Parenting Book Reviews

Table of Contents


Pre-pregnancy Books

Pregnancy Books

Nutrition in Pregnancy

Pregnancy for Fathers

Baby Name Books

Birth guidebooks

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean

Infants & Toddlers


Sleep Problems

Child Rearing & Discipline

Preschool-aged children

Young school-aged children

Teenaged children

Learning disabilities and ADHD

Medical Information & Nutrition

Life Style Choices

Death and Children

Boys/Girls: "Gender" issues

Miscellaneous Books

Other Media

Sources & Acknowledgements

Paula Burch's Home Page


Penny Armstrong & Sheryl Feldman: A Wise Birth. 1990. subtitled: 'Bringing Together the Best of Natural Childbirth with Modern Medicine'. Wm. Morrow and Co., Inc., New York. ISBN 0-688-09192-X. [OOP; try your library or amazon]
This is not a how-to pregnancy guide. It takes a step back and studies the recent history of childbirth, and the contrasting cultures of obstetricians and midwives. The authors conclude with an endorsement of freestanding birth centers. --contributer unknown

This is, in my opinion, the very best of all books on the subject of birth, more important than any how-to manual could ever be, regardless of where you intend to give birth. --Paula Burch

Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer: A Good Birth, A Safe Birth [sources]
Warns about common medical interventions in childbirth that are controversial & possibly unnecessary. Advocates the you present questions to your birth attendent & draw up a written birth plan.

Sheila Kitzinger:Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth [sources]**check this**
a good, well-balanced book it looks at all angles, including stuff on everything from the traditional american ob/hospital birth to home birth with midwives. -- Shelley J. Mitchell [posted]

We like Sheila Kitzinger, the British author of a number of books. You have to be careful, since some of the books that are out are somewhat out of date and/or more specific to Britain than other countries (if you're not a UK'er). Her Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth is a nice overall reference; she is more of advocate of taking charge of the birth process yourself rather than deferring to doctors and hospitals....

Sheila Kitzinger: Homebirth
...In fact, in her book Homebirth, she really cuts loose about advocating homebirth over hospital birth, so much that it seems like she censors herself in her other books.

Kallop: Birth Book (1988, Random House; 0-394-75435-3) [OOP; try your library or amazon]
Written by a labour nurse. Full of practical details about what to expect at the hospital. -- Kate Gregory

I thought this one was really stupid, the equivalent of Hospital- provided Lamaze classes, in which the goal is to make you a more compliant patient, rather than a better-informed one. -- Paula Burch

Phillips & Anzalone: Fathering - Participation in Labour and Birth (1982, Mosby; 0-8016-3922-0) [OOP; try your library or amazon]
The section I liked best was the anecdotes by the fathers. -- Kate Gregory

Walton: Have it Your Way (1976, Bantam; 0-553-11421-2) [OOP; try your library or amazon]
Prepared childbirth (as in Read, Lamaze, or Bradley). Choosing a doctor who isn't going to medicate you against your will. Probably out-dated now. -- Kate Gregory

Wiggins: Childbearing - Physiology, Experiences, Needs (1979, Mosby; none) [OOP; try your library or amazon]
Aimed at nurses rather than pregnant women. Contains a great deal of information, mainly on negative things (eg a list of discomforts that might be expected post-partum). -- Kate Gregory

Lloyd & Remmington: Options in Childbirth (1985, Sphere; 0-7221-5621-9) [OOP; try your library or amazon]
British. Discusses home birth, birth centre, hospital. Unusual pain control eg yoga. Birthing chair/bed/stool. -- Kate Gregory

Feldman: Choices in Childbirth (1978, Bantam; 0-553-13325-X) [OOP; try your library or amazon]
Much like Options, above, but American. -- Kate Gregory

Bing: Six Practical Lessons for an Easier Childbirth (1967, Bantam; 0-553-12216-9) [sources for 1994 edition include amazon]
The "little black book" for Lamaze. -- Kate Gregory

Klaus & Jnell: Parent-Infant Bonding (1982, Mosby; 0-8016-2685-4) [OOP; try your library or amazon]
Aimed at doctors and nurses. Lots of good information about importance of early contact, and a "caring for the parents of" stillborn or "defective" children with emphasis on the parents' emotions. -- Kate Gregory

Simkin, Penny: The BirthPartner [sources]
everything you need to know to help a woman through childbirth. Our case room nurse was reading my husband's copy while I was in labour; fortunately, I didn't really need her:-)

One book that I found to be particularly informative is "The Birth Partner." It describes in great detail the pros & cons of medical interventions in childbirth. Both my wife & I found it to be incredibly educational... definitely for both the birth partner *and* the birthing person. On the whole, it seems to be fairly balanced. It informs you & leaves the decisions up to you... very un-preachy. If we find that we're forced to have the birth in hospital (we're planning a home birth), that book is going to be with me the whole time as a reference so that we can make *informed* decisions. -- Greg Merritt [posted]

Elizabeth Davis: Heart and Hands: a midwife's guide to pregnancy and childbirth. 1997. [sources include amazon]
for those of you who favor the midwifery model more, I recommend [this] and the classic, _spiritual midwifery_ by ina may gaskin, now in its third edition. (see above) -- Shelley J. Mitchell [posted]

The New Our Bodies, Ourselves [sources include amazon]
also has a lot of good info in it. and you can't forget the american college of nurse midwives' book, Having Your Baby With a Certified Nurse Midwife. [I can't find this title on-line. -Ed.] -- Shelley J. Mitchell [posted]

David Stewart:The Five Standards for Safe Childbearing: Good Nutrition, Skillful Midwifery, Natural Childbirth, Home Birth, Breastfeeding [sources include amazon and NAPSAC International, which had an address (in 1981) of: P. O. Box 267, Marble Hill, Missouri 63764]
Subject: Re: Did Lamaze Help You? (NO!) A good book to read is "The Five Standards for Safe Childbearing" by David Stewart. -- Carol L. Bertilson [posted]

Wm and Martha Sears: the Birth Book. 1994. [sources include amazon]
This is my favorite book as a childbirth educator and doula. It starts with how to pick a careprovider, place of birth, classes, everything. It gives accurate, and complete information on all aspects of pregnancy. This is one of the few books that gievs ALL of the facts and assumes that you are mature enough to make your own deicisions. -- Robin Elise Weiss, ICCE, CD, NACA

Robbie Davis-Floyd: Birth as an American Rite of Passage. 1993. [sources include amazon]
I strongly recommend this book. Your local and/or university library will have it.

Like many childbirth books, but more thoroughly, this book describes why various obstetric interventions are unnecessary and even dangerous (there's an umpteen-page bibliography). What's unique about the book is that it proposes a completely brilliant and original explanation for why doctors continue to practice the way they do, and, very interestingly, why most American women accept obstetric interventions even if they were originally planning natural childbirth. Basically, Davis-Floyd argues that modern obstetric practices are elaborate birthing rituals that support a technocratic view of childbirth and of society as a whole. Women are easily sucked into hi-tech births because the technocratic perspective is deeply ingrained into us as members of our culture, and because technology has, in general, been very good to us.

This sounds potentially flaky but she makes a very strong case for it. And how else can one explain the persistence of interventions such as electronic fetal monitoring, in the face of scientific evidence that they cause more harm than good? Once ritualized, the behavior is very difficult to eradicate.

The book includes birth stories, in their own words, from women with birth experiences ranging from homebirth to elective C-sections. It is on my 'it changed my life' shelf along with Siblings Without Rivalry, The Feminine Mystique, and (how embarrassing) Color Me Beautiful!

If you are planning natural childbirth this book will give you the facts and the cognitive ammunition you will need in a normal hospital setting. If you are planning a painless birth, the book might provide insight into the cultural context of your decision. --name withheld by request

Susan McCutheon-Rosegg: Natural Childbirth: The Bradley Way [sources include amazon]
This book is great for learning how to exercise, relax and eat during pregnancy. Bradley comes off to some as being a bit strong, but this book is medically accurate and great for women trying to learn about birth. It does not hinder people by using a medical model, and suggests that women often have the ability to birth within themselves, if only encouraged. -- Robin Elise Weiss, ICCE, CD, NACA

doulas as labor coaches

Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus: Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth. 1993. [sources include amazon]
_Mothering the Mother_ explains what exactly a Doula is and what she can do to help birth be the fantastic experience it can and should be. Doulas do not replace the father or significant other, they are additional... someone who knows birth in its most intimate forms and who has the skills to assist the birthing family achieve the kind of birth *they* want, whether a homebirth, a birth in a birth center, or the varieties of hospital births, with or without medication. Even women who are having planned cesareans can benefit from having a Doula at their side, photographing, assisting, making sure the mother/baby unit remains just that... a UNIT. Doulas generally do visits during the pregnancy, are with the family during the entire labor, delivery, and immediate postpartum period, as well as make a couple of home visits afterwards to make sure the transition is going smoothly. Most carry beepers and are available for consults 24 hours a day. Doula may be a member of the health care team many have never heard of before... but insurance companies are beginning to pay for their services because of the lowered rates of medication, cesareans, and shorter labors. Most who have had a Doula assist during labor would never have it any other way! This book is filled with testimonials, information, statistics, where to find a Doula, and lovely pictures. I encourage anyone interested in the childbearing year, for whatever reason, to read this wonderful book. --Barbara Herrera, Licensed Midwife, Doula

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Last updated: March 2, 2003