5 Books to Start Gestating your Birth Mentoring and Pregnancy Knowledge

Birth books never get old at my house.  Are you looking for some great reads this winter?  Here are five birth books you can cozy up by the fire with and really start digging deep into birth practices, their influences on maternal-fetal health, and how to get started now helping your mentoring clients or making your pregnancy more holistic and comfortable.

Safer Childbirth? by Marjorie Tew

This book is a hard look at the history of maternity practices - from cultural and anthropological influence to studies and evidence completely disregarded and twisted - that literally changed the way we believe about birth and the misconceived perception of safety that runs rampant with many providers and birthing facilities, with research to back.  If you're new to the birth scene, definitely grab a copy of this!  If you're seasoned, especially if you have formal education and find birthing practices and helping women intriguing, definitely grab a copy of this!

Tew tells us, "Action to reduce losses in childbirth still further would have to concentrate on improving the health of the neediest mothers.  In the light of past performance, there is not the slightest reason to believe that the desired objective would be achieved by increasing the medical input into maternity care. On the contrary, fewer losses would result if the medical input into maternity care were greatly restricted, while access to, and uptake of, healthy diets and social support became universal."

Hear, hear!

Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman, M.S.

Many of you may have read Katy Bowman's interview years ago about the negative impacts of kegels (read: mono-movement) and importance of [proper] squatting (though, in reality - it is movement she's getting at - not just squatting).  You may not have realized that within that time, that interview exponentially increased her traffic and in addition to her amazing Nutritious Movement website, she has many amazing books that are an absolute must read for any... modern human!  What I love most?  She further instills my annoyance over "exercises" and instead encourages fun and functional balanced daily movement.

Movement - rather body alignment which is created from healthy daily movement - is crucial for the body's biological ability to birth smoothly.  There's only so much healthy eating can do for you.  While not a perinatal-specific book, this is a foundational look into some of the most common health conditions of our modern cultures which directly relates to many common birth and breastfeeding complications.

Bowman urges us, "I want you to keep exercise and movement separate in your mind because there are many movements we wouldn't consider exercise that are essential to the tissues of the body.  For example, the workings of an infant's mouth while feeding at the breast are different than the workings of an infant's mouth while feeding off a bottle.  In the end, the task of getting milk is accomplished no matter if you take a boob or a bottle, but the process of milking the breast, it turns out, is important to the optimal formation of the jaw and face bones.  The structure of the face bones and established motor patterns of the face muscles end up affecting other processes, like breathing and swallowing, as ell as the space available for tooth eruption."

mmmmhmmm.... I know - all you mommas out there that have ever interacted with me for breastfeeding support are probably hearing my voice in your head repeating my caution of things like pacifiers, am i right?  This is a great lead into the next dig-deeper book recommendation.

Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding, 2ed. by Linda J. Smith and Mary Kroeger

Still one of my most absolute favorite books.  Period.  If I could quote the entire amazing information here, I would.  It is just so good and I am constantly astonished by the persons that work within the maternity industry that not only haven't read this book, but are completely unaware of the information within.  This title is a picked apart, intensely researched, look at birthing practices from the big ones - like cesarean and pain relief - the seemingly insignificant ones with big impacts - like IV fluid and mother's position at birth.  I mean, wow!  It is worth every single penny and I do so hope that if you're a perinatal mentor, that this is already on your bookshelf.  If not, please add this one soon!

The authors explain in the chapter on Effects of IV Hydration on Maternal Stress, Breast Edema, and Lactogenesis, "Postpartum breast engorgement is a major barrier to establishment of effective and comfortable breastfeeding.  Only recently have clinicians differentiated between onset of copious milk secretion (lactogensis III) and edema... Many mothers have left birth facilities by day 2-4, and may not have access to adequate professional support in the critical first week postbirth."

Then the snowball just keeps rolling.

Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding, Revised Ed. by Dr. Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman

Dr. Jack Newman has some of the most thorough and equally the most effective - simple - breastfeeding information available.  There are a lot of great resources out there, but if you're looking for that one title to add to your shelves, this is it.  It is great for expecting mothers without having to filter through a lot of opinions or outdated support techniques to get to the basics of breastfeeding and likewise a great flip-through reference for perinatal mentors.

Have you experienced this yourself?  Newman explains, "A baby who 'latches on just fine for the first few days' and then cannot latch on when the mother's milk comes in and she becomes engorged probably didn't latch on in the first few days: he pretended to.  If a baby breastfeeds well in the first few days, the mother may feel full when her milk 'comes in,' but she should not be so engorged that the baby cannot latch on."

Did your mentor share this information with you?  This is only the tippity top of the iceberg of information contained within these pages dispelling myths - even in the birth support community.

Herbal Healing for Children by Demetria Clark

You know I couldn't do a list like this without some recommendation of herbal wellness.  Many new mentors and parents are looking for compact information that makes their lives easier and healthier.  This is a great book for the shelf that does just that.  Not limited to children, despite the title, it is great for the whole family by offering pages and pages of whole-family safe recipes and basic herbal care knowledge sharing.  Everything from cradle cap and diaper rash remedies to infestations, infections, and fever support - this is a great go-to for feeling more confident in parenting (always helpful) and having resources available for mentoring clients.

A little excerpt encourages, "Treating a child with herbs can be an effective way to fortify the body and cure illness.  Herbal medicine is the right choice for kids because it blends modern medical research with ancient practices and remedies.  Children generally respond well to herbal remedies, even when they are administers in tiny doses.  Children's bodies are sensitive and react promptly to an herb's synergistic, efficient, gentle effects."

This was one of the first books I ever bought on herbal wellness when my littles were tinies and it just fed my obsession of obtaining herbal awareness.  I still reference this at times for my personal mentoring clients when time is of the essence.

BONUS!

Man's Guide to Birth by Danielle Bergum

Last but not least, a little bonus book - and free with Kindle Unlimited - though I may be a little biased on this title, is Esali Birth's Man's Guide to Birth which is a pocket-guide style summary of the holistic knowledge shared from Esali Birth Mentoring.  From conception through pregnancy, into birth, and during postpartum and early parenting - each page is a tip to follow with a quick summary.  No new parent should be without this guide, and every mentor should have this in their lending library.