Best Books for Birth

Best Books For BirthI'm very happy to announce that on the 12th October, I gave birth to my son! The run up to the birth was not the easiest, I ended up in and out of hospital for pre-eclampsia and needed to be induced at 37 weeks. While pre-eclampsia meant that I was classed as too high risk for a home birth, I still feel like I had the birth I really wanted - my mum and fiancĂ© by my side in a private, dimly lit room with a plentiful supply of gas & air for pain relief and a birthing ball for comfort. 

Aside from all of this, I'm pleased that my instincts kicked in and told me when to push and I'm even more pleased that I chose to listen to these instincts above the voices of the professionals around me, who much to my annoyance were standing around telling me it was too early to push, when just 15 minutes and 4 pushes later, my son was here! I'm not so sure I would have been stubborn enough to ignore them and trust my own body, were it not for the few books I read before going into labour. Here's my list of the books I found really helpful for preparing me the biggest event of my life.

Do Birth - by Caroline Flint

As a first time mum, my main worry was not knowing just how much child birth would hurt. I had a lot of questions but they were usually met by horror stories whenever I asked friends of mine about their labours and I really didn't want to hear any more negative stories. How would I know when I've gone into labour? Will a labour contraction feel completely different to Braxton Hicks? How long will I be able to withstand the pain of contractions using just gas and air before shouting out for an epidural (turned out to be 4 hours, I had gone into what I now realise was the transition stage and by this point and shouted out for an epidural... which I never did receive in the end as it was too late!)

Do Birth Caroline Flint
Do Birth by Caroline Flint
Birthwise Antenatal Classes DVD
BirthWise Antenatal DVD

In 'Do Birth', the emphasis is placed on trusting your own body's ability to cope and knowing when to push and when you've hit that "give me the damn epidural!" stage. Having someone present who can remind you of this can help you get through them final few contractions and onto the thankfully much easier, pushing stage. 

The author of this book, Caroline Flint also has a great antenatal DVD called 'BirthWise'. I used this DVD instead attending of classes, due to time constraints, the cost of some of them and my partner's unsociable working hours. I would highly recommend both the book and DVD for increasing your confidence and trust in your own body.

The Good Birth Companion - Nicole Croft
The Good Birth Companion
by Nicole Croft
The Good Birth Companion - by Nicole Croft

The Good Birth Companion offers lots of great ideas for what to put in your birth plan - I had no idea where to start with mine as it wasn't something I had gone through before! It's incredibly useful for first time mums who feel like they have very little choice in how the birth plays out or little knowledge of the many decisions they'll need to make in the heat of the moment.

Whether you're planning on a home birth or hospital, or even if your plan goes completely out the window in the last few weeks or even last minute, this book will get you thinking about individual elements you can have in any setting - such as the ideal birth partners, the birthing environment, skin-to-skin contact, pain relief preferences, or different birthing positions.   

Men, Love & Birth - by Mark Harris
Men, Love & Birth - Mark Harris
Men, Love & Birth by Mark Harris

This book was sat on a table in my living room during the last few weeks of my pregnancy and every midwife who came to visit me commented on it. Written by a male midwife, Men, love & Birth offers a unique and humorous perspective of the birthing process, targeted at male birth partners. 

There are loads of books out there for women but very few for their birth partners. It's great that this book exists to fill that gap in the market, as having a well informed and supportive birth partner can make all the difference in birth.
A great birth partner can be there to defend your wishes (privacy, birth position, environment) when you're incapable of defending them yourself, will sits/stand by you and rub your back for hours if you find it helpful, frequently remind you of how strong you are and perhaps even shares your gas and air and have a laugh with you in-between contractions!

Many men go into the labour room not knowing what to expect and yes, in some ways no amount of reading or attending antenatal classes will prepare them fully for your own unique birth (neither my partner or my mother had heard me scream out in pain, not even with appendicitis, or after a motorcycle accident - so nothing could have prepared them for my primal screaming!), but having knowledge of the process, the ways in which they can help you, your needs, different pain relief options and their drawbacks will make all the difference.

There is also a chapter at the back of the book on support with breastfeeding. Partners can play a crucial role in supporting women with breastfeeding, especially through the tearful first few days while waiting for milk to come in and battling a crying newborn, sleep deprivation of the highest level and afterbirth pains. Having someone to just sit by you at 3am during a night feed is comfort enough!

Whoosh! A little Book For Birth Companions - Katie Brooke
Whoosh! A Little Book For Birth
 Companions by Katie Brooke
Whoosh! A little Book For Birth Companions - by Katie Brooke

Whoosh! is more of a novelty item for birth partners, but in between its amusing cartoon illustrations, it offers a sort of 'cheat sheet' for what to expect, such as what to pack in the hospital bag (very important!) the signs of labour, how to help a woman in labour to relax into it and different birthing positions. There's also space at the back for useful phone numbers.

This book would make a great keepsake for partners and it's even handy to show the older siblings of the unborn baby, so that they have some idea of what will happen.

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