With the summer coming up, it’s great time to indulge in a little educational reading! We asked the Nurturing Birth doula community for their recommendations – here’s just a few of our must-reads
Offering nurturing and loving care to mums throughout pregnancy, birth and after will always be at the top of our list, but to do this we need to stay up-to-date and current in birthing practices, developments and views.
There’s always something new to learn or teach others.
Book One – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
The first on our list is the hugely popular Ina May Gaskin. An inspiring look at childbirth, this book tells you everything you need to have the ‘best birth experience for you’. The idea behind its sentiment is to give women the opportunity to take back the fear of childbirth by regaining confidence in their own bodies.
Within its pages, readers will learn more about what really happens during labour; how to create a safe, comfortable environment for birth in any setting; tips for maximising chances of an unmedicated labour and birth; and the risks of anaesthesia and caesareans – what your doctor doesn’t necessarily tell you. What most doulas seem to love most are the stories – more than half the book devoted to real-life tales of birthing with The Farm Midwives in Tennessee.
Book Two – Grantly Dick-Reid’s Childbirth Without Fear
Grantly Dick-Read’s philosophy is still described as being ‘as fresh and relevant as it was when he originally wrote this book’. An interesting and empathic insight and analysis into the root causes of women’s fears and anxiety about pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
Childbirth Without Fear is one of the most influential birthing books, and definitely a worthwhile read for all parents-to-be, as well as doulas childbirth educators, midwives and obstetricians.
Book Three – Heng Ou’s The First Forty Days
We’re seeing more and more focus on the ‘fourth trimester’ and this book focusses on just that. The First Forty Days revives the lost art of caring for the mother after birth. The modern mother is often pushed too prematurely into a life of routine where they are expected to easily bounce back after giving birth, and where they are often left alone to face the physical and emotional challenges of this new stage of their lives.
Our third book looks at the first 40 days after child birth when it is essential for rest and recovery for the new mother. Based on the first-hand experience of author Heng Ou’s own postpartum period of “confinement”, where she remained home to focus on healing and bonding with her baby.
This book looks at connection, nourishment, and guidance and includes 60 simple recipes to help heal, build strength and help lactation. This warm and encouraging guide offers advice on arranging a system of help during the postpartum period, navigating relationship challenges, and honouring the significance of pregnancy and birth. We love this nurturing outlook.
The human rights in childbirth movement is gathering pace with doulas activists, midwives, mothers, doctors and lawyers all coming together to offer right-based solutions to the problems in maternity care. This book looks at our human rights and how they apply to pregnancy and birth. What happens when dignity is absent? And how are innovators and educators using human rights principles to revolutionise care for the next generation of women. Rebecca is a Nurturing Birth doula, and started the Birthrights Charity, so we love seeing how well she is doing in print!
Book Five – Milli Hill’s The Positive Birth Book
We all have different ideas relating to what sort of birth we want. The Positive Birth Book has been written to help women maximise their chances of getting it. It’s a refreshing, warm and witty guide to pregnancy, birth, the early weeks and guaranteed to make you giggle.
As well as wit, it’s also packed with vital information on everything from building the ultimate birth plan, to your choices and rights in the birth room; from optimal cord clamping, to seeding the microbiome; from the inside track on breastfeeding, to woman-centred caesarean.
The Positive Birth Book shows you how to have the best possible birth, regardless of where and what you choose. Read real accounts from new mums on their own experiences and the truth about what giving birth really feels like.
Book Six – Amy Brown’s The Positive Breastfeeding Book: Everything you need to feed your baby with confidence
This is a must read for both new and soon-to-be-mums, as well as for doulas and other birth workers. Its straight talking, fact and science-based, with reassuring advice from fellow mums and experienced breastfeeding professionals.
Everyone is an expert on everything when you have a baby, and topics such as breastfeeding leads to probably the most opinions, so it’s very easy to become overwhelmed and confused by conflicting advice. The Positive Breastfeeding Book cuts through the anecdotes, giving you clear, no-judgement, non-preachy, evidence-based information to help you signpost and support each mother and her baby.
It’s honest and doesn’t promise it will be easy but it will empower and encourage its readers.
Book Seven – Naomi Kemeny’s Nurturing New Families
The last in our recommendations, is ‘Nurturing New Families’ written by Naomi Kemeny, who has a wealth of experience as a midwife, children’s nurse and postnatal doula.
Supporting a family in the days and weeks after a baby is born is an important part of the birth experience and can have a massive impact on mum. A new mum needs the chance to recover her strength and to respond to her baby’s needs, the care of a postnatal doula, friend or family member can be invaluable. In this guide Naomi draws on her wealth of experience to explain in detail how to ‘mother the mother’ – by listening to what she needs and supporting her as she adapts to her new role. This is an insightful book for those working or wanting to work as a postnatal doula.
Have you read any of the above? Let us know what you found most helpful, or share your favourite book if it hasn’t been featured. Contact us or share on Facebook or Twitter.
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