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One Doula's Response to The Goddess Myth

Posted on November 2, 2017 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)
One Doula‚??s Response to The Goddess Myth: How A Vision Of Perfect Motherhood Hurts Moms As I stop by my dad's place, he nonchalantly tells me he has a magazine for me. It‚??s Time for October 2017, and what I see is the beautiful mother and baby‚??both naked and skin to skin on the cover. I immediately love it, and I surprised by how far my dad has come. Back in the day, I shocked him when I did a similar photo shoot to normalize the postpartum body and extended breastfeeding. Although he never commented on it, I don‚??t think he loved that the photos were public. Now, he is saving this magazine for me because he thinks I will like this article. I think I have finally won him over. Life is busy, so I take the magazine with me to my kids dental appointments, and I casually decide to flip through this article. With four boys, a free hour to read a magazine doesn‚??t happen too often. I am expecting to love what I read, and it starts off well. It tells of how moms often envision this glamorized version of a natural birth. They read all the popular childbirth books, they take all the childbirth classes, they focus on how this is a normal and natural process and their body is built for birth, and then they are surprised and disappointed when labor and birth doesn‚??t match up to what they expected. It‚??s harder than they thought. It doesn‚??t go as planned, and that is the first lesson of motherhood‚??you can‚??t plan or control it. Research and knowledge is important to birth, and having an idea of what you want is empowering, but you can‚??t control how your body and baby work together in birth. This is when you have to let go of the control, and let life take over. The Goddess Myth affects us all‚??whether we realize it or not. To some extent, we all buy into the idea that we should be doing this perfectly. If we love our children enough, we will have the strength to do the best for them every single time. Any deviation from this is because we have failed at the task of motherhood. This selflessness is utterly exhausting.The survey done by Time magazine had a sample of 913 mothers. Half of all new mothers experienced shame, guilt, or anger‚??mostly due to unexpected complications and a lack of support. As a doula, I see this day in and day out. The obsession with perfect motherhood has created best-selling books, classes, countless apps, over the top monitors, lactivists, and the list goes on and on. We are creating a group of highly anxious mothers because we are all desperately trying not to fail at motherhood. Birth culture is shifting. Childbirth and mothering trends tend to be cyclical, and that is part of what adds to the judgement and pressure that moms feel. In the past, there was a push toward using medication to avoid the pain of childbirth. That was considered true feminism. We can control our reproduction, and we don't need to suffer with birth if we don‚??t want to. The current swing is toward natural birth, breastfeeding, and all things attachment parenting. This constant pendulum swing is a large part of why mothers feel like they are constantly failing‚??because the definition of good motherhood is always changing. The natural birth movement has long considered Ina May Gaskin to be the mother of midwifery. Not only did she open The Farm in Tennessee (1971) where mothers can travel to birth on their terms, but she also changed the entire birth culture. She normalized birth and showed that women didn‚??t need to be saved from the pain of labor. When mothers were left to labor without unnecessary intervention, it was usually quite safe. The next big cultural shift in birth came in the form of documentaries. The Business of Being Born, Pregnant in America, and Orgasmic Birth were all released in 2008. When looking at the stats, home birth and out of hospital birth (OOH) has been on the rise since the popularity of these documentaries. ‚??Unmedicated home birth is being chosen by a growing minority of women. Between 2004 and 2009, giving birth at home has increased 29 percent.‚?? CDC While home birth saw an increase of 29%, out of hospital birth (home and birth centers) saw a much larger rise. According to the CDC, in 2004 .87% of births took place outside of a hospital (birth center or home). The above mentioned documentaries came out in 2008, and they highlighted what they saw as wrong in standard maternal medicine. ¬†In 2011, 1.26% of births took place out of hospital. That‚??s quite the increase. In 2012, 1.36 % of births took place outside of the hospital. ¬†It‚??s no wonder that these documentaries made hospitals nervous. Out of hospital births may be the minority, but the numbers continue to grow. ¬†While I personally love these documentaries, I do understand that when we promote natural birth as best, the only other option is then ‚??unnatural birth‚??‚??and that comes with a feeling of failure for many moms. The two discussions that I want to have regarding The Goddess Myth are their views on the ¬†Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and breastfeeding in general. I was surprised when The Goddess Myth spoke negatively about the the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI). I live in Washington, and we tend to feel very strongly about the BFHI. In fact, many moms choose where to deliver based on if the hospital has achieved this status. The BFHI focuses on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, and these are based in evidence-based practice - not in opinion. BFHI was founded by the WHO and UNICEF in 1991. Their goal is to help women breastfeed exclusively from day one until a baby is six months old or as long as possible. Last year, 20% of American newborns were born in a Baby Friendly hospital, we currently have 460 facilities, and there is one in every state (Carothers, C). According to The Goddess Myth, ‚??If you walk into a BFHI-certified hospital, the signs will be clear: there will be images everywhere of mothers nursing their babies. You won‚??t see any formula, forbidden under BFHI guidelines, which states that human milk is ‚??the normal way‚?? to feed an infant. If a mother wants to formula-feed, this hospital must warn her of the ‚??possible consequences ‚?? to the babies health.‚?? Time magazine specifically addressed the fear that the BFHI would lead to infant death as a result of rooming in. The first thing I looked up was how common Sudden Unexpected Postnatal Collapse (SUPC) is. The research wasn‚??t clear, but it seems to occur somewhere between 2.6:100,000 and 38:100,000, so it is a relatively rare occurrence. According to The Goddess Myth, ‚??the BFHI also strongly recommends rooming-in, the practice of having babies sleep in the hospital room, if not in the bed, with their mom.‚?? This was alarming to a few doctors, and they wrote a scathing viewpoint in JAMA Pediatrics. According to The Goddess Myth, ‚??the worry that rooming in could lead to mothers‚?? accidentally smothering their children and possibly contribute to sudden unexpected postnatal collapse, a rare but often fatal respiratory failure.‚?? I found and read Unintended Consequences of Current Breastfeeding Initiatives ¬†among other opinions, and I found some issues with their argument. To start with, the BFHI never mentions bed sharing. They recommend rooming in with baby, and they recommend uninterrupted skin to skin with mom, but at no time do they suggest going against the American Academy of Pediatrics ¬†(AAP) safe sleep practices. AWHONN recommends skin to skin for at least one hour immediately postpartum and up to two to three hours if the infant is stable. The AAP elaborates on this and recommends skin to skin and breastfeeding as long as someone can keep an eye on mom and baby. If mom is drowsy, the AAP recommends placing the baby in the bedside bassinet. Time magazine jumped the gun by making the faulty correlation between what BFHI actually promotes and what a few Doctors‚?? concerns are. I reviewed stacks of research journals regarding SUPC and BFHI, and I found a few things that didn‚??t line up with the claims made by Time magazine. For starters, the research journals defined SUPC differently. Some research studies considered it SUPC if the baby was greater than 35 weeks gestation, and some said the baby needed to be greater than 37 weeks. The required APGAR scores varies as well. SUPC was also used interchangeably with other terms in some of the the articles, so the numbers aren‚??t clear. According to AWHONN, ‚??there is no agreed upon definition of sudden, unexpected, infant collapse in the literature.‚?? One thing the articles did agree on was that approximately one third of SUPC cases happen in the first two hours of life, one third happen between hours 2-24, and one third happen between day 1-7. They also all agreed that there are policies that can be in place to prevent SUPC‚??and those policies don‚??t include separating a mom and baby. The research journals ¬†encourage safe sleep practices, education for health providers and staff, and parent education regarding SUPC and safe sleep practices. According to Herlenius and Kuhn (2013) there are several ways to lower the risk of SUPC. ¬†Infant Assessment and Reduction of Sudden Unexpected Postnatal Collapse Risk During Skin-to-Skin Contact ¬†advises keeping an eye on the infant and using the RAPP assessment tool. Swift evaluation and position changes would lower the rates of SUPC. They also state that ¬†‚??Sleeping in SSC is not bad, though. Sleeping in SSC provides the infant with a very high quality organized sleep pattern[53] that promotes brain development and maturation[54] and decreases infant stress,[55] unlike sleep that occurs when not in SSC. Thus, when continuous observation of the dyad is possible and, only when continuous observation occurs, sleep in SSC can be allowed so that the neuropromotional benefits of SSC can be experienced.‚?? In summary, the benefits of sleeping in skin to skin may outweigh the risks. What started as a fantastic read quickly started to go downhill for me when we got to breastfeeding. I am a lactation educator, and I know that breast is best in most cases. The health benefits are irrefutable and supported by all major medical journals. The APA feels so strongly about this that in April of 2017 they stated that, ‚??breastfeeding should be considered a public health imperative and not merely a lifestyle choice.‚?? I am torn because I believe in giving accurate information, but I do not ever want a formula-feeding mom to feel judged or not supported. That's why I went into lactation‚??we need more middle of the road lactation educators. More women who will meet a mom where she is, and support her in whatever way she needs. When discussing breastfeeding, Time magazine stated that ¬†‚??there are good reasons to do it; it may help reduce gastrointestinal infections, middle ear infections and some immune-based diseases like allergies and asthma. It‚??s free. It could be a lovely bonding time with your baby. All of which is why more than 80% of American Moms try it.‚?? It is my opinion that Time magazine significantly downplayed the health benefits of breastfeeding, and failed to mention any of the health risks of formula feeding. Scientific fact supports the assertion that breastmilk and formula are not equal in health benefits to infants. The Goddess Myth fits into the current backlash against the natural birth and lactation community. If you're familiar with Dr. Amy Tuteor, you may be aware that she has an anti-home birth agenda. Dr. Amy is the extreme end of the anti-natural agenda. There are many other well intentioned women who are trying to shed light on how hard natural mothering has become. ¬†The book Lactivism by Courtney Jung details how lactation has become a business. Just go to Target and check out of the breastfeeding aisle. It‚??s now as confusing as the bottle feeding aisle, and all this time we‚??ve been told it‚??s free and convenient. Well, that Target aisle doesn't look free and convenient to me. In Blaming Mothers by Linda Fentiman, she discusses how mothers and women are seen as the only person responsible for a child's well being. It's all on us, and it‚??s no wonder we have a massive fear of failure. In ‚??The Birth Of a Mother‚?? (New York Times), Alexandra Sacks writes that ‚??there‚??s also the ideal mother in a woman‚??s mind. She‚??s always cheerful and happy, and always puts her child‚??s needs first. She has few needs of her own. She doesn‚??t make decisions that she regrets. Most women compare themselves to that mother, but they never measure up because she‚??s a fantasy. Some women think that ‚??good enough‚?? (a phrase coined by the pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott) is not acceptable because it sounds like settling. But striving for perfection sets women up to feel shame and guilt.‚?? The Goddess Myth also promoted the Fed Is Best campaign. ¬†Fed Is Best works to raise awareness of feeding options, and I can get on board with that. Breast doesn't work for everyone, and knowing options is empowering. However, they lose me at the fear tactics. Fed Is Best wants to warn people of the risk of ‚??exclusive breastfeeding‚??‚??specifically jaundice and starvation. They are using the mothers greatest fears against her‚??that her inability to breastfeed will harm her baby in some way. Jaundice is considered typical, especially in breastfed babies. It‚??s rarely dangerous, and the more a baby nurses, the faster they pass meconium, effectively lowering jaundice levels. Fed Is Best is choosing a relative small risk, over a definite risk with formula feeding. With regards to starvation, the best indicators of milk transfer are wet and poopy diapers. Parents should keep track of these, and as long as baby is doing as expected, there is no reason to think he or she is starving. Consult with a lactation educator, and have your babies latch checked after birth if you have any concerns. We are all just doing the best we can. We can‚??t be perfect mothers, and struggling to attain that goal is not only harming us, but also our children. ¬†Being ‚??good enough‚?? isn‚??t a cop out - it‚??s real life. It‚??s messy, and that‚??s ok. One of the ways to encourage progress toward acceptance, and toward ending the ‚??mommy wars‚?? is to shed light on real mothering. ¬†Stop putting up the posed perfect photos of motherhood, and instead post photos of real life. ¬†Be honest. ¬†Erase the taboo parts of motherhood - show your postpartum body, your stretch marks, your gymnast breastfeeding toddler, or the non organic chicken nuggets that your kids are eating for the third (or fourth) night in a row. ¬†I guarantee you, another mom has been there. Talk to other moms - without judgment. ¬†Go in with the mindset that they may have decided to do things differently than you, but that isn‚??t a judgment on how you parent. ¬†You just happen to have different styles, and that is ok. As mothers, we need to stop fighting amongst ourselves. ¬†Promoting evidence based medicine isn‚??t a judgement on your choices. ¬†It‚??s simply science. ¬†Mothers have the right to informed decision making, and that means not sugarcoating the risks and benefits. ¬†We need to trust moms to be able to handle this truth, and then to make the decision that is the best for them and their families. Our goal is knowledge and empowering - it is never to shame women. ¬†We do the best we can day in and day out, and as we learn and grow, we do better with each child. The first one is always the guinea pig. Sorry, Maddox. I am a mom to four boys- Maddox, Maguire, Paxton, and Kingston. I'm also a military wife, and we've been married over thirteen years. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and a masters degree in marriage and family therapy with an emphasis on birth trauma, postpartum mood disorders, and attachment. I am a birth doula and a lactation and childbirth educator. I believe that mothers know how to birth and care for their babies, and when they are listened to, respected and supported, they start motherhood ¬†with more self confidence. They know how to mother their babies, and the transition flows smoother when we don't interrupt or overwhelm those innate primal instincts. Sources Carothers, C. (2017). New Horizons in Lactation: Making It Work. Woodinville, WA. Herlenius, E., & Kuhn, P. (2013). Sudden Unexpected Postnatal Collapse of Newborn Infants: A Review of Cases, Definitions, Risks, and Preventive Measures. Translational Stroke Research, 4(2), 236-247. doi:10.1007/s12975-013-0255-4 https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs12975-013-0255-4.pdf Howorth, C. (2017, October 30). The Goddess Myth. Time, 37-42. Immediate and Sustained Skin-to-Skin Contact for the Healthy Term Newborn After Birth: AWHONN Practice Brief Number 5. (2016). Nursing for Womens Health, 20(6), 614-616. doi:10.1016/s1751-4851(16)30331-2 http://www.jognn.org/article/S0884-2175(16)30352-5/pdf. Ludington-Hoe, S. M., & Morgan, K. (2014). Infant Assessment and Reduction of Sudden Unexpected Postnatal Collapse Risk During Skin-to-Skin Contact. Newborn and Infant Nursing Reviews, 14(1), 28-33. doi:10.1053/j.nainr.2013.12.009 https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/822017. MacDorman MF, Mathews TJ, Declercq E. Trends in out-of-hospital births in the ¬†United States, 1990‚??2012. NCHS data brief, no 144. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2014 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db144.pdf QuickStats: Percentage of Births That Were Home Births, by Maternal Race/Ethnicity ‚?? United States, 1990‚??2009*. (2012, January 27). Retrieved October 23, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6103a6.htm Sacks, A. (2017, May 8). The Birth of a Mother. New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/well/family/the-birth-of-a-mother.html Shapiro, S. (2012, May 23). Mommy Wars: The Prequel. New York Times Magazine. Retrieved October 23, 2017, from https://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/05/27/magazine/ina-may-gaskin-and-the-battle-for-at-home-births.html The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from https://www.babyfriendlyusa.org/about-us/baby-friendly-hospital-initiative/the-ten What do health authorities say about breastfeeding past the first year? ‚?Ę KellyMom.com. (2017, January 07). Retrieved October 27, 2017, from https://kellymom.com/ages/after12mo/aap-breastfeeding-past-the-first-year/

The Hurry Up and Wait Game

Posted on November 2, 2017 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)
The Hurry Up and Wait Game/ Rethinking Early Labor This is it! ¬†Mild contractions may be coming in waves every 5-30 minutes. They are lasting 35-40 seconds. They're stronger than the braxton hicks that have become your nightly companion. ¬†Something is definitely happening here. ¬† Excitement. Anxiety. Uncertainty. Relief. Frustrating. Nervousness. Maybe even a little fear. You may feel all of these at the same time. You excitedly call your doula and she says... "it's a great weekend to have a baby! Now get some sleep, and ignore these contractions until you can't ignore then anymore." What? That's it? You've waited 37-42 weeks for this, and now your doula expects you to sleep and ignore it. Hear her out. She has been at this a while, and there's a reason she is asking you to do the near impossible. Early labor is labor, but it's not active labor--yet. How you spend early labor can determine how well you're able to cope with active labor, and even how active labor will progress. If you focus your energy and tools on early labor, and you chase contractions, you will use up your energy while you could be resting and saving your reserves. Save these coping skills for when you can no longer rest through contractions. The second reason we tell you to ignore early labor--a watched pot never boils. Tension and anxiety create adrenaline. Adrenaline keeps contractions from really kicking in. In order for early labor to move toward active labor (5-6cm), a mom needs to feel safe, warm, and supported. Interruptions and new people in the room will disturb her flow and raise her adrenaline. Once active labor starts, the arrival of the birth team, or the transfer into the birth location, isn't as likely to stall or stop labor. Some tips to cope with early labor: ¬†¬†¬† ‚??¬†¬†¬† Avoid telling family and friends. Stay off social media. Once people know you are in labor, the pressure is on. Labor can last hours or days, and constant texts and calls will stress out a laboring mom. ¬†¬†¬† ‚??¬†¬†¬† Rest. Sleep if you can, or rest and watch movies if sleep is difficult. ¬†¬†¬† ‚??¬†¬†¬† Stay home as long as possible. If you're still excited, it's early labor. ¬†¬†¬† ‚??¬†¬†¬† Start labor projects: Save a project for labor. Paint a dresser, ¬†wash the baby clothes, or make some freezer meals. ¬†¬†¬† ‚??¬†¬†¬† Eat and drink freely. Drink water frequently, and eat snack sized meals made of protein and complex carbs. ¬†¬†¬† ‚??¬†¬†¬† Distract yourself. Go to the movies, dinner, get a pedicure or massage, or go on a walk. Take your mind off the contractions. ¬†¬†¬† ‚??¬†¬†¬† Don't feel disappointed. The time it takes to get to active labor has no effect on how long it takes to get to the next phase of labor. If you do nothing extra except rest and relax through early labor, it allows the baby to do the work he needs to do to get into the best position for birth. ¬†Your baby needs to get properly engaged, tuck his chin, and rotate into an optimal position. If mom rests and allows baby to do that early work, active labor and transition will often go much smoother--and mom, birth partner, and support people will be more rested and able to cope with the work of active labor and birth. Quote - ¬†"It's the anticipation of labor starting, but then having to shift your mindset to be patient and let nature take its course" - Lindsay Bartis (expecting her second child this fall). Published in the Nov 2017 issue of Island Birth Association's newsletter.

Isn't my birth partner all I need?

Posted on March 13, 2014 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Yes and no.

Yes, there are dads and birth partners who make phenomenal doulas. They are amazing support, and know exactly what to do and say in labor. My husband is one of these men. He is an outstanding doula, and as such, he almost ended up accidentally catching our last baby at home. He was so calm about the whole labor, that I really thought I was overreacting, and I was convinced that I wasn’t having a fast labor. Good thing he was listening when I talked endlessly about the signs of labor progression and transition. I seriously think he missed his calling, but he has no interest in helping babies enter the world. In fact, he would rather us have a doula present so that the pressure isn’t on him. He wants to witness the birth, and help me through it, while also have an experienced professional there to help out when needed, and to give him the much needed support when things get a little crazy (transition, anyone?).

Birth partners who are instinctually good doulas tend to be few and far between. For the rest of the birth partners out there, these expectations can be a bit unrealistic and very stressful. Of course they want to be everything you need, but they may not know how to accomplish this. They can attend every childbirth prep class there is (and I highly suggest you do this), but labor is unpredictable and at some point, the head knowledge goes, and you just follow your instincts. This is true for the mother, and for the doula. The difference is that the mother is the one experiencing labor and going “primal”, while the doula is specifically trained to see the signs of labor progressing, and understands implicitly what the mother needs. She has seen it countless times, and oftentimes, she has been through it herself.

With a birth partner and a doula, you both get the best of both worlds. You know your partner best, and you probably have a pretty accurate idea of how they will cope with you being in labor. If you know that you want them to be affectionate and that is not naturally their personality, it isn’t fair to either of you to expect them to turn it on during labor. If you suspect that you will need something different that what your partner will be comfortable providing, hire the help. You will both be glad you did.

How much does the doula help if you have a supportive partner present?

Evidence for having a doula in addition to a birth partner and nursing staff-

-31% decrease in the use of pitocin

-28% decrease in the incidence of cesarean birth

-9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief

-14% decrease in the incidence of newborns being admitted into a special care nursery

-34% decrease with the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience.


It has been proven that a doula can be very helpful in labor, but what about the partner who worries that they will be replaced or pushed aside during the birth of the child. As stated in The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, “A good doula enhances rather than detracts from the fathers participation” (Goer pg. 181). As the birth partner, you know the mother best, and you love her and the baby. That makes you irreplaceable. There are still many times when the mother needs more than one labor helper, and that is when the doula can be most helpful to you.

A doula helps the birth partner by:

-Helping to guide what you learned during childbirth preparation classes.

-Give you much needed breaks for food, a short nap, or just to walk around and get a breather. While you may want to stay with mom the entire time, some labors can be long and exhausting. As the birth partner, you will be at your best if you are able to take short breaks as needed, ad keep yourself energized and alert for when things get real/it all hits the fan.

-In addition, the birth doula can bring you beverages, or warm/cold packs for mom, without you having to leave moms side.

-Reassure you of the mother’s well being, especially when things get intense toward the end.

-Interpret the medical terminology so that you can make informed decisions. The birth doula can remind you of your birth preferences if things seem to be going off track, and can ask for alone time so you can discuss the options privately with mom.

-The doula can help you understand what mom is feeling, and interpret the signs of labor progression and normalize the process.

-She can help you participate more fully in labor, while simultaneously taking some of the “coach” pressure off of you.

-If desired, the doula can take photographs or video, so that you are included in these special photos.

(Simkin,P. The Birth Partner pg. 9)

Choosing the right doula for you-

When choosing a doula, make sure that both partners are comfortable with the doula. Both partners should be given the opportunity to meet with the doula, and to ask as many questions as they need. Finding the right doula is about finding the right personality to work well with the couple, so interview a few before making a decision. When you find a doula that works well with you as a couple, they will only add to your birth experience, and you will both walk away feeling like having a doula made the transition to parenthood so much easier on you both.






The more you know........ (book recommendations)

Posted on February 27, 2014 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The more you know going into birth, the more in control you tend to feel during labor and delivery. There are so many birth books out there, and it can get a bit overwhelming. If you know me personally, chances are that I have dropped several of these off for your reading pleasure. Listed below are my top book picks, links to purchase (on amazon), plus a short review of some of my favorites. I will add to this list, and expand on my thoughts as time allows.                                                                                                                                                             

Happy reading...



Active Birth

Author: Janet Balaskas

This book is great at detailing labor and birth positions, and the positive impact of staying active while in labor. It also includes exercises for recovery and relaxation after the birth.

Baby Catcher

Author - Peggy Vincent

This is a midwifes story, and is so very insightful into the life of a birth worker. The birth stories are fantastic, and if you have an interest in this line of work, this book is an excellent read.


The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth

Authors: Williams Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N.

This is a very good book for breaking down the basics of preparation for labor, and how to manage childbirth. The Sears have a great series of books on everything from birth to attachment parenting.

Birth From Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation

Author: Pam England & Rob Horowitz

This has a very unique theory. While practical knowledge is so very important, the most important thing is for a mother to listen to her gut instincts in labor. The more she is in her head; the less she can let go and just labor. This book really digs into how other parts of the world view birth, and how we as a culture need to let the laboring mother just do her thing. For the most part, the less we intervene, the easier the birth will go.

The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions

Author: Penny Simkin

This is a fantastic book for the support person to read. It is written so well, and has everything from the stages of labor, to what the support person can do at each stage.


Childbirth Without Fear

Author: Grantly Dick-Read

 This is a fantastic book that dives into the tension, fear, and pain cycle. The part that sticks with me the most is the example of arm wrestling. If you relax your arm, I can pull it over a million times, and you won't feel much pain at all. We could do this all day long. If you tighten up your muscles, and you try to fight me, you will eventually have a very tired and painful bicep muscle. The uterus works in much the same way. The contractions are the uterus trying to open up your cervix, and if you tense up against the contractions, it will make labor much more painful. The more you can relax, the more productive your contractions will be.


The Doula Book

Authors: Marshall Klaus, John Kennel, MD, & Phyllis Klaus. MFT, LMSW

Experienced Doula: Advanced Skills for Hospital Doulas

Author- Cassaundra Jah. CPM, IBCLC


Gentle Birth Choices

Author: Barbara Harper, R.N.

 Gentle Birth Choices is a fantastic book for birth planning. It digs into the common interventions, and also has great information on water birth and home birth. It really explains the midwifery model of care, and is surely a great read for anyone who is considering using a midwife instead of an OB or family practice doctor.

Homebirth in the Hospital

Author: Stacey Marrie Kerr, M.D.

For anyone who dreams of a homebirth, but needs to birth in a hospital setting, this book is for you. This book will help you achieve a home like experience, while being in a hospital setting. It's a great happy medium for someone who wants to limit the medical side of birth, but wants that sense of security that comes with being in a hospital.

Husband Coached Childbirth

Author: Robert Bradley, M.D.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

Author- Ina May Gaskin

I absolutely adore this book. It is a combination of positive birth stories, and insight from the most well known midwife, Ina May Gaskin. It covers everything from labor positions to the use of pain medications. What I find most helpful are the birth stories. Toward the end of pregnancy, it can be so helpful to the mother to stay focused on having a positive birth experience. Reading positive birth stories can really help alleviate the nervous energy and any lingering anxiety.

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide

Author: Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley, Ann Keppler, Janelle, Durham, & April Bolding.

Spiritual Midwifery

Author - Ina May Gaskin

Ina May Gaskin is just amazing. If you are interested in the history of The Farm, and how Ina May Gaskin became the most well known midwife, this book has it all.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth

Author: Henci Goer

What can I say about this book? It's fantastic. By far, this is my number one recommended book for anyone who likes to know the pros and cons behind routine birth interventions. If you are delivering in a hospital, this book is a must read. If you are delivering out of a hospital, I still really advise reading this. It will clarify what interventions you are ok with, should a transfer need to happen.

Unassisted Childbirth

Author- Laura Kaplan Shanley

This is a very thought provoking book. It is based of the idea that we can create our own birth reality, and that we don't need a doctor or midwife to come in and save us. It pushes the limits of comfort for some, but it is very thought provoking and an interesting perspective. I think this book would be good for a mother who plans to have a home birth, a freestanding birth center birth, or who plans to have an unassisted birth.

The Vaccine Book 

Author: Robert Sears, M.D.

This is a fabulous book.  It goes into the benefits of risks of each vaccine, and what age is safest.  It also details some alternative vaccine schedules, and is very usefull for parents who want to alter the routine vaccine schedule.


The Business of Being Born - Documentary

Although this is a book recommendation list, I must include the documentary, The Business of Being Born.  It is a wealth of knowledge, and really digs into the routine interventions and why you may want to decline them.  It is ninely minutes well spent, and is very helpful when creating a birth plan. I highly recommend watching this documentary with your labor support person.  If they understand why you are declining a routine intervention, they will be more comfortable supporting those decisions. 



If you have any further reading recommendations, please feel free to shoot them my way in the comments. I love expanding my reading material, and am always looking for good birth books. Thank you.