Recommended Books and Films About Childbearing

by Jane Pincus

A note from the author: As a co-founder of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective and co-author of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” through all its incarnations, I’ve worked to help make childbearing more woman and family centered.  In 1998 I wrote an article, A History and Critique of Childbearing Books, and then, between 2004 and 2010, I wrote a series of book and film reviews for the journal Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care.

While some of the books and films discussed in these articles are no longer available or in print, the articles contain a history of childbearing and discuss a way of looking at pregnancy and birth which I believe is still useful today. Many thanks to the publisher of Birth,* who has been kind enough to let us post the reviews here.

  • A History and Critique of Childbearing Books (1998)
  • A review of “Laboring Under An Illusion: Mass Media Childbirth vs. The Real Thing,” a film by Vicki Elson (February 2010)
  • A review of “Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret,” a film by Debra Pascali-Bonaro (September 2009)
  • A review of “Lady’s Hands, Lion’s Heart: A Midwife’s Saga” by Carol Leonard (May 2009)
  • A review of “The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions” by Penny Simkin (March 2009)
  • A review of “Evidence-Based Care for Normal Labour and Birth: A Guide for Midwives” by Dennis Walsh (August 2008)
  • A review of “Caesarean: Just Another Way of Birth?” by Rosemary Mander (February 2008)
  • A review of “Born in the U.S.A.: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First” by Marsden Wagner (May 2007)
  • A review of “Birth Crisis” by Sheila Kitzinger (February 2007)
  • A review of “The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth With Confidence” by Judith Lothian and Charlotte DeVries (November 2005)
  • A review of “The Medical Delivery Business: Health Reform, Childbirth, and the Economic Order” by Barbara Bridgman Perkins (November 2004)

*Birth has drawn an invaluable portrait of national and international childbirth concerns over the past 35 years. Its editorials, studies, media reviews, news briefs and critical comments continue to provide a huge amount of information for practitioners, health researchers, childbirth teachers and activists, and laypeople. You can find information about subscribing to the journal here.