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Mary's Favorite Birth Books

Updated: May 29, 2023

Hi there! I hope that everyone has had a great start to this New Year thus far. I’ve been looking forward to writing this blog post for a while now! Today’s topic is a combination of my two favorite things: birth and books.

Mary's Favorite Birth Books

I have always been the type of gal to carry stacks of books out of a library, wander around with a novel tucked into my purse, and spend hours browsing books at a used bookstore (I could spend hours discussing my favorite used bookstores, but I’ll save that for another time!). My husband groans with dismay whenever a new book arrives at our door, because I have completely overrun our bookshelves at this point. I have spent a good chunk of time over the past few years reading books dedicated to women’s health, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. I have listed my favorite books about these topics below.

You may notice a bit of an overlap with a blog post that I wrote a few months ago: “3 Great Books for Natural Birth Parents”. Physiological birth is my passion!

Links to the books listed in this post are included at the end of the page.

1. The Politics of Birth by Sheila Kitzinger

This was the first book that I read on the subject of birth, and it blew my mind. This book covers a ton of topics, and I would recommend it for anyone looking to deepen their understanding about the history of birth and current issues in the birth world. I appreciate this book because it helped me gain an understanding of the culture of medicalized birth in both Europe and the United States.

2. Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz

This is not only my favorite birth books, but one of my all-time favorite books in general. I am so glad that I read this book before attending my first physiological birth. I learned almost everything I know about the process of natural birth from this book, and I strongly encourage anyone who wants to have a natural birth to read this book. I also particularly enjoy this book because I spent several years of my early adulthood in New Mexico, and the culture of New Mexico is referenced many times in this book because the authors reside there as well.

3. Birth in Eight Cultures by Robbie Davis-Floyd and Melissa Cheyney

I love anthropology. I have always enjoyed reading books about different cultures, and I particularly enjoyed reading about birth from an anthropological perspective. This book discusses birth in Brazil, Greece, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Tanzania, and the United States. In my opinion, it is important to understand how birth works in other countries, because the current birth system in the United States is deeply flawed. The flaws in the American birth system could be resolved by implementing ideas that other cultures have about birth.

4. Reclaiming Childbirth as a Rite of Passage by Rachel Reed

Rachel Reed is a midwife as well as a phenomenal author. In this book, she explores women’s history and the cultural shift away from midwifery, among other important topics. She examines the idea that childbirth is an important rite of passage, and not an event that needs to be unnecessarily medicalized. This book also discusses the spiritual aspect of childbirth in-depth, which is a topic that is often neglected in other books about birth. I recommend that every pregnant woman read this book, and I have personally recommended this book to many of my birthworker friends.

5. Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susan Weed

Susan Weed is one of my favorite authors on the subject of herbs. She is a true wise woman, and she has a deep understanding of plants and the numerous ways that they can support women. This book contains a lot of information about plants that can support the body throughout pregnancy, labor and birth, and the postpartum period. I have had many clients ask me about natural remedies for common pregnancy ailments such as morning sickness or anemia, and I have referred to this book many times in search of answers.


The Politics of Birth

Birthing From Within

Birth in Eight Cultures

Reclaiming Childbirth as a Rite of Passage

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year


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