1. What's Right For Me - Dr Sara Wickham
This should be an absolute 'go to' book for anyone expecting a baby, both mother to be and her birth partner.
It is very easy to read, has a lovely style to it, covers pretty much anything that you may encounter and is evidence based. It is now my preferred book to hand out to couples who I am teaching. As Sara herself writes: 'The decisions that we make about our pregnancy and childbirth journeys can shape our experiences, health and lives, as well as those of our families. But many of those decisions are complex, confusing and overwhelming. They are often made harder by the fact that we live in a world full of information, options and opinions, which aren't all woman-centred.
This book explains the different perspectives and approaches that people take towards childbirth. It offers tips, tools and ways of thinking that will help you find the path that's right for you.'
2. The Positive Birth Book - Milli Hill
What Milli Hill has managed to do with the Positive Birth Movement absolutely blows me away. I only wish that she had set it up before I had my first child. This book covers EVERYTHING that you will need to know from your personal views on birth and how they affect you, to what giving birth is actually like, planning your birth, choice, where to give birth, what ifs and post birth. She uses experiences and views from a huge variety of mothers and has great icons to use for a visual birth plan.
Her birth experiences also echo my own. She went on to set up the PBM, I became a hypnotherapist and hypnobirthing teacher - experiences, good and bad, can shape who you become.
3. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth - Ina May Gaskin
Whether you like it or not, your subconscious blue-prints about birth are constantly being created and confirmed every time you see or hear about labour & birth. Sadly, more often or not this will be in a TV drama, soap or car-crash documentary.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is therefore your totem against bad birth portrayal. The stories that you will read in this book are of real women supported by great midwifery. This should be our normal.
I can only apologise for the tatty looking copy in the photo. Mine has been read...lots.
4. ANY Hypnobirthing book.
There are many hypnobirthing books on the market now. Which is of course brilliant. Therefore, I have cheated on number 4 and copied in a few of my favourites. There are more than just these four available though so just get your hands on one. The premise throughout these books remains the same even if the breathing and visualisation exercises differ.
Obviously, as a teacher, I would love you to go on a course but perhaps economically that isn't an option. Don't worry, get a book and download some free recordings. Just give it a go. Follow and open your heart and mind to the ideas. The themes in hypnobirthing run through all of the books I have listed before. Be informed. Remain calm and confident. Hypnobirthing teaches you the skills to be able to do this, which is why now it is becoming more and more mainstream.
5. Why Home Birth Matters - Natalie Meddings
So many women I teach arrive on my courses with their hospital of choice filled in on their booking forms. It is very rare for me to teach a couple who are already planning a home birth.
This is such a shame but wholly down to how we present birth choices to women in their early weeks of pregnancy.
It is 'assumed' that hospital is where you give birth, assumed (wrongly) that it is somehow safer for all. Well, I love this little book as it aims to inform women about home birth and why it is such a positive and important option for them.
I spend so much time advising women to surround themselves with blankets from home, comforting scents, dimming hospital room lights, pillows from their own bed because I know that this will help them to relax and feel calm and confident. Well, staying at home is surely the easiest option. This book is evidence based, it covers the details, ideology, the hows and whys and if you encounter any 'forks in the road'.
and finally....why have I missed off the plethora of 'What Happens Each Week' & 'What You Should Be Eating Now' type books. Well, I cannot help but think that websites such as Babycentre, Mumsnet and Netmums have somewhat replaced them. If you need to know what size piece of fruit your baby matches at 23 weeks (a large mango by the way) then you can consult babycentre.co.uk and they will tell you. It's fun and very easy to do from your phone on the way to work. No book required for that :-D