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Whether you’re a seasoned parent or a first-time mother, every birth experience is different, and not every mom knows what to expect during or after childbirth. From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, your mind may be filled with questions about healthcare providers, hospitals, and birth plans. Even though the delivery process can sometimes be unpredictable, preparing for childbirth and educating yourself about your birth options will help you decide what kind of birth you want to plan for.
Knowing what to expect can also ease anxiety and make it an overall more positive experience for you while also teaching you how to advocate for yourself during the process. Many first-time parents may rely on their care providers or those around them to advocate for them and decide what to do, but empowering yourself with knowledge is the best way to prepare for this life-changing event. Although most moms want to prepare for birth in some way, many expecting parents may not know when or where to start.
The sheer amount of information and resources out there can be overwhelming, and sometimes unsolicited advice from others can contribute to these intense feelings. If you find yourself unsure how to start preparing for childbirth, we’ve narrowed down some of the best resources for you.
When should you start preparing?
One of the questions many moms have during their pregnancy is when they should start preparing for childbirth. In the 1st trimester, many expecting women are simply trying to get through all of the hormonal changes and the morning sickness that often occurs in the beginning of a pregnancy. Once the 2nd trimester rolls around, you may feel ready to start planning.
It’s never too early to start preparing and looking up information about childbirth, but for most moms, the 2nd trimester is the best time to start digging into their research. Most pregnant women report feeling more energy during the 2nd trimester, and for many, some of the more challenging pregnancy symptoms have subsided by that time.
If you plan on taking childbirth classes, it’s important to start planning by the 2nd trimester. Some birth classes can last as long as 12 weeks, and you don’t want to miss out on valuable information if you’re already further along in your pregnancy.
9 best books for preparing for childbirth
When you’re preparing for childbirth, you have a lot of decisions to make, and the months can go by fast. There are many childbirth classes, podcasts, and blogs out there designed to educate and encourage pregnant women. All of these are great options for learning, researching, and gathering information about the birth process.
Still, one of the ways many women prepare for childbirth is simply through reading books that provide helpful tips, advice, and information about pregnancy and birth.
To help you get ready for your little one’s arrival, here are 9 of the best books that deal with preparing for childbirth.
1. Ina May’s guide to childbirth
Ina May’s guide to childbirth has always been one of my favorite birth books because of the wisdom and insight the author offers.
With over 30 years of experience as a midwife, Ina May gives practical tips and shares inspiring stories to prepare you for your birth experience.
She does focus on the benefits of a natural birth and natural pain management, but this guide is useful for any woman wishing to learn more about how to have a positive birth experience.
2. Pregnancy, childbirth, and the newborn: The complete guide
This book is not only an extensive guide on childbirth, but it also provides complete information about pregnancy and caring for a newborn. The authors of Pregnancy, childbirth, and the newborn explain what a normal pregnancy and birth can look like while also informing you what variations and complications are possible in a way that doesn’t spark fear or anxiety.
Written by 5 different women with combined experience in childbirth education, nursing, and social work, this book offers knowledge beneficial to every pregnant woman, no matter what background they come from.
3. The birth book: Everything you need to know to have a safe and satisfying birth
Authors Dr. Bill and Martha Sears are pediatric specialists and the creators of the concept of “attachment parenting.”
In The birth book, they offer valuable information about preparing for a joyful and safe birth experience. This insight is split into 3 parts: “Preparing for Birth,” “Easing Pain in Labor,” and “Experiencing Birth.”
The authors acknowledge the many options women have in childbirth and how getting ready for their baby’s arrival requires planning and careful decision-making. If you’re unsure what your own philosophy on birth is, this resource can help you make those challenging decisions.
4. The birth partner: Everything you need to know to help a woman through childbirth
Even though The birth partner is meant to be a resource for the person supporting you during childbirth, I read it while I was pregnant and found it was a great resource for me as well.
The book includes information on how to know when labor starts, pain management techniques in labor, and information about newborn care. If you have a specific person or partner supporting you during the birth, this would be a great book for you to read together.
5. The doula guide to childbirth: Secrets every pregnant woman should know
This book is not only a guide to childbirth but also a guide to doulas, or professional labor assistants. Ananda Lowe has worked with pregnant women for many years and has extensive knowledge about birth and the benefit of having a doula as part of your experience.
Knowing what your options are during the birth process can help you have a better experience, and this book gives you a useful overview of your birth options.
6. The thinking woman’s guide to a better birth
Henci Goer has been a certified Lamaze instructor and doula for over 20 years. In The thinking woman’s guide to a better birth, she offers information on medical studies involving birth as well as a thorough overview of topics such as cesareans, induction, and doulas.
No matter what kind of birth you are planning, Goer helps you consider all options and avoid any unnecessary procedures during the delivery process.
The purpose of this book is to acknowledge that, as an intelligent woman, you desire to know as much about the birth process as you can and to provide information that will help you feel confident before your due date.
7. The complete book of pregnancy & childbirth
This extensive guide to childbirth contains scientific research, diagrams, and information about the labor process.
If you’re looking for a book that provides the information you need about birth all in one place, The complete book of pregnancy & childbirth may be the right one for you.
The new edition also has revised information and research about medical advances and current trends. It also includes illustrations of relaxation postures for birth to help prepare you, as well as a section for fathers.
8. Mayo Clinic guide to a healthy pregnancy
Written by Mayo Clinic’s childbirth experts, this book contains a large amount of information about preparing to get pregnant, having a healthy pregnancy, and knowing what to expect during childbirth.
The Mayo Clinic guide is helpful for parents of all kinds, whether first-timers or seasoned ones in need of some wise advice about parenting.
This guide offers information about different types of births in a way that is factual yet easy to understand.
9. The first-time parent’s childbirth handbook: A step-by-step guide for building your birth plan
The goal of this handbook is to empower first-time parents with knowledge about their options and to prepare them to make the best decision for the birth.
You may have a lot of questions about childbirth, and this book provides answers to many of those first-time parents have about what happens before, during, and after birth.
It includes checklists and a step-by-step process to writing a birth plan to help you feel confident and in control during childbirth.
No matter what kind of birth you have planned, preparing and researching will effectively assist you in having the experience you want. The process of planning for birth can be overwhelming at times, so you shouldn’t try to navigate it alone. Having the support of others who have been there can ease many of your fears and concerns.
These books will help you become informed about exactly what your body is capable of during birth and what to expect before, during, and after delivery. No matter what happens, remember that your body was designed to give birth, and many women have been where you’re headed.