If you read only one book in preparation for your birth, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is the one I recommend. I believe it will lower your chances of needing the things you are probably hoping to avoid (health complications for mom or baby, C-section, vacuums or forceps delivery) and it will increase your knowledge and satisfaction.
The first 127 pages of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth are recounted birth stories – many of them. Something very important happens when one arrives on the other side of a journey through birth stories. You learn that you are in good company. Women give birth, and so will you. You learn what it might be like and what it might not be like. You come away with a huge knowledge base about the variations that are common in labor and how women find their way through the intense experience. Most importantly, you learn all of this in a way that somehow enters a part of your brain that you can truly draw from when you need it. It will not be carefully organized knowledge compartmentalized in a form you recall in answer to specific questions. It will be knowledge you access as a person while you act.
The rest of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is educational, regarding both how birth works and how to help it go well. It includes biological factors and information about different types of care and different birth environments and how they impact you. It covers everything you need to know.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth‘s author is a total hippie. She and her husband traveled from California to Tennessee in a caravan of retrofitted buses and started an intentional community in the 1970’s. The majority of folks in America may think that she will be a bit out-of-touch with their reality and that what she has to say about birthing may not apply to them if they don’t drink herbal tea and plan to birth at a hospital. I can understand your concern but it’s simply not true. Birthing biology is pretty timeless and a great equalizer. It works the same regardless of your political views.
What Ina May speaks to in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is biology and the impacts of culture and environment (such as nutrition, emotions, support, and everyday choices) on this biology. It is profoundly practical and applicable to just about anyone. She speaks frankly and humorously and with the obvious wisdom of experience. Ina May is clearly at peace with herself, knowledgeable in her field, and not out to judge anyone, but rather to share what she knows.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth’s Author, Ina May Gaskin
Ina May Gaskin is a Certified Professional Midwife who learned midwifery through self-education, experience, and guidance from doctors and other midwives. She writes and speaks on promoting improved maternal and infant health. Her current work can be seen at InaMay.com.