17 books like Birth Matters

By Ina May Gaskin,

Here are 17 books that Birth Matters fans have personally recommended if you like Birth Matters. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812

Edward G. Gray Author Of Tom Paine's Iron Bridge: Building a United States

From my list on ingenuity and innovation in the American Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in the American Revolution began with a college course on the French Revolution. I was enthralled by the drama of it all. Being the impressionable late adolescent that I was, I naturally explained to my professor, a famous French historian of the French Revolution, that I wanted to dedicate my life to the study of this fascinating historical period. My professor urged me to reconsider. He suggested I look at a less well-known Revolution, the one British colonists undertook a decade earlier. I started reading books about the American Revolution. Now, forty years on, I’m still enthralled by the astonishing creative energy of this period in American history. 

Edward's book list on ingenuity and innovation in the American Revolution

Edward G. Gray Why did Edward love this book?

Paine, Copley, and Priestley were all beneficiaries of formal institutional associations, mostly through the voluntary scientific and art associations, the American Philosophical Society in America and the Royal Society and Royal Academy in Britain. Martha Ballard, a midwife living during the early years of the American Republic in Maine (at the time a province of Massachusetts), had no formal associations but she did have deep and abiding affiliations. If not with elite academies, sanctioned by kings, and populated by periwigged gentlemen, then with family and community.

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A Midwife’s Tale remains the finest study ever written about the generative power of family and community in the early history of the American republic. Ballard’s meticulous diary, nearly 10,000 entries, afforded Ulrich access to the full, grueling realities of this remarkable woman’s life—through her own family’s trials, which included the births of her nine children, and the more than eight…

By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Midwife's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • Drawing on the diaries of one woman in eighteenth-century Maine, "A truly talented historian unravels the fascinating life of a community that is so foreign, and yet so similar to our own" (The New York Times Book Review).

Between 1785 and 1812 a midwife and healer named Martha Ballard kept a diary that recorded her arduous work (in 27 years she attended 816 births) as well as her domestic life in Hallowell, Maine. On the basis of that diary, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich gives us an intimate and densely imagined portrait, not only of the industrious and…


Book cover of Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

Wendy Kline Author Of Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth

From my list on the history of childbirth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a history professor at Purdue University and the author of several articles and three books that focus on controversies surrounding women’s reproductive health. I have also appeared on national television and radio, most recently on the PBS documentary, American Experience (the Eugenics Crusade), as well as the Vox/Netflix documentary “sex, explained.”

Wendy's book list on the history of childbirth

Wendy Kline Why did Wendy love this book?

I could not put this book down. Vincent is a licensed home birth midwife in California, and Baby Catcher represents her accounts of many of her clients’ births. Her stories capture the diversity of experiences, the fears and joys of each mother who has opted for an out-of-hospital birth, and the beauty of bringing new life into the world. I have assigned this book in college courses and students love it; they come out angry at how broken our system is when it comes to maternity care.

By Peggy Vincent,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Baby Catcher as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A former nurse chronicles her journey into midwifery, from her dissatisfaction with formulaic delivery room procedures in the 1960s to her eventual career as a "baby catcher," and chronicles her diverse birth experiences, the women she has encountered along the way, and role of midwifery in the Unit


Book cover of Make Room for Daddy: The Journey from Waiting Room to Birthing Room

Wendy Kline Author Of Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth

From my list on the history of childbirth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a history professor at Purdue University and the author of several articles and three books that focus on controversies surrounding women’s reproductive health. I have also appeared on national television and radio, most recently on the PBS documentary, American Experience (the Eugenics Crusade), as well as the Vox/Netflix documentary “sex, explained.”

Wendy's book list on the history of childbirth

Wendy Kline Why did Wendy love this book?

I was torn between this and Walzer’s earlier book, Brought to Bed: Childrearing in America, 1750-1950. They are both wonderful books on the history of childbirth written by a leading historian. I chose Make Room for Daddy because it fills an important gap in our understanding of the transformation of birth. Here, we learn about the changing role of fathers (and expectant fathers), and their influence on hospital birth practices. She draws on a rich array of sources (letters, journals, interviews, and popular media) to illustrate how fathers became more involved in the birth experience between the 1940s and the 1980s.

By Judith Walzer Leavitt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Make Room for Daddy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using fathers' first-hand accounts from letters, journals, and personal interviews along with hospital records and medical literature, Judith Walzer Leavitt offers a new perspective on the changing role of expectant fathers from the 1940s to the 1980s. She shows how, as men moved first from the hospital waiting room to the labour room in the 1960s, and then on to the delivery and birthing rooms in the 1970s and 1980s, they became progressively more involved in the birth experience and their influence over events expanded. With careful attention to power and privilege, Leavitt charts not only the increasing involvement of…


Book cover of Call the Midwife

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Food of Love: Cooking Up a Life Across Gender, Class and Race

From my list on memoirs which help us understand the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

For The Oxford Times, I wrote the lives of 120 inspirational people from five continents. My 3 novels are inspired by real lives including the charity founder Nancy Mudenyo Hunt and the artist Qu Leilei, the hero of Andy Cohen’s film Beijing Spring. Stories of 30 not-famous choir members in I Love you All show that we are each unique. My memoir has a particular purpose. I dug deep into my life and my husband Atam’s to reveal the intersection of gender class and race—the barriers that shaped my life and how Atam and I tried to transcend them.

Sylvia's book list on memoirs which help us understand the world

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

I was born in my parent’s house which, like all in our area, had no central heating. That was the reality of giving birth in the forties and fifties in England. Jennifer’s memoir of midwifery in working-class Poplar, in the docklands of London, gave rise to one of the most popular TV series. The BBC has taken the story beyond Jennifer’s memoir but the tone is the same. The TV series, like the book, tackles difficult social, cultural, and economic issues, with insight, compassion, and humour. I aimed to tackle issues of class, gender, and race in my memoir in a similar tone.

By Jennifer Worth,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Call the Midwife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The highest-rated drama in BBC history, Call the Midwife will delight fans of Downton Abbey

Viewers everywhere have fallen in love with this candid look at post-war London. In the 1950s, twenty-two-year-old Jenny Lee leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in London's East End slums. While delivering babies all over the city, Jenny encounters a colorful cast of women—from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives, to the woman with twenty-four children who can't speak English, to the prostitutes of the city's seedier side.

An unfortgettable story of motherhood, the bravery of…


Book cover of Spiritual Midwifery

Robbie Davis-Floyd Author Of Birth as an American Rite of Passage

From my list on childbirth in the US from a childbirth expert.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a medical/reproductive anthropologist, and my passion for this topic stems from my own two birth experiences: one was an unnecessary cesarean which left me with PTSD, and the other was a vaginal birth at home, which left me feeling empowered—if I could do that, I could do anything! After my first birth, I started asking other women about their birth experiences, and came up with the question that guided my PhD research and became the subject of my first book, Birth as an American Rite of Passage. Given that birth is so unique for every woman, why is it treated in such standardized, non-evidence-based ways in US hospitals? 

Robbie's book list on childbirth in the US from a childbirth expert

Robbie Davis-Floyd Why did Robbie love this book?

I love this book because it was the very first to talk about spirit and energy in the birth process. In it, world-famous midwife Ina May Gaskin describes how she learned about births from attending them, later studying with a doctor. She describes many births on the farm in which she and her midwifery colleagues learned that birth is a spiritual process that is deeply affected by the energy in the room. They learned to "suss out" that energy and to send people with negative energy out of the birthing room. And they learned that if you change the energy in positive ways, you also change the outcome of the birth in positive ways. In other words, change the energy = change the outcome!

By Ina May Gaskin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spiritual Midwifery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Here is the 4th edition of the classic book on home birth that introduced a whole generation of women to the concept of natural childbirth. Back again are even more amazing birthing tales, including those from women who were babies in earlier editions and stories about Old Order Amish women attended by the Farm midwives.

Also new is information about the safety of techniques routinely used in hospitals during and after birth, information on postpartum depression and maternal death, and recent statistics on births managed by The Farm Midwives.

From the amazing birthing tales to care of the newborn, Spiritual…


Book cover of Listen to Me Good: The Life Story of an Alabama Midwife

Tracey Rose Peyton Author Of Night Wherever We Go

From my list on race and reproductive rights.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a fiction writer interested in exploring big historical moments through the lives of ordinary people. The extensive fight for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy for women, specifically black women, has long been a concern, admittedly for selfish reasons. This ever-shifting terrain—from eugenics and sterilization to coerced birth control and the rise in maternal mortality rates—was initially perplexing to me and it took a great deal of reading to make sense of it. Such research not only informed my historical novel, Night Wherever We Go, but much of how I understand the world. I’d argue one can’t fully comprehend the current abortion rights moment without understanding how race and reproduction are so deeply intertwined.

Tracey's book list on race and reproductive rights

Tracey Rose Peyton Why did Tracey love this book?

This account of Smith’s lauded 35-year career as a midwife in rural Alabama is fascinating.

What I appreciate about this book most is how it maps out the growing tensions that developed between African-American lay midwives and the medical establishment, once the Department of Labor began to regulate midwifery practices in the early twentieth century.

From increased scrutinization and criminalization of folk traditions, like medicinal teas and oil massages, licensed midwives with clinical training found themselves hamstrung by increasing regulation, until they were pushed out of the field altogether in the late 1970s.

The vacuum of maternal healthcare left in their wake has been devastating. Such that, we’re still seeing repercussions to this day. 

By Margaret Charles Smith, Linda Janet Holmes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Listen to Me Good as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Margaret Charles Smith, a ninety-one-year-old Alabama midwife, has thousands of birthing stories to tell. Sifting through nearly five decades of providing care for women in rural Greene County, she relates the tales that capture the life-and-death struggle of the birthing experience and the traditions, pharmacopeia, and spiritual attitudes that influenced her practice. She debunks images of the complacent southern “granny” midwife and honors the determination, talent, and complexity of midwifery.

Fascinating to read, this book is part of the new genre of writing that recognizes the credibility of midwives who have emerged from their own communities and were educated through…


Book cover of Muslim Midwives: The Craft of Birthing in the Premodern Middle East

Uriel Simonsohn Author Of Female Power and Religious Change in the Medieval Near East

From my list on women in medieval Near Eastern history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of Muslim – non-Muslim relations in medieval Islam. In all of my publications I've been concerned with the social intersections of different religious communities in the medieval Islamic world, whether through human agency or via institutional arrangements. My goal has been to de-center Islamic history by approaching it from its margins. Hence the choice to study the role of women as agents of religious change in my last monograph Female Power and Religious Change in the Medieval Near East. In this book I address two historical questions which I've always been passionate about, namely the Islamization of the Near East and the place of women in pre-modern Near Eastern societies. 

Uriel's book list on women in medieval Near Eastern history

Uriel Simonsohn Why did Uriel love this book?

Giladi's Muslim Midwives takes the reader into the hidden layers of the domicile; an intimate space, where only few could participate in one of the most dramatic moments, if not the most of them, in a human's life – birth.

Midwives, although biologically apart, were assigned with a crucial place within the household, thus assuming capacities that by far exceeded their formal tasks within their respective communities.

By Avner Giladi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Muslim Midwives as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book reconstructs the role of midwives in medieval to early modern Islamic history through a careful reading of a wide range of classical and medieval Arabic sources. The author casts the midwife's social status in premodern Islam as a privileged position from which she could mediate between male authority in patriarchal society and female reproductive power within the family. This study also takes a broader historical view of midwifery in the Middle East by examining the tensions between learned medicine (male) and popular, medico-religious practices (female) from early Islam into the Ottoman period and addressing the confrontation between traditional…


Book cover of Virgin River

Marie Jones Author Of Those We Trust

From my list on leave you breathless with love, danger, and suspense.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love romance, a true romantic from the day I was born. I also love crime/thriller/twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat and wanting to turn the page. As a writer, it was the most natural choice to combine all of these to bring to you as a reader love, passion, danger, shady criminal underworld, and jaw-dropping cliffhangers mixed in with twists you never saw coming. A love story that has you hopelessly entwined with them. A beautiful backdrop of the highlands of Scotland that creates its own unique story –mystical, mighty, and carrying its own hidden dangers.

Marie's book list on leave you breathless with love, danger, and suspense

Marie Jones Why did Marie love this book?

Quite simply, Robyn is a masterclass at writing beautiful romances and nothing comes better than her Virgin River series. 

Her characters are full of depth and conflicts, and the setting of the stories are in beautiful landscapes I want to travel to. There are many great sub-stories to be drawn happily into and of course, who can resist a HEA?

By Robyn Carr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Virgin River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Netflix Original Series

Read the book that started it all!

13 Million Copies Sold

Sometimes all you need is a fresh start

When recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees an advert for a midwife in the remote town of Virgin River, she decides this is the perfect place to escape her heartache.

However, her hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving: the cabin is uninhabitable, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. But when a tiny baby is abandoned on a front porch, Mel must decide whether to stay and help or…


Book cover of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

Robbie Davis-Floyd Author Of Birth as an American Rite of Passage

From my list on childbirth in the US from a childbirth expert.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a medical/reproductive anthropologist, and my passion for this topic stems from my own two birth experiences: one was an unnecessary cesarean which left me with PTSD, and the other was a vaginal birth at home, which left me feeling empowered—if I could do that, I could do anything! After my first birth, I started asking other women about their birth experiences, and came up with the question that guided my PhD research and became the subject of my first book, Birth as an American Rite of Passage. Given that birth is so unique for every woman, why is it treated in such standardized, non-evidence-based ways in US hospitals? 

Robbie's book list on childbirth in the US from a childbirth expert

Robbie Davis-Floyd Why did Robbie love this book?

I love this book because the first part of it is filled with wonderful birth stories that show how world-famous midwife Ina May Gaskin and her midwifery colleagues at the Farm learned how to attend births by helping the birth energy to flow untrammeled. And the second part is an excellent guide to navigating the over-medicalization of childbirth in the US. Drawing on her 30+ years of experience, Ina May shares the benefits and joys of natural childbirth by showing women how to trust in the ancient wisdom of their bodies for a healthy and fulfilling birthing experience. Based on the women-centered Midwifery Model of Care, this book gives expectant mothers comprehensive information on everything from the all-important mind-body-spirit connection to how to give birth without technological intervention.

By Ina May Gaskin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ina May's Guide to Childbirth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What you need to know to have the best birth experience for you.

Drawing upon her thirty-plus years of experience, Ina May Gaskin, the nation’s leading midwife, shares the benefits and joys of natural childbirth by showing women how to trust in the ancient wisdom of their bodies for a healthy and fulfilling birthing experience. Based on the female-centered Midwifery Model of Care, Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth gives expectant mothers comprehensive information on everything from the all-important mind-body connection to how to give birth without technological intervention.

Filled with inspiring birth stories and practical advice, this invaluable resource…


Book cover of Unassisted Childbirth

Lynn M. Griesemer Author Of Take Back Your Birth: Inspiration for Expectant Moms

From my list on confidence for natural childbirth and homebirth.

Why am I passionate about this?

After giving birth in the hospital four times in what I experienced as “assembly-line obstetrics,” I decided that my fifth child would be intentionally born at home with just me and my husband present. It forever changed our lives and I’ve been an advocate since 1998, with the publication of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love. I’m considered a pioneer in the unassisted birth community. Women are disappointed and disillusioned with their birth experiences and I help put to rest the idea of a painful, discouraging birth experience, replacing it with the manifestation of your inner desires. A satisfying and successful birth is within reach.

Lynn's book list on confidence for natural childbirth and homebirth

Lynn M. Griesemer Why did Lynn love this book?

Unassisted Childbirth shows how birth can be straightforward and relatively painless if we remove technological and psychological interference. Laura is considered the pioneer of “UC,” Unassisted Childbirth, also known as Freebirth. She states that fear is a main culprit and the body’s reaction is commonly fight or flight, sending women into long, difficult labors and deliveries. 

My husband and I appreciate Laura’s work in the unassisted birth area because it is inspiring and logical. She has encouraged thousands of couples for over 35 years in the pursuit of an unhindered, natural birth.

By Laura Kaplan Shanley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unassisted Childbirth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

According to Laura Kaplan Shanley, a renowned leader in the natural-birth movement, childbirth is inherently safe and relatively painless — provided we refrain from physical or psychological interference. The problems often associated with birth can be traced to three main factors: poverty, unnecessary medical intervention, and fear. When these causes are eliminated, most women can give birth either alone or with the help of a partner, friends, or family.This third edition of Unassisted Childbirth leads with a history of childbirth and then describes how most deliveries occur today, detailing why these processes don't serve mothers or babies. The information in…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in natural childbirth, childbirth, and home birth?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about natural childbirth, childbirth, and home birth.

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