Nursing Birth

One Labor & Delivery Nurse’s View From the Inside

Birth Resources EVERY Woman Should Know About April 23, 2009

I was at my local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) meeting yesterday and the theme for the night was “Birth Stories.”  Although I have never had a cesarean section, attending the local ICAN meetings is, for me, a way to get together and work with other people in the birth advocacy community and meet pregnant moms who are seeking out more information regarding their birth choices.  Anyways, throughout the meeting last night I found myself often referring to different books that I have read that I feel are great resources for pregnant moms.  Everyone else seemed to jump on the bandwagon and by the end of the night, I think all the gestating members of the group had heads that were spinning with tons of different information!


This meeting inspired me to put together a list of books, websites, and movies that I have personally read or watched that I feel are “must see/must reads” for any woman who is trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant or newly postpartum.  Whether you are planning a homebirth birth with a direct entry midwife or wishing you could have your OBGYN call in your epidural before even getting to the hospital, these resources are something to seriously consider.


It is important to note that this is an abbreviated list.  I have so many amazing books on pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding that it’s kind of ridiculous.  But I made sure to keep this list brief for a reason; I don’t want to scare anyone away!  I don’t want anyone to think “Oh jeeze, there are just too many things on this list.  I am too overwhelmed to read any of them!”  That being said, if there is any book, movie, website, etc that you found or are finding to be very helpful with your past or current pregnancies, I’d love to hear about it!!!




*Best Childbirth Preparation Book*

Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England & Rob Horowitz


*Best “How To” Guide to Helping a Woman Through Childbirth*

The Birth Partner, Third Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions  by Penny Simkin


*Most Inspiring/Positive/Empowering “What To Expect” Book*

            Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth  by Ina May Gaskin


*Best Practical Guide to Breastfeeding*

            So That’s What They’re for: Breastfeeding Basics by Janet Tamaro


*Best “Research that Doesn’t Read Like Research” Book*

            The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer





* Best Hard Look at the Current State of Maternity Care in America

The Business of Being Born (2007)  Directed by Abby Epstein, Produced by Ricki Lake


*Most Personal Documentary About Being Pregnant In America

Pregnant in America: A Nation’s Miscarriage (2008)  Directed by Steve Buonagurio





* ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network)

– ICAN’s mission is to prevent unnecessary cesareans through education, to provide support for cesarean recovery, and to promote VBAC.


* Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS)

– CIMS is a coalition of individuals and national organizations with concern for the care and well-being of mothers, babies, and families. Their mission is to promote a wellness model of maternity care that will improve birth outcomes and substantially reduce costs.

– CIMS is the founder of the The Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative  and The Birth Survey


* Citizens for Midwifery

– Citizens for Midwifery (CfM) is a non-profit, volunteer, grassroots organization. Founded by several mothers in 1996, it is the only national consumer-based group promoting the Midwives Model of Care.

– CfM can help you learn about the Midwives Model of Care, find a midwife in your area, and connect with resources about birth and midwifery


* La Leche League International (LLLI)

– La Leche League International strives to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.


* BirthNetwork National (BNN)

– BNN is is leading a grassroots movement based on the belief that birth can profoundly affect our physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

– BNN has local chapters and holds monthly meetings all around the country!

– BNN believes that:

· Birth is a normal, healthy process, not an illness or disease.

· Empowering births can take place in birth centers, hospitals and homes.

· Women are entitled to complete and accurate information on their full range of options for pregnancy, birth, post-partum and breastfeeding.

· Women have a right to make health care decisions for themselves and their babies. That right includes Informed Consent as well as Informed Refusal.



So now it’s your turn!  What books or other resources did you find helpful when preparing for pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum?  We all want to know J!


58 Responses to “Birth Resources EVERY Woman Should Know About”

  1. BirthingBeautifulIdeas Says:

    Excellent list!!!

    I’d also add Childbirth Connection’s website ( as a great resource for pregnant moms. They have a great section on VBAC and Repeat Cesarean, and they offer some *fantastic* resources on birth rights, cesarean section, and evidence-based maternity case.

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Thanks BirthingBeautifulIdeas!! I forgot about them. Childbirth Connection has the list of rights of pregnant mothers, a great resource!

  2. Arwen Says:

    My favorites:

    For preganncy:
    For labor: Juju Sundin’s Birth Skills
    For breastfeeding: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Arwen, I have never heard of Juju Sundin’s Birth Skills….hmmm…I’ll have to look into that one! 🙂 I have the other book the La Leche League puts out called “The Breastfeeding Answer Book”. Its more for professionals whereas “The Womanly Art” is more for moms. I love them both!! Great suggestions!!

  3. Mama Kalila Says:

    I just finished Hypnobirthing, The Mongan Method and absolutely loved it… and there’s a book I want to get called “Ask a Midwife”, I really wish we’d gotten it before instead of What to Expect…

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Mama Kalila, oh I wish “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and “A Baby Story” on TV could just be banished! Hahaha! I have heard so much about Hypnobirthing lately I have GOT to learn more about it! My friend had a very amazing VBAC water birth using hypnobirthing and I will be sure to check out that book!! Thanks again!

  4. Elizabeth Says:

    I think “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” is awesome! So helpful and informative.

    I’m also a big fan of “Pushed” by Jennifer Block and her blog.

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Elizabeth, thanks for the suggestions!! I just ordered “Pushed” from amazon because I have heard so many good things about it. I also just ordered “Immaculate Deception II” by Suzanne Arms. I will have to check out “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way”! Thanks again!

  5. I haven’t read nearly as extensively on these subjects as you have, but I really like Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Wechsler. It made me better aware of my body as I was preparing for pregnancy.

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Laura Williams, thank you for the suggestion. As an L&D nurse, I only get to work with patients that are 20 weeks or more along, therefore, already pregnant! I appreciate your suggestion because I am certainly not well read on fertility stuff! I will have to check that book out 🙂 Thanks again!

  6. Mama Kalila Says:

    I actually thought about making that same suggestion Laura. I haven’t read it yet, but only because I can’t justify buying it when I already know how to chart… I’ve looked through it though and it looks wonderful. I wasn’t sure about suggesting one for “before” (or after) pregnancy though lol. “

  7. Alev Says:

    Not really a book, but I loved my Hypnobabies home study childbirth course – in my opinion, Mongan’s hypnobirthing book gives a great overview of why you should use hypnosis for childbirth, but the hypnobabies course gives the actual tools to put the theory into practice.

    Thanks for the breastfeeding book recommendation! I have The Womanly Art, but wanted another one to add to the collection… 🙂

  8. Dollie Says:

    thanks for your blog I have wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse for over 5 years now and 3 kids later I am going to back to school in nursing to make it happen when I am struggling to study I just read your blog and feel excited about studying to get to there… thanks…

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Dollie, ROCK ON SISTER!! I am so happy for you that you are in nursing school. Hang in there! Although I am always so grateful that I decided to go to nursing school and I had some amazing experiences and met some amazing people, I would NEVER do it all over again. One time is enough! Intense isnt even strong enough! Hahaha! So just know that there is a nurse out there rooting for you! I hope you keep reading!

  9. enjoybirth Says:

    Hypnobabies is a great hypnosis for childbirth program! I used it with my last birth and it helped me overcome my fears, trust in my body and enjoy my unmedicated birth. You can see my birth video on You Tube.

  10. Rose Says:

    another natural minded labor and delivery nurse here.

    I also enjoy “Pushed: The painful truth about childbirth and modern maternity care” by Jennifer Block.
    a very informative book about what doctors and hospitals are doing (inductions, unncessary c/sections for “macrosomia”, denying vbac’s), insurance companies, homebirth midwives, unassisted birth, etc. Very, very good read.
    Very good for any pregnant women or birth advocate.

    next is “baby catcher-chronicles of a modern midwife” by peggy vincent

    chronicles her becoming a nurse, a labor and delivery nurse, a homebirth midwife, many homebirth and hospital birth stories, and more. Its a very good read, very interesting birth stories. Mostly good positive ones, a few with not good outcomes. Its not a research book or anything like that, but still very good for people who are birth advocates, pregnant, etc.

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Rose, thanks so much for the suggestions!! I have heard of both of those books and I recently ordered “Pushed” from Amazon! I have also heard about “Baby Catcher” and your description makes me want to read it! Thanks again!

  11. Marissa Says:

    my favorite for a first-time mom-to-be so far is “The Birth Book” by William and Martha Sears. It has complete information about all the basics of preparing for birth, birth, and immediately after birth, and is a great place to start.

  12. Amy Romano Says:

    This is a great list and I think these are the perfect picks in every category. I second the recommendation made in the comments for Pushed by Jennifer Block and Childbirth Connection’s web site.

    I work for Lamaze International and we launched a weekly email for pregnant women last year. It’s like the emails sent by some of the big commercial pregnancy sites, but ours is designed to be evidence-based and build women’s confidence in the normal processes of labor and birth. It’s also WHO-code compliant (no formula/bottle/nipple advertising, etc.). Here’s the link.


    • nursingbirth Says:

      Amy Romano, WOW! thanks for posting about such a great resource!! I am going to forward this to my local ICAN and BirthNetwork Chapter leaders so that they can get the word out to the pregnant moms in the group!

  13. Joy Says:

    I actually haven’t ever read BIRTH books but I have read pregnancy books (I hate “What to Expect…” btw! I can’t understand how so many women love that scary book). So I’m going to check some of these suggestions out (“Pushed”, “Baby Catcher”, Ina May’s book, etc.). And I really want to watch The Business of Being Born so I may do that tonight!

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Joy, I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE you to watch BOBB! When you do please come back and tell me what you think!!!

  14. maria Says:

    All right, here my list. Hi, just newly following your blog 🙂
    Its long, and there are some unassisted birth books on this list, but I think even those can be helpful when reading about birth. My apologies for the repeats.

    Birth Reborn, by Michel Odent (anything by Michel Odent, a French OB who helped
    to get that country into the midwifery model of care.)

    The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer (I love Henci, she is doing phenomenal work)

    Heart and Hands by Elizabeth Davis

    Energetic Pregnancy, by Elizabeth Davis

    Birthing From Within, by Pam England and Rob Horowitz

    Mind Over Labor, by Carl Jones

    Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth Ina May Gaskin (anything by Ina May Gaskin, a Tennessee-based midwife who delivers at the Farm, even though she is very hands on.)

    Spriritual Midwifery, Ina May Gaskin

    Unassisted Homebirth An Act of Love, by Lynn M. Griesemer

    Unassisted Childbirth, by Laura Kaplan Shanley

    This Sacred Life by Zuki Abbott

    The Birth Book, by the Sears

    Active Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally, by Janet Balaskas

    Childbirth Without Fear, by Grantly Dick-Read

    Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, by Susan McCutcheon

    HypnoBirthing The Mongan Method, by Marie F. Mongan

    Special Delivery, by Rahima Baldwin

    The Power of Pleasurable Childbirth, By Laurie Morgan

    The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Birth, by Sheila Kitzinger

    The Labor Progress Handbook, by Penny Simkin and Ruth Ancheta

    Emergency Childbirth: A Manual, by Gregory J. White, M.D.

    Birthing Normally, by Gayle Peterson

    Transformation through Birth, ?

    Sacred Birthing, Birthing a New Humanity, by Sunni Karrl

  15. maria Says:

    My favorite movie, here the trailer

    Birth as we know it.

    Clear Road to Birth.

  16. maria Says:

    I think Henci Goer is a must for all moms 🙂
    Depending on what kind of birth a woman is looking into, I can share many websites of interest.

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Maria, I have never heard of that movie!! I hope it is on Netflix! If not, I’ll just have to get it somehow! Thanks for the suggestions!

  17. pinky Says:

    Henci Goer? I have to wash my eyes out now! You lost me on that one. I did however, like Tina Cassidy’s book. I thought it was fair and accurate. Many books have an agenda, which pisses me off to no end. How long have you been in L&D?

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Pinky, Ive been a nurse for three years, in L&D for 2 years. I am curious to why you would ask that question because I have never tried to pretend I am somebody I am not and I feel that whenever someone writes a dissenting comment on my blog, they often ask “how long I have been a nurse for” as if that should somehow discredit all of my experiences and opinions. The fact of the matter is that while experience is an incredibly invaluable resource to have as a nurse and educator, it is NOT all that is imporant. Education, open-mindedness, drive, passion, committment, compassion, intelligence, and desire to always keep learning as well as MANY other things play a BIG role too. I value all those who have come before me especially those who have been in the business for many many years, including other nurses, doctors, midwives, doulas, childbirth educators, etc. I also value each mother I work with knowing that they have just as much to teach me as I have to teach them. I also value anyone in my life that has a different opinion than I do, in any area, because I belive we can learn just as much about the world and ourselves from our friends as well as our dissentors. But I have to be honest, valuing only experience over all the other qualities that make up a great nurse is part of the reason why we have a nursing shortage….Nurses eat their young!

      You are not alone as an RN who does not like Henci Goer as I have seen many other people in healthcare scoff at her book. But in my opinion she backs up everything she writes about with research, gives pros & cons for each intervention, and from the very beginning of her book she is very honest about the fact that she has an opinion and is not afraid to say it. It’s HER book after all. You may feel her book is pushing her own agenda but there are many OBGYNs, nurses, and midwives who do the same to patients every day in this country, without the evidenced based research to support it!

      On page 10 of “Thinking Woman’s Guide” she writes, “The things you are about to read may well worry or distress you or even make you angry. I have not tried to be needlessly alarming, but I haven’t pulled any punches either. This book was written on the same principle as sex education: namely, I would prefer you to be uncomfortable rather than ignorant. My goal is for you never to have cause to say “‘I didn’t know that was an option’ or ‘I never would have agreed if I had known that could happen.’ You can, of course, also leave all or most of your decisions up to your caregiver. That is a perfectly valid choice. The important thing is that it be a concious choice, not one you felt constrained to make.”

      All in all I appreciate everyone’s opinion who comments on my blog and I am humbled that anyone is even reading my words. I am grateful for all that I learn from all of my readers and I hope you will continue reading.

  18. Amy Romano!!! You caught my baby Willem!!!

    I can’t believe I found you so randomly on this blogosphere!!

    I learned so much through Henci Goer’s book. I also read Obstetric Myth vs Research Realities.

    • nursingbirth Says:

      I gotta get my hands on “Obstetric Myths vs. Research Realities”. Do you think that it is different from Henci Goer’s book? Like, if you have read her book you would still get something out of OMVRR?

  19. Amy Romano Says:

    Michael! Wow, how funny to find you in the comments stream of a blog! This is such a great blog (thank you NursingBirth!) and I’m so happy to have found it. I hope you and the boys are doing great! xoxo

  20. Oh and two other Breastfeeding resources came to mind just now.

    the book Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy

    it’s full of over 80 full page color and black & white beautiful photographs. so if you’re like me, and you learn better from seeing rather than reading this book is a great resource.

    and the website gives videos of “good latches” and what to look for when breastfeeding. How to tell if baby is suckling, or actually drinking… proper positioning, all the wonderful things new moms need to learn! I highly recommend it!

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Mommy Michael, thanks for the suggestions!! I think any book with tons of pictures would be really helpful for those of us that are visual learners!! (I dont even buy a cookbook unless it has pictures on almost every page! Haha!)

  21. Joanna Says:

    “Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Should be Fixed to put Women and Children First” by Marsden Wagner

    “Spiritual Midwifery” by Ina May Gaskin

    Ditto on Hypnobabies, I used it with my last birth and LOVED it! There is a Yahoo Hypnobabies Support Group that is fantastic.

    I have a few more, but I’ll have to check my library at home to remember the titles.

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Joanna, both those books are personal favorites of mine 🙂 I can honestly say that reading Spiritual Midwifery and watching the Business of Being Born pretty much changed my life, both personally and professionally! Thanks for the hypnobabies support group info. I hope this site helps to spread the word about it!!

  22. Joanna Says:

    Re: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” by Henci Goer. This book is, in my opinion, the most important book that EVERY pregnant woman should read, no matter what kind of birth you are planning. She backs up everything in the book with research. I was grateful to have someone willing to put it all out there, in once place, and in a concise form!

  23. maria Says:

    I agree, too, Joanna, for the simple fact that it makes women, well, think, whether they agree or not in the end.

    And you’re welcome, Nursingbirth. 🙂

  24. Obstetric Myth Vs Research Realities is by Henci Goer as well!

    from the website
    “Anyone working to improve the childbearing experience and help women avoid unnecessary intervention has encountered numerous “obstetric myths” or “old doctors’ tales.” And while the evidence in the medical literature may be solidly, often unequivocably, against whatever “the doctor said,” without access to that evidence, the pregnant woman is quite reasonably going to follow her doctor’s recommendations.

    This book is an attempt to make the medical literature on a variety of key obstetric issues accessible to people who lack the time, expertise, access, or proximity to a medical library to research concerns on their own. Obstetric Myths Versus Research Realities is a compact reference, scholarly yet understandable to people without medical training, and organized so that readers can easily find the information they want. “

  25. Amy Romano Says:

    It’s great to see the conversation (and debate) about Henci Goer’s books. I’m the co-author for the next edition of Obstetric Myths versus Research Realities with Henci. I think both those who loved and those who hated Ob Myths 1 will be interested to know that every word of the book has been rewritten and there are new chapters that didn’t exist in the last edition. A lot has changed in the obstetric literature in the decade plus since OB Myths was published, including the nature of medical evidence itself. We’re really proud of the work we’ve done. So hopefully you’ll all be interested in the book when it is published (next year.)

    In the meantime, Henci has a forum where she takes questions about obstetric practices on the Lamaze web site at I also just launched a blog at Lamaze ( that is about interpreting the OB literature. Henci will be guest posting there next week!

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Amy Romano, thanks so much for posting all that great info. I can’t wait till the book comes out next year! And I will definitely check out your website. Thanks!

  26. Amy I have to admit, I have loved you (my midwives) from the beginning with Roan’s pregnancy, and I tell everyone about you.

    However, I just recently found the Birth and Beyond website (is it new?) and reading the About the Midwives page just made me even more confident and trusting in your ability to be my and my babies lifeguards during labor and birth.

    I’m quite in awe at the amazing work y’all do, not just in our lives through the wonderful, long prenatal visits and at the birth… but all the work y’all do in helping women period! Whether at hartford hospital, or yale, or through your research and new book.

    You’re amazing, strong women and you inspire me to do more.

    (hence another reason I LOVE to read nursing/midwifery blogs… you remind me of the way birth should be… as if I could ever forget. but it’s easy to get down trodden with all the negativity you see in a hospital.)

  27. tarotpixie Says:

    Just found your blog and ready every fabulous word!

  28. Joy Says:

    Well I didn’t watch Business of Being Born! I thought what you posted was a link to the actual video. LOL! I’ll have to buy it and watch it soon!

  29. birthjunky Says:

    Hi all – I just wanted to add Choices in Childbirth as another excellent resource ( They have informative “Guides to a Healthy Birth”. So far, there is a guide for Philly and NYC and a National Guide. I think its a great resource for expectant moms!

    Nursingbirth – thanks for this blog – it’s fantastic!

  30. Joanna Says:

    Amy: Thanks for letting us know the book is being updated. I can’t wait to check it out!

    Two more: “Hard Labor” by Susan Diamond -She was a L&D nurse who left the profession because she got so disillushioned. Older, but a wonderful read.

    Jennifer Block (who wrote “Pushed”) also has a website:

    • nursingbirth Says:

      Joanna, I have heard of Jennifer Block’s website (great suggestion by the way!!) but have never heard of the book “Hard Labor”. I have got to check that out!!! Thanks again!

  31. jenny Says:

    I found your blog through Birthing Beautiful Idea’s blog and I love it! Thanks for the book suggestions! My brother just called to tell me they are pregnant with their first child and I went straight to your list to get them a “congrats, you are pregnant” gift!

    • nursingbirth Says:

      jenny, wow I am so pumped you decided to get them such a practical, useful, and AWESOME gift…the GIFT of Knowledge! 🙂 (So much more useful than a yet another cutie baby outfit haha!) LOVE IT!

  32. Jenny Says:

    My husband will laugh when I tell him that soneone referred to me as practical when it comes to babies! LOL! 🙂

  33. […] pregnancy, your labor, your birth, and your baby by doing your own research!!  (Check out my post: Birth Resources EVERY Woman Should Know About).   Comments […]

  34. […] Nursing Birth put together a list of “Resources Every Woman Should Know About“ […]

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