May 2018

Birth Happens: Reading Can Help

By Laura Maxson, LM

Birth Happens-Reading Can Help is one of a series of ongoing, collaborative projects from Birth Happens Santa Cruz. Posters of recommended books for expectant parents will be featured on a monthly basis, with the first poster featuring recommendations by Birth Network of Santa Cruz County. Their poster of five recommended books can be seen during the month of May at Bookshop Santa Cruz.

Birth Happens is a series of ongoing projects organized by three local midwives, Elizabeth Yznaga, Linda Walsh and Kate Bowland. The three, with the help of other volunteers, have brought us Midwives at the MAH, an interactive exhibit on the history of birth in Santa Cruz County and “Tell us a Good Birth Story” a chance to share and learn from the stories and experiences of others around birth.

The Birth Happens group has plans for an exhibit on the history of birth in the Santa Cruz Mountains at the San Lorenzo Valley Museum, more Tell Us a Good Birth Story opportunities, and the anticipation of a book (or two) resulting from these collaborations.

Birth Network of Santa Cruz County’s recommended book list is certainly not all-inclusive at just five. There are many options and opinions out there for navigating the journey to parenthood – so many, in fact, that it can be a bit overwhelming. Preparing for childbirth is a process that can benefit greatly from a few good books and Birth Network has given parents a place to begin.

The Birth Partner, A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and Other Labor Companions by Penny Simkin, is newly updated in the 2017 version. Simkin is a well-known childbirth educator and doula who has written many books on birth in her 50 years involved in childbirth. The Birth Partner is a unique resource in that it is perfectly suited for the birth bag. Anyone helping to support at a labor can pick up this book and find helpful tips for just about any scenario. A must read as preparation by parents-to-be, it can also be handed to a sister or friend at a birth to quickly find ways to be supportive or troubleshoot a specific problem.

Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation, by Pam England and Rob Horowitz, comes from the childbirth classes of the same name. There are many small chapters featuring stories, projects and information for the expecting parent. From ancient wisdom to high-tech interventions, Birthing From Within helps with exploration of options and feelings as opposed to instructing what to do.

The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger is a classic. Although Kitzinger is no longer with us, her words and expertise live on to educate and inspire new generation of families. While the recommendation could easily read “anything by Sheila Kitzinger” The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth is a great place to start.  Filled with photos, diagrams and words of wisdom, parents will find reassurance and a clear understanding of the process of childbirth.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by midwife Ina May Gaskin is an important read. Pulling from decades of experience as a midwife on a commune in rural Tennessee, Gaskin knows how bodies work in nature to give birth. Recognizing that most births are not taking place on a commune, she offers parents a mix of birth stories, science and healthy appreciation of the birth process. With a focus on the often-underestimated role of hormones and the environment on childbirth, parents are given tools to begin to shape plans for decisions about care provider, place of birth, and other important options. 

Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family by La Leche League International,‎ Diane Wiessinger,‎ Diana West,‎ Linda J. Smith,‎ and Teresa Pitman. Sweet Sleep recognizes that the breastfed baby and parent have specific sleep considerations. Presenting current research, along with La Leche League’s decades of experience with breastfeeding families, this book offers a close look at different sleeping arrangements and sleep expectations. Parents, bombarded with “never ever” safe sleep messages, can end up in unintentionally dangerous sleep situations. This book provides the reasoning behind current recommendations, along with ways to evaluate each individual family’s risk. Parents can feel better informed about making sleep decisions.

Books play an important role in opening a dialog and creating conversation around childbirth.

Birth Happens group – [email protected]
Book Shop Santa Cruz

Meet the Doulas –  Saturday May 26th 4-6pm
Birth Network upcoming events page –

Happy Mothers Day, May 13 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *