Books to Help Prepare for a Natural Childbirth

If you are considering having your baby without medications like the epidural, or even just looking into it, it is important that you prepare your mind, your body, and your support system. These books all offer something special to helping you build your ideal birth and dealing with labor as it happens, including twists and turns that may be unexpected in the road.

Some of these books are how-to books — books that will give you guidance on specifically what you can do to help make labor more comfortable. This might be physical comfort techniques like positions to use in labor or breathing techniques, but it could also be more of how to find a supportive team to help you during the birth process. This might include finding a doctor or midwife who is used to attending births for women who choose to go unmedicated or other support you can find, like that of a trained labor support person, like a doula.


The Official Lamaze Guide

Pregnant Caucasian woman reading baby books on sofa
Books on Natural Childbirth. JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

This book is an instant classic! With great advice, humor and birth stories, Lothian and DeVries share the truth about birth and how to make it a wonderful time in your life. The factual information is provided in a practical way, including how to pick a place of birth, talk to your doctor or midwife and most importantly how to trust your body.


Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth

Ina May Gaskin is a world-famous midwife. Her book is half birth story and half factual guide to having a baby. Her tone is very down to earth and easy to read, without all of the medical jargon that brings down so many books. Many women find these birth stories to be a welcome relief after being taunted with horror stories from many directions. Some women find this a bit out there, but one mom put it into perspective: "You hear so much on the other end of the spectrum, that it's nice to see the opposite end and hope your birth is in the middle."


The Birth Partner

Technically this book is for those that help you in labor, but it's a great read for you too. I highly recommend that anyone you invite to your birth be familiar with this book. It's very practically written and thoughtfully laid out to be a quick reference to labor. Penny Simkin, the author, is a childbirth educator and doula, so she has used these techniques in hundreds of births.


Birthing From Within

This guide to birth is written by a midwife. Many of the activities are for emotional and physical preparation, this is something very needed. Many women are keen on the facts, but fail to prepare themselves physically and emotionally for the tasks of birthing.


Good Birth, Safe Birth

I originally read this book many years ago when I was expecting my first baby. It really helped me realize why I wanted an unmedicated birth and how to talk to others about that desire. This book showed me all the benefits of natural birth to me and my baby.

A Few Closing Thoughts

There are certainly other books out there that talk a bit about unmedicated or natural childbirth. These books usually only contain a few paragraphs or a chapter to the topic. These books were selected for being almost entirely dedicated to having a more natural and less intervention ladened birth. Even if you are planning to use an epidural in labor, there is a great benefit in learning additional techniques to help keep you comfortable until you are able to get an epidural.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.