3 Amazing Books to Prepare You for a Natural Childbirth

As our first baby’s due date gets closer, childbirth has been on my mind more and more. My husband and I took a childbirth class a few weeks ago, and I’ve been doing reading and exercises to get ready for the big day.

For a lot of women – myself included – childbirth seems incredibly scary. We hear horror stories from friends and family, and the births depicted on TV and in movies are often long and painful. The fear surrounding birth can really start to color your pregnancy, especially as you get into that third trimester. This is happening, and it’s a little bit terrifying!

With those images in mind, the idea of birthing without drugs seems a little bit crazy, but you do have to wonder: why are humans the only animals for whom birthing is a huge ordeal? And why is birth the only bodily function that we assume is somehow broken?

One of the main points that I picked up in childbirth classes and from reading some amazing books on natural childbirth methods is that birth doesn’t have to be scary, and it doesn’t have to be painful.

What I keep reading and hearing, as I learn more about natural childbirth, is that there are a few main keys to a successful natural birth:

  • Re-conditioning yourself. There is a long history of how birthing got to where it is today, which I won’t get into. To make a thousands-of-years-long story short: birth is a natural process, and misogyny and certain medical techniques (most of which doctors don’t use anymore) have turned it into something scary and painful. You have to re-learn what birth is about and learn to trust your body.
  • Learning natural birthing techniques. From different positions that are good for you and your baby to breathing and relaxation, this is critical to a natural birth.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Those relaxation techniques that you read about in the books below and learn in natural childbirth classes wont’ stick unless you practice them. In your third trimester, it’s a good idea to practice your breathing, meditation, and affirmations daily or at least 3-4 times a week.
  • Having a knowledgeable birthing partner. This could be your significant other, your mom, your sibling, or a close friend, but having someone who you trust to support you is key. This person will answer questions from doctors and nurses and help you reach and remain in the relaxed state that makes a natural birth go most smoothly.

So, where is a natural birthing mother-to-be to start? The three books on the next page have really helped me get over my fear of labor and feel prepared and in control.

natural childbirth - happy mom and baby

What I like about the books below is that not only do they help you face and dismiss your fears about childbirth, but they are also very non-judgmental. The authors explain the benefits of avoiding medical interventions – from pitocin to foreceps to Cesarean birth – but they also allow that there are circumstances where these things can be helpful, like if your health or your baby’s health are in danger. In the end, it’s about making birth a positive experience for you and your baby that’s free from judgement. It’s your birth.

If natural childbirth is something you’re considering, or really even if you’re not sure that’s your thing, but the idea of childbirth scares you, I can’t recommend these books enough!

1. Birthing from Within

This was the first book that I read, and it was so helpful! It explains a lot of the history that I alluded to, and it talks you through how to prepare yourself physically and mentally for your birthing day. Birthing from Within talks you through forgetting that conditioning that makes childbirth – something so natural and so normal – seem like a scary experience that you can’t cope with without drugs.

2. Hypnobirthing

There are a few different Hypnobirthing methods out there, and Hypnobabies is another self-hypnosis method. The book that I read was The Marie Mongan Method, and it is incredibly empowering! There’s some history of childbirth through the ages, and then the book moves on to talk about reframing the birthing process in a positive way to help you alleviate your fears and trust your body. Part of that process is learning relaxation techniques and practicing “birth affirmations,” which might feel a little bit cheesy at first but really can help you feel more confident in your body’s ability to do this thing.

Make sure you get a copy of the book that comes with the CD. The material on the CD is also in the book, but having the music to relax to and having her talk you through the different relaxation methods has made a huge difference for me.

Birthing from Within and Hypnobirthing have a lot of overlapping information, so it’s really about which one seems like the best fit for you. You might hit the book store or the library and leaf through both to see which book feels more your speed.

3. The Birth Partner

If your significant other – or whoever is going to be with your during your birth – is uneasy about the big day, this book is a huge help. The Birth Partner helps prepare your birthing partner to support you and help you have a positive experience.

For your birth partner, the fears are a little bit different, right? He or she isn’t afraid of being in pain but may be afraid of seeing you in pain or that (s)he won’t be able to give you the support you need to have the natural birth that you want. Knowledge is power, and The Birth Partner helps educate him or her about what to expect and techniques to handle different situations.

For you, knowing that your companion in the birthing room is knowledgeable and capable is definitely a soothing influence.

I’d love to hear from the other moms out there! Are you learning natural childbirth techniques? Are there books or CDs that helped you get ready for your birth? I hope you’ll share your suggestions and experiences in the comments!

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Angela B.
Angela B.2 years ago

Except for the first one, I had all 7 of my kids naturally. I was scared for all of them, despite knowing what was ahead. I think fear is a good thing...it keeps us on our toes when things get rough. One was breach but still presented few problems....thank goodness. The thing I've noticed about all of these births is that the pain became a distant memory almost instantly!

Debrah Roemisch
Debrah Roemisch2 years ago

i don't know what happened to my first comment! I read Ina May Gaskins Spiritual Midwifery in 1978 when I was pregnant with my first--had all 3 of my girls at home. It is painful--I would NOT call the pain rushes as Ina May did! But I have had much worse pain--infected wisdom tooth, shoulder dislocation, fractured vertabrae etc--and my midwife kept reminding of the purpsoe of the pain--to get the baby out! And reassureed me that everything was going well which helped me to relax and meditate with the pain--anxiety and fear makes the pain worse. It also helped when I had my best friend with me for the 3rd --she massaged my back, shoulders and legs which helped so much! Hire a doula who knows massage if you don't have supportive friend to be there--your husband is not enough--you need a woman to support you! And limit who it there--it is distracting to have lots of people in the room. Having a baby at home or a birthing center will make it easier as you can give birth in the easiest way for you--for me it was best on my hands and knees(took the pressure off my back)

Debrah Roemisch
Debrah Roemisch2 years ago

By they way at the Farm--Ina May Gaskins commune--they kept records of all births. I think the C-section rate was less than 5% which is probably the most that is truly needed. And the World Health Organization gives the rate as aournd 10 %. In many hospitals now the rate is as high as 50%! You can find out the rate at your local hospitals and for the Drs. Avoid the high ones if at all possible!

Debrah Roemisch
Debrah Roemisch2 years ago

Had all 3 of my girls at home--they are now 33, 28 and 24. I read Ina May Gaskins book Spiritual Midwifery back then--anything byher is probably the best. It was great except that I definitely would say it is pain NOT rushes as they describe them! But it is not unbearable pain--I have had much worse pain: shoulder dislocation, fractured vertabrae, wisdom tooth infection etc. My midwife was so helpful when she kept reassuring me that the pain was normal and meant my uterus was doing its job to get the baby out. just being reminded of the purpose of the pain helped me to put into perspective. Being at home I was able to be in any position I wanted --which was on myh ands and knees--took the pressure off my back which was the worst of the pain for me. Having my best friend with me for the third one was invaluable as she massaged my back, shoulders legs which helped tremendously. If there had been an option of a freestanding birth center I may have chosen that for my first. If you don't have a supportive friend or family member it is a good idea to hire a doula.

Nancy Black
Nancy Black2 years ago

Back in the 70's this was the craze. Had two children, tried natural childbirth with both. Worked with the first; second was breech, and I insisted the baby be turned and no instruments used on the baby's head. It worked, but they had to give me twilight. My second daughter is now a doctor so I guess the pain was worth it. Don't know if it helped my children, but at the time, I was current and as all new mothers do I wanted to do the best for my child.

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby2 years ago


federico bortoletto


Phillipa W.
Phillipa W.2 years ago

2 pain-free births so far and so far 1 which was uncomfortable after the epidural. Pain-free before that. Indeed, good advise in this article.

Leonie MacDonald
Leonie MacDonald2 years ago

Got cut off :) my book is Birth Journeys - positive birth stories to encourage and inspire and if anyone is interested in reading the book it is available from amazon, iTunes, google books as an ebook and also as a print book from the birthjourneys.com.au website

If its not your cup of tea that's fine too :)

Leonie MacDonald
Leonie MacDonald2 years ago

Love your post and your book recommendations. I did have a pain free birth for my second birth but I would never have believed that was possible for me in the past. I was terrified of birth and terrified of having a caesarean too!

I believe it was a combination of understanding how birth works, having a water birth, feeling completely safe and comfortable with birth, a bit of luck and entering into that deeply relaxed state that hypnobirthing (but also yoga and meditation) may allow you to reach. I did experience pain for one brief moment when I was brought out of my deep state - and yes it hurt! Once I used my relaxation breathing to get myself back into that peaceful place tha pain went away again - it was amazing and very different to my first birth (which was also amazing cause every birth just is!)

I would love you to add my self published book to your reading list - it is a collection of diverse birth stories sharing women and men's journeys through pregnancy and birth. After my second birth I really wanted to do something to share the positive stories with women (we hear so many scary horror stories) and help other women to know that a positive birth is possible and they deserve it.

The stories are all deeply personal and uplifting and they share the many possibilities in pregnancy and giving birth as well as the learning women have done and the hardships and challenges they have overcome along the way. It is called 'Birth Journeys - positive birth stories