There are few conversations that don't have me running to my bookshelf or the local library website to recommend books to my friends. Since the same books come up over and over, I'd like to summarize them here, and I hope to get to reviewing my favorites in due time.
Let me preface this by saying that after two unmedicated labors, I am well aware of why epidurals and other pain killers are used during pregnancy. What is the right choice for me is certainly not the right choice for everyone. While there are many books about unmedicated labors, I have yet to read one that doesn't vilify hospital deliveries. I have experienced a hospital delivery where I was respected and well cared for by midwives and nurses who supported me throughout a long, slow labor. I have good friends who have had similar positive experiences at other hospitals.
Mothering Magazine's Having a Baby, Naturally is my favorite pregnancy book. It tells you what is going on with your body in a more relaxed way (there are websites galore that can provide the week-by-week updates, but that is overkill for some of us), and lays the path for a natural birth.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth was an amazing read. If you only read one book about labor, this should be it! The first half of the book describes personal stories of many women who experienced out-of-hospital births. If you question your ability to birth without drugs, the stories give you many examples of how normal birth can be. The second half of the book shows how powerful the mind-body connection is- what you expect in birth greatly affects how you experience birth.
Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation is about finding the power within yourself to have a positive birth experience. If the first part of the book about birth art is a bit too fruity for you (I, admittedly, learned a bit about myself when I got past my skepticism), there is still more useful information in the later part of the book. This was the book my husband and I actively discussed the most.
Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers can make your first weeks with your baby easier and more rewarding. Roughly half of new mothers will experience difficulty establishing breastfeeding. Every mommy-baby breastfeeding relationship is unique, so I recommend this book for any pregnant woman, even if you have successfully breastfed other babies. For new moms, this book explains why breastfeeding is important, what to expect the first few days and weeks, and what changes to expect over time. It also gives tips for getting past problems along the way. For experienced breastfeeding mothers, I would recommend reading about the first few days and weeks because this stage may be hard to remember, and proper technique can save you a lot of pain. If you EVER experience pain during breastfeeding, please contact a lactation consultant. It is not supposed to hurt!
What pregnancy books have you read? What did you like? Did you read anything you wish you would have avoided?
Update 11 Feb 2010:
I can't believe I forgot to mention Mothering Magazine when I listed Having a Baby, Naturally. It is a great bi-monthly publication with lots of articles for parents and parents-to-be.