With the ridiculously old-fashioned nature of our pregnancy and delivery, we naturally received a lot of questions about what we read, why we chose what we did, how we came to certain conclusions, etc. Below is a springboard of books we read, starting in order of recommendation:
- The Pregnancy Book by Dr. William Sears:: Get this: M.D. marries R.N. and have eight children (with one adopted) and have horrible hospital birthing experiences... until they have a home birth. With their incredible exposure, they begin a whole library of texts which are focused on natural, normal, healthy, non-interventive pregnancies and labors. This particular text is an excellent replacement for "What to Expect When You're Expecting"
- Lord of the Birth by Jennifer Vanderlaan:: Short book, but great devotional to approach the topic of natural childbirth from a Christian perspective. This text really reminded us of God's greater design and our calling as Christians to "remember who we are", even in labor.
- Husband-Coached Childbirth by Dr. Robert Bradley:: Dr. Bradley returns back to a more natural field study approach, showing how other mammals birth and approach a fear-less laboring experience. He places major emphasis on the need for the husband to coach the laboring mother through delivery. Bradley practiced in the OB during the early 1940's when the only member able to be in the delivery room was the laboring woman. He implemented change at the hospital administration level to promote the benefits toward the labor experience by having her mate accompany and encourage her. Bradley also focused on the need for food while laboring, quiet atmosphere, focusing on positive mental imagery and home birth for healthy moms. ["As a doctor and advocate of natural childbirth I can have no arguments with Ashley Montagu and other experts on human relations who contend that from a bacteriological, sociological, psychological, moral and spiritual standpoint, human babies should be born at home...Hospitals also introduce new complications that home births don't have... In my practice, about three percent of our patients need cesarean sections. Of the remainder who have had their babies through the vaginal route, 96.4 percent achieved spontaneous, uncomplicated, unanesthetized births that could have been managed at home" (Bradley, 1981). ]
- The Secret Life of the Unborn Child by Dr. Thomas Verny:: Phenomenal. Dr. Verny is by title a neo-natal psychologist who researched out the learning abilities of babies in utero. Through empirical evidence he decisively proves the intelligence of "pre-born" babies who enjoy interaction, touch, sound, learning language and intrauterine bonding. Verny also focused on how a person can be influenced by the birthing experience. This was a major eye-opener for us in our pregnancy and one that changed our approach to the birthing experience. ["For his mother, for his father, his birth may represent an unperishable memory, the fulfillment of a life-long dream, but for the child himself, it is something much more momentous--an event that imprints itself on his personality. How he is born--whether it is painful or easy, smooth or violent--largely determines who he becomes and how he will view the world around him" (Verny, 1981).]
- Natural Childbirth: the Bradley Way:: This was the first book we read and it was an excellent book to detail out reasons against typical American labor interventions: episitomies, induced labors, cesarean deliveries, epidurals, etc. This book really focuses on the nitty-gritty science of why certain procedures are not adviseable. If you are already leaning toward a natural pregnancy, this book is not needed. I needed to read the science to support my position and so this text was excellent.
- Childbirth without Fear by Dr. Grantley Dick-Read:: This book actually predates any other on this list. Dick-Read in an Englishman who wrote academically on the effect that fear has on the laboring woman, with especial regard to pain. Dick-Read's writings influenced the further study of Dr. Robert Bradley who pioneered the idea of fear-less childbirth in the United States.
- Supernatural Childbirth:: This book takes a different approach to childbirth: painless, fearless, pleasant childbirth. It is a radical and transformational view of the Christian process of laboring. My husband and I have spoken to people who have had this experience and then have spoken to others who believe this falls under the "name it and claim it" movement. Either way, it is an excellent text to be read with a grain of salt; if for nothing else, the prayers in the back are worth the purchase.
- The Birth Book (Dr. Sears):: In this book, Sears focuses on everything delivery, labor, post-partum. This is an amazing resource. He and his wife detail out their birthing experiences and provide well-balanced, quality advice from a medical profession perspective on natural birthing techniques, coping strategies, preparation and overview.
- Hypno-birthing (The Mongan Method):: She claims to have started some of these concepts indepentantly of Dr. Robert Bradley but it seems to be a complete reiteration of his research. This book is good for emphasis on positivity, but was slightly too granoly for our tastes.