Resources & Recommendations
There’s a lot of information out there, but not all of it is beneficial for you. If something you read or hear increases your fear or undermines your confidence, dump it. Instead seek material that portrays birth and motherhood as healthy, natural, and empowering. You deserve to be inspired and uplifted while being informed. Here are my top choices, guaranteed to do just that.
Books & Videos
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor’s Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices, by Sarah Buckley, M.D.
An absolutely gorgeous book by an Australian doctor and four-time home birth mother. Her combination of science, clinical expertise, and parenting experience makes for a comprehensive book of tremendous value. It engages and enlivens all of you: head, heart, and spirit.
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Better Birth, by Henci Goer.
This is “informed consent” in a slim, highly readable volume. Goer has read all the medical studies on the common interventions of labor and birth and their outcomes. Her research into the research reveals that “every intervention introduces a risk that is not inherent to childbirth.” If you want to know the risks and benefits, this is one-stop-shopping.
Rediscovering Birth, by Sheila Kitzinger.
Kitzinger is a world-renowned birth educator and activist. This book is a fascinating lay-person’s history and anthropology of birth. It reframed birth for me – from a traumatic medical event into a deeply meaningful and empowering rite-of-passage – and is the reason I’m here, going on about birth and mothers!
Spiritual Midwifery, by Ina May Gaskin.
Ina May and this book are classics. If you don’t already know her, Ina May (everybody calls her Ina May, not “Gaskin”) single-handedly rescued midwifery in America. She is a self-trained midwife who attended thousands of home births on her commune in Tennessee. If you want to know what a positive birth culture looks like and are ready to be dazzled by the ecstasy and safety of homebirth, read this.
The Business of Being Born, a film by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein.
A comprehensive look at the birth culture in America today. It does everything well — research, production values, pacing, the science and the human interest — and engages skeptics and husbands, too!
HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method, by Marie Mongan.
What can I say about this wonderful book and method, which I used to birth my babies and which impressed me so much that I taught it for seven years? HypnoBirthing uses self-hypnosis techniques and scripts to help you release your fears of birth and increase your trust in your body and in Nature’s way of birthing. Most people love the deep relaxation, breathing and visualizations of HypnoBirthing and find that these practices help them enjoy their pregnancy and have an easier, more comfortable birth.
On Mothering Your Baby
Yes, after the birth you will have a baby. So it’s a good idea to include in your pregnancy reading a few books on mothering. I read a lot of books – in catch-up mode, after my first child was born. On the day that I (a lover of books) actually tore up a copy of The Baby Whisperer and threw it across the room in a demented rage, I finally realized that not all advice was created equal! Motherhood and babies are not a one-size-fits-all enterprise. Your time and energy are precious, so only entrust them to ideas that jibe with your own intuition – i.e. make you feel good – and reject anything that undermines you – i.e. makes you feel bad. These books not only made me feel good, they helped me to be a better mom:
Sleep is a huge issue for new parents. This was the only book on the subject that really delivered on its promises. Its approach is gentle: neither my baby nor I ever cried following its advice. Instead of relying on tiring a baby out from crying – or you from rocking or walking or feeding, etc. – it shows you how to identify the cues your baby will give you when he’s sleepy, so that you can act immediately, so he will fall asleep easily, on his own, which helped him to stay asleep and wake up happy. (Babies don’t cry when they’re tired; they cry when they’re overtired.) This book was a keystone for us.
What Mothers Do, Especially When It Looks Like Nothing, by Naomi Stadlen.
I wish I had read this book before I had my first child. I just heard about it from one of my HypnoBirthing moms, and what a gem it is. It’s the only book I’ve come across (that isn’t a memoir) that tells the story of what it feels like to be a new mother. There’s nothing like the joy of identification when you feel like you’re doing it alone and all wrong.
I like this book so much I’m leading a book discussion group on it. Join us!
On Mothering After the Baby Stage
Your baby is no longer a baby. Your little person is entering a new and exciting phase of development, and so are you as a mother. Here’s a book to support you both:
How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlisch.
The title says it all. It’s a practical, easy guide to effective two-way communication with your child. It’s based on an idea that will resonate with parents who favor a more natural style of parenting: that children are people, too, and respond best when they are treated with respect. Topics include helping children deal with their feelings; engaging cooperation; encouraging autonomy; praise, and others. I’ve read a dozen other books on raising children, and nothing has improved upon or added to this classic.
When Your Kids Push Your Buttons: And What You Can Do About It, by Bonnie Harris.
This compassionate book by experienced parent educator Bonnie Harris is another on my short list of must-reads. Parents and children are going to disagree. Often we parents experience these inevitable disagreements as a threats to our authority and a power struggle ensues, ending with the parent forcing her will on the child or capitulating — in other words, with everyone losing. Into the breach steps Harris with another way. Her book is ‘about taking responsibility for your part in the conflict and then learning to neutralize your reactions so they stop interfering with your parenting.’ The result is calmer, wiser leadership from parents and deepened communication and relationship with the child. Organized by topic with scores of helpful examples and exercises.
Breastfeeding Online Resources:
Click on link to visit La Leche League.
Here you will find answers to your breastfeeding and parenting questions, drawn from the various resources on our site, conveniently grouped by topic. Resources come from New Beginnings (our publication for parents), Leaven (our publication for our volunteer Leaders), Breastfeeding Abstracts (our publication for professionals), our Frequently Asked Questions collection, and our podcasts.
Online Magazine and Blogs:
Mothering.com is an online magazine and community emphasizing natural parenting and family living.
You will find articles and blog posts on everything from breastfeeding, natural parenting, recipes, and much more.
Have you told your story?