recommended books

There are literally hundreds of pregnancy books out there and how do you sift through all of them to find the best of the best or how to find which one is best for you?  My list has a natural bent, so if that’s not you because and you want all the tests and all an epidural at the first sign of contractions then just click here to buy this ever so popular pregnancy book  and this other book at the top of many reading lists, a popular book written by doctors.

This list is for women who want to research their options, be well-informed, have the healthiest pregnancy possible, and hope to avoid interventions and drugs during birth.  Essentially, this is a list of the best books for natural pregnancy and birth. I’ve divided these into categories: General pregnancy books, preparing for a natural birth, breastfeeding, and parenting.

These all happen to be on the bookshelves at my house that I accumulated through my five pregnancies, (yes this girl has been there, done that pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, cloth-diapering thing FIVE times, and now all those babies have turned into teenagers.)  My books are well-read and worn-out because I pass them amongst my friends and doula clients. I think you’re going to find a few books to call your own and love too.

Please note that these are Amazon links and if you click on a book, I will receive a small commission at absolutely no extra cost to you.

best pregnancy books

Thinking Woman’s Guide is my favorite pregnancy book and that’s why it’s at the top of this list. Before reading this book, I knew the tests and procedures I wanted to avoid, but I didn’t really know why I should avoid them. Henci shows why with all the research she cites. This book contains many appendixes and is well-indexed. To read a sample chapter, see the table of contents, and lots more, go to Henci Goer’s websiteI read this book during my first pregnancy and then I kept it around as a reference book.  It’s really easy to look up a test or procedure that’s being recommended for you during pregnancy.


Joining a few other authors, Penny Simkin’s book writes an excellent overview of all things relating to pregnancy. Before there were hundreds of pregnancy books, there was this one and now it’s newly updated with current research.  A good, general guide for prenatal care, healthy diet, what to avoid, labor, breastfeeding, other postpartum issues. Penny is a physical therapist, a long-time birth worker, and the founder of DONA International. She’s been around the birth-scene for a long time and knows her stuff!

If you’re pregnant, read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth from cover to cover and then read it again! Ina May is the nation’s leading midwife. The national cesarean average is 31% and climbing. Ina May’s is less than 2% over 30 years. Ina May trusts birth and labor. Read this book and be inspired to trust in the process of labor. You’ll read a variety of birth stories so you can see how labor is different for every woman. Some of the topics addressed are avoiding an episiotomy, vaginal birth after cesarean, choosing a caregiver, and the emotional aspect of labor.

best breastfeeding books





For me, the best part of Birthing From Within is how to get over fears surrounding birth. Perhaps you’ve experienced a birth trauma or know someone who has. England offers practical steps to take to move past the fear. She explores the emotional and not just physical aspects of birth.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding: Seventh Revised Edition (La Leche League International Book)
is a comprehensive guide to being successful at breastfeeding. Read it while pregnant so you know what to expect and then keep it on hand to answer questions that may come up after your baby is born. Contains evidenced-based research. Tips on continuing to nurse your baby after going to work.

The Baby Book is the best baby book that I’ve seen, and really the only one you need. Comprehensive. Lots of breastfeeding information. My favorite part is the symptom chart so you can figure out what’s wrong with baby when he’s sick, with recommendations on when to call the doctor and when home care is all that’s needed. My copy is all worn out since I refer to it so much. A must-have on every parent’s bookshelf!

books to help prepare for a natural birth

Dr. William Sears and his wife Martha Sears team up to write The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth (Sears Parenting Library). The book starts with all eight of Martha’s birth stories. Important information includes how to choose your doctor or midwife. This book gives a good overview of pregnancy, labor, and birth.

by Carl Jones is a quick and simple read with exercises in it that will help you achieve relaxation for your mind and body. This book helps to dispel fears you might have surrounding birth. I use the word pictures with my doula clients and couples in childbirth class. One of my favorites!


Natural Childbirth the Bradley® Way by Susan McCutcheon is a practical hands-on learning tool in helping you to achieve a natural birth using many different relaxation techniques.  Susan is a nurse and this is a much different read than the book by Dr. Bradley himself.

A must read for every birth junkie (doulas and childbirth educators) is Robbie Davis-Floyd’s anthropological look at the history of birth in America. She talks about how women in America view birth as a result of our culture and growing up with medicalized hospital birth as the norm. She follows the move from birth in the home to the mass migration to birthing in the hospital and the grassroots effort to bring birth back where it belongs~ in the home. She explains the history of childbirth education.


Anne Geddes is best known for her babies in flower pots photos. This is not that at all. Breathtaking. These remarkable photos celebrate pregnancy and motherhood, even making stretch marks beautiful. I gave this book to one of my midwives and she loved it.


other must have pregnancy books

Read my list of kids’ books to help prepare them for the arrival of baby



  • Jenifer

    I will be 35 weeks pregnant tomorrow. I had been having pressure and cramping so my midwife checked me at my last appointment and I was 2 sm dilated. This is my 2nd baby (my daughter is 18 months old) and I had her naturally and had an episiotomy…ouch! They had told me I should be on modified bedrest since I was 2 cm at 34 weeks, but I don’t like the idea of being inactive. Up until 34 weeks I was exercising regularly so I have cut out any jogging. Can walking at this point be harmful? Also a big reason for remaining active was that my 1st birth went well(other than the episiotomy) and I was active during that pregnancy. I think a big mistake was being told to push if I wanted to at 9 cm last time. I never felt the urge but figured it would get me to the finish quicker. I really want to avoid and episiotomy this time and want to know if you have any advice on that. Also, your take on whether being dialted 2cm at 34 weeks should be concerning. Thanks!

  • Stacey Christesnsen

    I’m studying to become a childbirth educator and doula myself. I’m currently living in Turkey. I love your website. I just finished reading Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper. I really enjoyed it. Do you think it would be a good choice for mothers as well? Blessings!!!

    Dear Stacey, best wishes on our journey to become a CBE and doula. Most definitely, Gentle Birth Choices would be good reading for pregnant women! ~blessings, Guinever

  • Sarah Thornton

    Hi Guinever,

    I wanted to recommend the book Birth, The History of How We Are Born. It’s a truly fascinating account of birth history both beautiful, and sadly barbaric at times. I gave it to my midwife as a gift, and she also loved it.


  • Katie

    Hi Guinever,
    I’m a friend of Coral’s from college and got the link to your site off of a blog post where she mentioned the book “What to expect when you’re expecting.” Checking out your blog led me on a journey that ended with me choosing a birth center and midwife, just to end up in the hospital at 42 weeks having an unneeded c-section. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for suggesting these books, especially Ina May’s Guide. It made a real difference for me even though I ended up in a worse case scenario. Anyhow, I just wanted to share my birth story with you and thank you for the book suggestions. You can find my story at . I plan to become a childbirth educator and doula someday myself, and hopefully have several successful v-bacs.

    I wish you and your new baby well! ~blessings, Guinever

  • Amy Murphy

    This is coming from an old natural believer! I am now expecting my first grandchild and crossing my fingers she will go natural. My sons were 10 and 11 lbs when born with a midwife and it was a mind set! Ina May gets you in the mind set only back then the book to read was The Spiritual Art of Midwifery. Excellent book!!

    I’ve read Spiritual Midwifery and although I do like it, I don’t recommend it freely to everyone. It definitely comes out of the hippie culture of the seventies. Most ladies in the book described their birth as psychedelic (and other similar terms.) The birth stories in Ina May’s Guide to childbirth are more modern and understandable to today’s generation of childbearing women. It’s true that reading Ina May gets you in the right state of mind for a natural birth. I’ve read her book at the end of my last 3 pregnancies. Highly recommended!! Thanks for telling your experience. ~Guinever

  • bellinghamdoula

    Hi Guinever – thanks for your message on my blog @ bellinghamdoula. I have truly enjoyed looking at your blog, too. I like your “straight-talking” communication style!

    I’m so very new to this blogging business… may I ask you how you found my site? And I really like the set up of your site – the topic bars across the top of the page, for instance, are great. How did you do that?

    Thanks, let’s keep chatting!


  • Denise

    Can I recommend one to your site too? I love the stats in Ina May’s book and found many more in the following at the public library:

    Title: The doula book : how a trained labor companion can help you have a shorter, easier, and healthier birth

    Author : Klaus, Marshall H., 1927-
    Publisher, Date : Cambridge, MA : Perseus Pub., c2002.
    ISBN : 0738206091 (pbk.) – Description : ix, 243 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.

    I love this book and it is on my shelf. I always thought it was written more on how to be a doula, but maybe it is for pregnant moms as well. Thanks for the recommendation. ~Guinever

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