” seems like a crucial thing to have unlocked for childbirth. If I can’t relax enough to peak during something I do frequently, how can I possibly relax enough to open up and deliver a baby- an event that happens much less frequently? We’ll see how helpful this actually turns out to be in May (when I deliver Baby #3).
The class is definitely worth investing in (read my post all about it here), but if all you can afford is the textbook, go ahead and buy it! You can find free pregnancy affirmations and guided meditation videos on YouTube.
The book teaches why relaxation is vital for reduced pain during labor. It also explains normal birth and emphasizes the importance of birth preparation. Practice is essential to reap the full benefits of meditation.
3 More Pregnancy & Birth Books of Notable Mention
Because I don’t have all the time in the world, I haven’t had a chance to read all the pregnancy and birth books I want. This is my list of future reads that intrigue me:
I signed up for her weekly pregnancy Facebook messenger and email updates. It is nice during this 3rd pregnancy to have a little reminder of how far along I am. I would have no idea if it wasn’t for Genevieve! My due date changed at the beginning of my pregnancy, and it was super easy and seamless to change the date. She offers a plethora of knowledge and advice on her blog, so I really want to purchase her book!
Here is another, more recent, book by Pam England, the author of Birthing From Within. According to the description, it talks about navigating the spiritual journey to birth while simultaneously navigating modern ideologies. It had raving reviews, so I am excited for it to hit my doorstep!
3. Birth Without Fear: The Judgment-Free Guide to Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum by January Harshe
I just ordered this book on Amazon, and it gave me a little preview of the first few pages- and I legit could not put it down! It was amazing! It was written by a VBA2C mom! She had 2 C-Sections, then 2 home births. She had 1 positive and 1 negative Cesarean experience, and 1 positive and 1 negative home birth experience. Amazing. I can’t wait to dive into this book!
What pregnancy & birth books do you love?
If you only get one book on this list in preparation for your VBAC, get Birthing From Within. Hands down the best one to help overcome previous birth traumas, normal pregnancy concerns, and prepare for a vaginal or surgical delivery. But, all these books have gold nuggets in them. Let me know how you like them! Just comment below, on Facebook, Instagram, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org