A doula approved reading list!

There are so many books out there about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and breastfeeding. One of my favorites that I’ve been recommending to clients lately is Labyrinth of Birth by Pam England. Different than a maze, a labyrinth has a single path to the center with only one entrance and no dead ends. This is a helpful metaphor when people feel lost or that they aren’t progressing. The birthing person can trust that they are moving closer to their end goal because there is only one direction to go: forward. England says, “Just when you think you’ve hit a wall in labor, you will turn a corner and the path will lead you in a new direction. The Labyrinth symbol reminds us that we can’t predict or plan the absolute course of life or labor.”

England also talks about expecting the unexpected. A labyrinth may only have one path, but there are an unknown number of twists and turns once you’re in it, and it’s impossible to know how close you are to the center. “Unpredictable, sudden changes in direction in the labyrinth parallel unexpected, unwished-for surprises that are part of every labor and postpartum…From time to time, like most mothers, you will feel “lost” in labor because when you are in labor, you can’t see how far you’ve come, or how close you are to giving birth.”

If you’re looking for a book to help you tackle the emotional parts of your labor and can complement your nuts and bolts birth books, go check out Labyrinth of Birth! Since this book has been so helpful to my clients, I decided to ask my fellow doulas here at NYC Birth Village about their favorite book recommendations and they delivered! As if your pregnancy reading list needed to be longer…

1. Natural Hospital Birth by Cynthia Gabriel

“I think it does a great job of providing both big picture and practical advice for achieving an unmedicated birth in a hospital. It also has one of my favorite outlines for developing birth preferences, including tackling the fear of getting attached or disappointed when things don’t go as “planned”. – Sierra

“I of course read it from the recommendation of Karla and Narchi when I was pregnant with Carter and I always recommend it to my pregnant friends. It really does provide comfort for those who overall feel safe in a hospital but want to achieve a natural birth and be well informed of their options.” – Jamie

2. Like a Mother by Angela Garbes

“I think that this kind of read can be extremely beneficial as someone embarks in the process of pregnancy and motherhood, where the current culture is still full of misconceptions and outdated assumptions. People can approach this life altering time with more self-love, compassion and trust, and less fear, shame and guilt.” – Narchi

3. A Good Birth, A Safe Birth by Diana Korte

“I think this book is really easy to read and understand and helps guide about all of the choices that come along with birth!” – Erica

4. The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin

“It explains every aspect of birth in a very simple way. So while it’s a lot of content, it’s very easy to understand and it’s a great book to go back to to reference certain aspects of interest.” – Jamie

5. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

“What I like about it is not so much the practical tips (though invaluable), but how it gives a nice balance of personal birth stories in a way that the reader can go through in their own way, on their own time and via their own terms (I.e., they can be read out of order, or you can choose to just scroll a few, or read all of them or just a couple at a time…), yet regardless it serves the purpose of showing the variety of unpredictable sets of circumstances that occur and the different ways women view them (often alongside the woman’s initial expectations).” – Kim

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