Resources & Recommendations
There are a myriad of wonderfully knowledgeable birth educators out there, many of whom have taken the time to share their wisdom in written or visual form. Select from the tabs below to view a small selection of the books and documentary films I have found useful during my journey as a doula / birth attendant.
Below you will also find a selection of websites that I recommend, divided into categories, to assist you in your quest for knowledge surrounding various aspects of birth and parenting.
I have multiple copies of the majority of books in my ever expanding library. Provided these are not already on loan, these books have become terrific resources which my clients are welcome, and indeed encouraged, to borrow.
Please note: I have provided Amazon order links for all of the books featured below. These are purely for convenience. If you decide to track down a title yourself (and I strongly encourage you to do so!), please shop around as prices vary considerably amongst sellers. Within Australia, I’d recommend checking out Fishpond, Capers, and Ebay.
In this accessible, straightforward book, Rhea Dempsey draws on over thirty years’ experience to show how a woman’s choice of caregivers, support team and birthplace, as well as her life experience and personal attitudes to pain, will affect her birth outcomes. Featuring real-life stories, the latest Australian statistics and opportunities for guided personal reflection, Birth with Confidence provides the knowledge and practical advice that women need for the best chance of normal birth in today’s birth culture.
About the author: An educator, speaker and birth attendant with experience at over 1,000 births, Rhea Dempsey is a respected birth practitioner with a reputation as one of the foremost thinkers on the topic of working with pain in childbirth and its connection to normal physiological birthing. Rhea is a highly sought after speaker and presenter at conferences, seminars and workshops on birth and counselling issues. She regularly addresses pregnant women, their partners and support people; complementary health practitioners; midwives and medical practitioners.Order Online Paperback: 210 pages
Publisher: Boathouse Press
If you want to learn how best to help an expectant mother have a happy and healthy childbirth, The Birth Partner, Third Edition is the only book you’ll need. For almost 20 years, husbands, partners, friends, relatives, and doulas have turned to this book for guidance on being a supportive partner in the delivery room. The expanded third edition includes the most up-to-date information about techniques, devices, and medications for easing labour pain; tests and treatments of the fetus and newborn; strategies to help labour progress; potential medical procedures and interventions; and how best to help the mother during the early days after the birth. And, with its easy-to-use format and new illustrations, the The Birth Partner is the essential guide have on hand in the delivery room.
About the author: Penny Simkin is a physical therapist who has specialized in childbirth education since 1968. She serves on the editorial board for Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care and the consultant boards for the International Childbirth Education Association and the Seattle Midwifery School.Order Online Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Harvard Common Press
Dystocia or failure to progress in labour is the main reason for cesarean deliveries. The second edition of this successful text focuses on simple non-invasive interventions to prevent or treat difficult labour. It describes positions, movements and techniques based on principles of anatomy, physiology and psychology of childbirth.
The Labour Progress Handbook is organized by stage of labour for easy reference, enabling the care giver to quickly identify appropriate low cost, low risk interventions and treat dystocia effectively, at an early stage before it becomes severe. The new edition has been thoroughly revised and updated and includes a new chapter on assessing progress in labour, together with new sections on managing labour pain, normal labour and additional positions and maneuvers. The rationale for all techniques is included based on the authors’ clinical experience and wherever possible on the underlying evidence base.
About the author: (See above for details about Penny Simkin). Ruth Ancheta is a certified DONA doula and approved trainer and has been a certified childbirth educator through ICEA for more than twenty years. She has authored numerous childbirth education materials including the Childbirth Skills Teaching Kit and the VBAC Source Book and Teaching Kit.Order Online Paperback: 320 pages
An authoritative guide to natural childbirth and postpartum parenting options from an MD who home-birthed her own four children.
Sarah Buckley might be called a third-wave natural birth advocate. A doctor and a mother, she approaches the question of how a woman and baby might have the most fulfilling birth experience with respect for the wisdom of both medical science and the human body. Using current medical and epidemiological research plus women’s experiences (including her own), she demonstrates that what she calls “undisturbed birth” is almost always healthier and safer than high-technology approaches to birth. Her wise counsel on issues like breastfeeding and sleeping during postpartum helps extend the gentle birth experience into a gentle parenting relationship.
About the author: Sarah is a family physician (GP), mother of four homeborn children and currently full-time writer on pregnancy, birth and parenting.
Sarah has lectured on these topics since 1995 to parents and professionals in Australia, US, Canada, New Zealand and, in May 2011 in UK, Italy and Switzerland. Her articles have been published internationally, including in Mothering magazine (US), MIDIRS Midwifery Digest (UK), Wellbeing magazine (Australia), Natural Parenting (Aus) Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (US) and The Compleat Mother (Canada).Order Online Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Celestial Arts
‘New Active Birth’ will help you and your partner prepare for and experience an Active Birth. Naturally, throughout time and the world over, women have chosen to walk, stand, squat, lie – to move their bodies freely and actively to find the most comfortable positions for labour and birth. It is only we in the west who have the extraordinary notion that a woman should lie on her back in a position that defies the laws of nature and gravity. With this book, you can learn to develop all your body’s resources to deal with the instinctive experience of childbirth.
It is also for partners, teachers, midwives and everyone involved, to help mothers get up off the delivery table and to bring back some of the common sense which has been overlooked by modern obstetrics
About the author: Janet Balaskas is a pioneer and innovator in the field of childbirth and maternity care. She is the founder of the well-known and influential Active Birth Movement and is the preeminent pregnancy and childbirth writer and expert of our time; Janet is internationally recognised by mothers and midwives alike as THE name in yoga for pregnancy and natural, self-empowering approaches to the birth experience. Janet now runs the International Active Birth Centre in London, lectures internationally and is a well-known campaigner for women’s rights in childbirth. She is the author of several books, including New Active Birth, Natural Pregnancy and The Encyclopedia of Pregnancy and Birth.Order Online Paperback: 224 pages
The Waterbirth Book is the comprehensive guide to all aspects of waterbirth and the use of water throughout pregnancy and during infancy.
About the author: Janet Balaskas (See Above).Order Online Paperback: 224 pages
As an intelligent woman, you are probably used to learning as much as you can before making major decisions. But when it comes to one of the most important decisions of your life–how you will give birth—it is hard to gather accurate, unbiased information. Surprisingly, much of the research does not support common medical opinion and practice.
Birth activist Henci Goer gives clear, concise information based on the latest medical studies. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth helps you compare and contrast your various options and shows you how to avoid unnecessary procedures, drugs, restrictions, and tests.
About the author: Henci Goer specializes in birth issues. Her previous book, Obstetric Myths Versus Research Realities, is a highly-acclaimed resource for childbirth professionals. Goer has written consumer education pamphlets and numerous articles for magazines as diverse as Reader’s Digest and Childbirth Instructor. For nearly 20 years, Goer has been a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator and labour support professional (doula).Order Online Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Perigee Trade
When it was first published in 1994, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom quickly became an international bestseller, and for the past fifteen years it has remained the veritable bible of women’s health. Now, in this revised and updated edition, world-renowned and much-beloved women’s health expert Dr. Christiane Northrup shares with us the latest developments and advances that will maximize our potential for living well in our bodies today.
About the author: Christiane Northrup M.D. is also the author of the No.1 New York Times bestseller The Wisdom of Menopause and Mother-Daughter Wisdom, and the host of seven public television specials. A board-certified OB/GYN and past president of the American Holistic Medical Association with more than twenty years of clinical and medical teaching experience, Dr. Northrup was a pioneer in the partnership between conventional and complementary medicine. Her work has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Today, and Good Morning America, among many others. She lives in Maine and is the mother of two adult daughters.Order Online Paperback: 960 pages
The 4th edition of the classic book on home birth that introduced a whole generation of women to the concept of natural childbirth. Back again are even more amazing birthing tales, including those from women who were babies in earlier editions and stories about Old Order Amish women attended by the Farm midwives. Also new is information about the safety of techniques routinely used in hospitals during and after birth, information on postpartum depression and maternal death, and recent statistics on births managed by The Farm Midwives.
From the amazing birthing tales to care of the newborn, Spiritual Midwifery is still one of the best books an expectant mother could own. Includes resources for doulas, childbirth educators, birth centers, and other organizations and alliances dedicated to improving maternity care at home and in hospitals.
About the author: Ina May Gaskin is one of the Founders and the current president of the Midwives’ Alliance of North America. She is a powerful advocate for a woman’s right to give birth without excessive and unnecessary medical intervention. Her clinical midwifery skills have been developed entirely through independent study and apprenticeship with other midwives around the world. Ina May and fellow Farm midwives were instrumental in the development of the rigorous Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) certification process.
Ina May travels internationally on speaking engagements and networking with other midwives and midwife alliances.Order Online Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Book Pub Co.
Renowned for her practice’s exemplary results and low intervention rates, Ina May Gaskin has gained international notoriety for promoting natural birth. She is a much-beloved leader of a movement that seeks to stop the hyper-medicalization of birth—which has lead to nearly a third of hospital births in America to be cesarean sections—and renew confidence in a woman’s natural ability to birth.
Upbeat and informative, Ina May asserts that the way in which women become mothers is a women’s rights issue, and it is perhaps the act that most powerfully exhibits what it is to be instinctually human. Birth Matters is a spirited manifesta showing us how to trust women, value birth, and reconcile modern life with a process as old as our species.
About the author: Ina May Gaskin (See Above).Order Online Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
A classic for all new parents, this book inspires, informs and reassures. From conception through to birth, Sheila Kitzinger describes what to expect and prepares parents-to-be for the physical changes ahead. Now it includes information on Caesarean births, the birthing sling, sex during pregnancy, and nutrition. It encourages expectant parents to be actively involved in decisions about their antenatal care and birth method.
About the author: Renowned as the leading authority on women’s experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, Sheila Kitzinger’s campaigning work has increased awareness of maternal rights and contributed towards the many changes in maternity services in the UK. As a social anthropologist, Sheila has conducted research into antenatal care, lectures worldwide and has written 24 books. Sheila lives near Witney, Oxfordshire.Order Online Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishing
The best way to choose birth at home or in the hospital. As research discloses the risks of intensively managed hospital birth, increasing numbers of women are considering alternatives. This new updated edition of Sheila Kitzinger’s pioneering work gives them the facts. Highly informative yet sensitively written, and supported by firsthand accounts of women’s personal experiences of birth, this is the essential guide for every woman considering her options.
A longtime champion of freedom of choice in childbirth, Sheila Kitzinger is uniquely placed to advise and support women who want to make the right decision confidently for themselves.
About the author: Sheila Kitzinger (See Above).Order Online Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishing
For thousands of years women have given birth among people they know in a place they know well. Knowledge is shared between the participants and birth is a social event. In this new, revised edition of her classic book, Sheila Kitzinger explores the universal experience of pregnancy and birth. She looks closely at the place of birth, what is done to help women in childbirth and examines the bond traditionally formed between mothers and midwives.
About the author: Sheila Kitzinger (See Above).Order Online Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Pinter & Martin Ltd
New moms are spreading the word to pregnant women just like you: Doulas make pregnancy and childbirth the celebratory experience it is meant to be! Doulas are professionally trained women who provide support before, during, and after delivery. Research has shown that doulas help women have positive birth experiences, decrease the need for pain medication, improve breastfeeding success, and reduce the need for cesarean sections and other invasive procedures.
Author Rachel Gurevich interviewed more than 235 women and birth professionals to bring you this best-kept pregnancy secret. Inside, you’ll find real mothers’ stories and discover how doulas make a joyful difference in childbirth.
About the author: Rachel Gurevich is the coauthor of Birth Plans for Dummies and the author of The Doula Advantage and the FabJob Guide to Become a Doula. She also writes about fertility for About.com. Her passion is helping women make informed and empowered decisions regarding fertility, pregnancy, birth, and beyond, and helping them express those wishes clearly and with confidence.
Besides the womb-warrior mission, she’s the mother of four children, a voracious reader, and gaga for all things writing.Order Online Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Providing both inspiration and education, this guide to natural childbirth offers 48 personal accounts of labour and delivery without medication. Revealing the many options women have beyond birthing location, the testimonials offer insight into the joys, concerns, and realities of natural birth. From delivering at home with a midwife and hearing the right words from a hospital nurse at just the right moment to describing a combination of the Bradley method and acupuncture at a birthing center and discussing a child’s birth at home in warm water, this resource combines personal insight with referential information.
About the author: Sheri L. Menelli was a certified HypnoBirthing educator and doula. She produced and cohosted the San Diego radio show, ‘The Real Side of Birth’. She lives in San Diego County, California.Order Online Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: White Heart Publishing
Here is a holistic approach to childbirth that examines this profound rite-of-passage not as a medical event but as an act of self-discovery. Exercises and activities such as journal writing, meditation, and painting will help mothers analyze their thoughts and face their fears during pregnancy.
For use during birth, the book offers proven techniques for coping with labour pain without drugs, a discussion of the doctor or midwife’s role, and a look at the father’s responsibilities. Childbirth education should also include what to expect after the baby is born. Here are baby basics, such as how to bathe a newborn, how to get the little one to sleep, and tips for getting nursing off to a good start. Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is a process of continuous learning and adjustment; Birthing From Within provides the necessary support and education to make each phase of birthing a rewarding experience.
About the author: Pam England, a registered nurse and certified nurse midwife, developed the ‘birthing from within’ approach in a series of birthing classes to help mothers reclaim and celebrate the spiritual, emotional, and psychological aspects of birth as a rite of passage. Her book is a collection of methods that have been used for class participants. Pam is quick to point out that this “is not a script or a rigid method,” and she encourages parents and professionals to use those portions that are helpful.Order Online Paperback: 331 pages
Publisher: Partera Press
The Wonder Weeks describes in easy-to-understand terms the incredible developmental changes and regression periods that all babies go through during the first 20 months of their lives. Age-related fluctuations and the need for body contact and attention are all related to major and quite dramatic changes in the brains of children. These changes enable a baby to enter a whole new perceptual world and, as a consequence, to learn many new skills. Wonder week by wonder week you’ll discover the dates in the first 20 months when all babies take ten major development leaps. Learn how to encourage each leap forward. Help your baby with the three Cs’ of fussy behavior: Cranky, Clingy and Crying. Recognize the on-set of stressful times and join your children in coping with them.
About the author: Hetty van de Rijt studied Educational Psychology at the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands and obtained her Ph.D. in Physical Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, England. At the University of Amsterdam, Dr. van de Rijt studied the development of human babies in their home environment. As lead author with her husband as co-author, she wrote the best-selling parenting book The Wonder Weeks, which has been published in twelve languages, from the USA to Japan.
Frans X. Plooij studied behavioral biology in the Netherlands in Amsterdam, Nijmegen, and Groningen, where he received his Ph.D. in 1980. He is a full member of several international, scientific societies including the New York Academy of Sciences. Together they studied infant development in free-living chimpanzees with Dr. Jane Goodall in the Gombe National Park, Tanzania, East Africa. Dr. Plooij is director of the International Research-institute on Infant Studies (IRIS) at Arnhem, and president of Kiddy World Promotions B.V.Order Online Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Kiddy World Publishing
Everyone loves to tell a new parent what they ‘should’ be doing. But you know best what your baby needs; you just have to trust your instincts. Pinky McKay has helped thousands of parents feel confident and in tune with their baby. Every day she works hands on with mum and bubs, helping to take the stress out of life with a newborn.
In this essential guide to your baby’s first year, Pinky provides the best information available on feeding, sleeping, crying, routines, life changes and survival.
About the author: Pinky McKay is a soothing balm for uncertain parents everywhere. Her books – Sleeping Like a Baby, Toddler Tactics, Parenting by Heart and 100 Ways to Calm the Crying – have established her as a trustworthy voice of reason in the messy, fun, confusing business of parenting. Her books are approved and recommended by groups, including the Australian Breastfeeding Association and the Australian Association of Infant Mental Health.
Pinky is an internationally recognised parenting expert (and qualified lactation and baby massage consultant), and has been helping parents through her talks, workshops, television appearances, blogs, columns, conferences and private practice for over thirty years.Order Online Paperback: 352 pages
Obsessed about your baby’s sleep? Feeling ‘weak’ because you can’t leave him to cry himself to sleep? Do you need to relax more and enjoy being a parent? Parenting expert Pinky McKay offers a natural, intuitive approach to solving your little ones’ sleep problems and gives practical tips on cues, safe sleeping environments, settling and feeding.
Sleeping Like A Baby is a must read for stress-free, guilt-free parenting and offers down-to-earth and heartening advice on helping babies (and their parents!) to sleep better.
About the author: Pinky McKay (See Above).Order Online Paperback: 336 pages
Driven by the desire to help her three-year-old daughter settle down into a peaceful night’s sleep, Maureen Garth devised meditations that would help her daughter feel secure and cared for. Starbright is a collection of the stories Garth created as her child grew older.
These innovative meditations are simple visualizations parents and teachers can read to their children to help them sleep, develop concentration, awaken creativity, and learn to quiet themselves.
About the author: Maureen Garth was an innovative teacher and writer about meditation who lived in Sydney, Australia. She died after completing the manuscript of Earthlight. In addition to her collections of childrens visualizations for older readers, The Inner Garden, InnerSpace,and The Power of the Inner Self.Order Online Paperback: 112 pages
The seventy-two exercises for journal keeping in this book are simple and enjoyable ways for children from kindergarten through junior high to: express feelings and thoughts, feel comfortable about writing and drawing, acquire the habits of self-observation and reflection, foster a positive self-image, exercise imagination, learn to communicate, strengthen attention span and concentration, enrich academic skills, and find strength and wisdom within.
About the author: Lucia Capacchione is a registered Art Therapist, Expressive Arts Therapist, workshop leader and best-selling author of 15 books. Her innovative methods spark and nurture creativity in all areas of life.Order Online Paperback: 120 pages
Using a lively array of anthropological and sociological sources, The Vital Touch presents a provocative examination of the reasons why, now more than ever, we need to make consistent physical connections with our infants and children.
About the author: To heal the mind, Sharon Heller believes one must first heal the body. “…the easiest step toward improving the quality of life consists in simply learning to control the body and its senses,” wrote Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Toward this goal, Sharon’s writing focuses on healing sensory processing problems, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges holistically: optimal nutrition (organic and alive!), nature’s pharmacy, detoxification (internal and external), cranial/sacral alignment, movement, sensorimotor activities, and vibrational medicine.Order Online Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks
In this renowned classic, Vimala McClure, founder of the International Association of Infant Massage, and its premier proponent in the United States, helps you master the techniques of infant massage so you can incorporate this joyful and wonderful healing art into your baby’s life. She shows you why a daily massage can be one of the greatest gifts you give your child…and yourself. For generations mothers the world over have known that the soft stroke of their hands soothes, calms, and communicates their love to their babies. Now scientific research proves that massage can do all that and more.
About the author: Vimala McClure has been writing and teaching since 1973. She learned the basics of Infant Massage while studying yoga and working at an orphanage in India. She connected the way children interacted in India with the massage and loving touch they received as infants.Order Online Paperback: 272 pages
Tears and Tantrums describes a compassionate way of responding to crying and raging in children from birth to age eight. This respectful and revolutionary approach has many benefits, including: helping babies sleep through the night, preventing discipline problems, increasing children’s attention span, reducing aggression and hyperactivity, and helping children heal from trauma.
About the author: Aletha Solter, Ph.D. is a Swiss/American developmental psychologist, parenting consultant, and director of the Aware Parenting Institute (www.awareparenting.com). She holds a Master’s degree in human biology from the University of Geneva, Switzerland (where she studied with Dr. Jean Piaget), and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
When Aletha’s first child was born in 1977 (following a traumatic birth) she did not find any parenting books that advocated attachment-style parenting and non-punitive discipline while taking into account the impact of stress and trauma on children’s development.Order Online Paperback: 177 pages
Publisher: Shining Star
On a winter night, in a cottage far away from the town, Mum’s baby is ready to be born. The midwife arrives and the whole family prepare for the home birth. In this honest and moving portrayal, Jenni Overend and Julie Vivas celebrate the birth of a baby at home with warmth and joy.
This is a book for the whole family to share in preparation for a home birth or the arrival of a new baby.
About the author: Jenni Overend is a teacher and writer. She lives in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, Australia with her husband and four children. She avoids writing and housework at all costs by gardening, riding a yellow bicycle, and observing big trees and small dogs. Julie Vivas is the illustrator of many superb picture books and lives in Victoria, Australia.Order Online Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Childrens Books
Runtime: 95 mins.Order Online
Runtime: 87 minsOrder Online
Runtime: 85 minsOrder Online
Uplifting, inspiring, informing and impressive, the committed and self-responsible parents followed in each of these terrific documentaries show us how possible it is to work creatively with each unique birth and respond to challenges and the unexpected.
Runtime: (The Big Stretch) 60 mins
Runtime: (The Big Stretch Sequel) 120 mins
* Also available ‘More Business of Being Born’
Runtime: 87 minsOrder Online
Runtime: 27 mins.Order Online
Below is a list of links and resources relating to pregnancy, childbirth and parenting which you may find useful.
Birth Preparation and Education:
|‘Rhea Dempsey Birthing Wisdom’||www.birthingwisdom.com.au|
|‘Di Diddle Birth’||www.birtheducation.com.au|
Shared Care and Birth Counselling:
Pregnancy and Birth Care:
|‘Fertile Ground Health Group’||www.fertileground.com.au|
|‘Melbourne Midwifery Collective’||www.melbournemidwiferycollective.com|
|‘Find A Doula Directory’||www.findadoula.com.au|
|‘Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering’||www.sarahbuckley.com|
|‘Optimal Foetal Positioning’||www.spinningbabies.com|
|‘Breech Birth Australia & New Zealand’||www.breechbirth.net|
|‘Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond’||www.pregnancy.com.au|
VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean):
|‘Caesarean Awareness Network’||www.canaustralia.net|
|‘Australian Breastfeeding Association’||www.breastfeeding.asn.au|
|‘College of Lactation Consultants Victoria’||www.lactation.org.au|
|‘Infant Massage Australia’||www.infantmassage.org.au|
|‘Move Create Dance’ – Children’s Creative Movement Classes||www.movecreatedance.com|
|‘Post & Antenatal Depression Assoc. Inc’||www.panda.org.au|
|*Please contact me to report any dead links so I can keep this page relevant and up to date! Thank you!|