There are so many pregnancy and birth books available that sometimes it is really hard to figure out which ones you should read, which ones you should ignore, and which ones you should own. I’ve had several favorites through the years and my bookshelf space has grown a lot, but when all is said and done, there are a few books that really stand out. Here are some Amazon links to some of those that I recommend you consider for your bookshelf.

The Labor Progress Handbook: Early Interventions to Prevent and Treat Dystocia This book is a classic. While it is in its fourth edition, any edition will enhance your practice. The straightforward discussions of some of the toughest topics are vital to your role as a doula or as a childbirth educator. This book is designed for professionals, but I’ve lent it to couples who think in this manner. This isn’t a lovey-dovey book, it’s a summary of the knowledge and research on topics like back pain in labor, comfort measures, interventions and more. The newest edition has a great chapter on preventing dystocia with an epidural. This alone makes this book worth the price and space on your shelf.

Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds This book was an instant classic. Sure, there were other birth books out there. There were also natural birth books out there. What this book combines the elements of the natural birth movement with the elements of the hospital. In recognizing that some families do not have the option to birth at home or in a birth center, this book helps find that sweet spot for families who want to minimize interventions or medications while still giving birth in the hospital.

The Birth Partner, 4th Edition, Completely Revised and Updated: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and Other Labor Companions This is another classic doula book. If you trained with DONA International, it’s required reading for certification and is used in conjunction with your birth doula training. If you have an older copy, you may be wondering if it’s worth getting the latest edition – I would say yes, particularly if you have a really old copy. While any edition is great information, the authors do continually update with new research and thoughts on helping families through labor. This really is the workbook of a doula.

Birth Ambassadors: Doulas and the Re-Emergence of Woman-Supported Birth in America If you need a through and thoughtful guide to doula work – this book will soothe your soul. This book is part historical text talking about how birth has been and how women lacked support and how doulas came to fill that role both historically and in a modern era. This is a tell it like it is book, you’ll get to read about the hard parts of being a doula, the inconsistencies that we see in the profession. It will make you smile in recognition and frustrated at some of what we and the families we serve deal with daily.