What To Read When You're Expecting

I promised you guys a while ago that I would post a list of books I've read so far on midwifery/positive childbirth, and I'm sorry that I'm just now getting to it, but hey--my excuse of just getting back into the country should be still valid, right? Riiiiiight?

Anyways, let's start with a book that you should read if you have lady-parts.

I don't care if you're not planning on kids, pregnant, done with kids, menopausal, or prepubescent--every single woman I know should read. this. book. It's not exactly related to midwifery/childbirth, but I lump it in there because 1) it is an amazing book, and 2) if you do want to start TTC (that's Trying To Conceive, for all you abbreviation-illiterate peeps out there), then this is the book that will get you on the right track.

It is

(drumroll please)

Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

Like I said before, it does not matter to me if you just had a baby, if you plan on having babies, or if you never plan on having babies--if you have a uterus, READ THIS BOOK.

I learned things about my body and my period that I had never learned before. Simple things that made a huge difference. Just to share one thing: did you know that you can know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, when your body ovulates? It's not a mystery. Anyone can know it. It's not something you have to estimate or guess at. And knowing exactly when you ovulate can (obviously) be incredibly helpful when you are trying to make a baby.

But even more than that, it talks about things that you should know as caretaker of your own body. Seriously, that book blew my mind.

Read and then call me and we can geek out over it.

And honestly, you should probably just buy it. Because I waited for over two months to get my hands on a copy from my local library. THAT'S how popular it is. It is the best $17 your uterus will ever spend.


Now, on to the other books. I'm just going to tell you every single book I've read, along with a very short description of each one. I'd like to do more in-depth reviews of my favorites, but for now, I'll leave you with the shortened version. I'll also give it 1-5 stars, depending on my recommendation.

The best ones are at the end, so if you're going to skip part of the list, make it the first part.

Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth by Randi Hutter Epstein 
* *
This book was not that great.  It wasn't very informative at all, and it was a little too bland for my liking.  Didn't really enjoy it and wouldn't really recommend reading it.  It didn't add any new information or insights to what I had already learned about the history of childbirth--so I felt strangely unsatisfied at the end.

Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein
* * *
You probably know this duo from the much-discussed documentary, "The Business of Being Born." It's on Netflix, if you're feeling adventurous. That being said, this book was pretty good, but it didn't say anything their documentary didn't already cover.

The American Way of Birth by Jessica Mitford 
* * *
Pretty good. She was funny and easy to read, and went over the issues very clearly.  Pretty outdated, though, since it was written in the early nineties. 

Pushed by Jennifer Block
* * * * 
It gives a great overview of the debates surrounding natural childbirth, leaning heavily on the midwife model of maternity care.  It's a great read that definitely hits on key points and ideas surrounding the support of midwives.  It may be a little outdated, as it came out in 2007, but should still be considered a good and valid read.

Born in the USA by Marsden Wagner
* * * *
Dr. Wagner is an OB-GYN himself, which gives his perspective on the hospital maternity care issue special insight. I agree with his general points in this book. That being said, he is very anti-hospital and pro-non-medicated birth, so take that with a grain of salt. He talks a lot about the [mis]use of a drug called Cytotec, which is rarely used today. [But seriously, if your OB wants to use that on you...DON'T LET THEM.]

The Control of Childbirth by Phyllis Brodsky
* * * *
If you are interest at all in how we got to where we are today with childbirth, or what childbirth used to be like in the 19th century, you should read this book.  Have you ever heard of Twilight Sleep? You will in this book. (Warning: I would not read this book if you are currently pregnant and/or weak stomached.) It does have a slight feminist, "men do us all wrong" slant, but the information is good and presented well.

Brought to Bed: Childbearing in America by Judith Walzer Leavitt
* * * * *
This book is very much the same as above, but written more in textbook style, so it was a little dry at times. I really enjoyed it, though. Another excellent read about the history of childbirth in America.

* * * * * 
This was a clear, approachable, unbiased review of the history of childbirth through the ages. The author did a great job of telling who contributed what to the field, and how that influenced and changed obstetrics today as we know it. She had an anti-medical home birth leaning, but was very fair in acknowledging potential pitfalls of natural childbirth. I would recommend this to a friend interested in the issue. 

Creating Your Birth Plan by Marsden Wagner and Stephanie Gunning 
* * * * *
An excellent and helpful book to read that deals with the practical issues of how to prepare for birth and what issues need to be addressed or responded to. I'm definitely rereading this one when I am pregnant. Very helpful, but also simple to understand and easy to read.

Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke
* * * * *
This is a great book. It talked a lot about how to prepare your mind for childbirth through meditation. It was like the celestial version of hypnobirthing.  Hypnobirthing just seemed cheesy and like they just wanted to get you to buy the book, but this book felt genuine. I think this is the book I will probably read and re-read when I'm pregnant to prepare for labor.

* * * * *
It seems like this book was written both for expectant mothers interested in getting a doula, and women interested in becoming a doula.  It was a very helpful read in terms of knowing what to expect of your doula, and knowing what things you can ask them to help you with. It is also a great read for people who are interested in becoming a doula, since it helps you understand the role and what it will be like. 

Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
* * * * *
Someday, I will tell you more about Ina May Gaskin. For now, all you need to know is that she is considered the most preeminent midwife in the entire world, and her influence has done more for modern midwifery than most. She is the only midwife to have an obstetric maneuver named after her (the Gaskin maneuver, for shoulder dystocia). This book is about her beginnings as a hippie on a commune in Tennessee. (Yes, I've been there.) Don't be surprised when she throws out some crazy words or describes births like some sort of psychadelic drug trip. Get past that and read this book.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
* * * * *
Pretty much anything by Ina May Gaskin, you should read. That's a safe bet. This one is no exception. The woman is amazing.

Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta by Ina May Gaskin
* * * * * 
If there's one book you read about midwifery, let this one be it. She does an excellent job in defense of mothers--why we should listen to them, why we should respect them, and why midwifery should matter to everyone. 

Now that you are armed with an arsenal of informative literature on midwifery, go forth and read!

Have you read any books lately that I don't have on the list? Leave me a note in the comments--I'm always on the prowl for new ones.