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Top 12 Childbirth Education Books


Updated October 11, 2012

Childbirth educators and doulas have lots of reading to get certified and stay abreast of current medical literature. Here are some of my handy references I keep on my book shelf to help me answer tough questions and point me in the right direction.

1. Optimal Care in Childbirth

Optimal Care in Childbirth
Photo © Amy Romano & Henci Goer
Henci Goer and Amy Romano, CNM provide you with details on all the hot issues in childbirth today backed with page after page of gloriously detailed research.
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2. Medications and Mother's Milk

Medications and Mother's Milk
Photo © Price Grabber
Dr. Thomas Hale's classic book for drug references for the breastfeeding mother. This book is updated every two years. It is a must for anyone who counsels nursing mothers. It also makes a great gift for a lactation consultant or pediatrician for a special thank you.
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3. Breastfeeding Answer Book

This book is a great resource to help you with common and not so common breastfeeding questions. It is an amazing primer for the novice breastfeeding counselor, childbirth educator or doula. It's easily tabbed to help you find the information that you need quickly. It also includes information on multiples, special needs babies and premature infants.
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4. The Labor Progress Handbook

The Labor Progress Handbook
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Penny Simkin and Ruth Ancheta have done an amazing job writing down all the helpful hints they've gathered through research and practical experience. Handy charts and references make this a great addition your birth bag as a doula or class reference for the childbirth educator. Third Edition
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5. Birth as an American Rite of Passage

Robbie Davis-Floyd is an anthropologist, so this book is less about medicine and more about the culture of birth. A great read for historical and cultural perspective for every childbirth educator and doula. A fascinating read.
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6. A Good Birth, A Safe Birth

A wonderful book on the health and safety of pregnant women. It is a book designed for the consumer, but it will make you want to stand up and take action even as an advocate for pregnant women and their families. Some doula and childbirth education certification requirements still have this book listed for a good reason.
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7. Birthing From Within

Another book designed for the consumer by midwife, Pam England. A great supplement to any childbirth educators resource library. It also has lots of practical ideas for exploring feelings and emotions of pregnancy, labor and postpartum in your classes. An easy way to add that extra dimension to your childbirth class.
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8. Obstetric Myths Versus Research Realities

Henci Goer writes an amazing book comparing current cultural thinking on hot obstetric topics like VBAC, home birth, medications and more with the actual research, showing how what the research says is not what we're practicing. A great guide to research.
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9. What if I have a c-section?

While geared towards the consumer, this book is a handy, middle-of-the-road approach to discussing cesarean birth with your couples or clients.
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10. Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy

A very beautiful book that has few words but lovely photos of nursing mothers as it talks about the basics of breastfeeding and how to enjoy the experience. It's very much like a coffee table book for breastfeeding.

11. Brought to Earth by Birth

Brought to Earth by Birth - Harriette Hartigan
Photo (c) MotherBaby Press
Brought to Earth by Birth is an amazing book. Not only is photographs and quotes, but it's a story that no reality TV show could capture. This amazing book would make a great baby shower present or thank you gift for the doctors, midwives and doulas in your life.

12. The Official Lamaze Guide

This book is an instant classic! With great advice, humor and birth stories, Lothian and DeVires 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 you doctor or midwife and most importantly how to trust your body.
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