Birthing from Within by Pam England is a wonderful book written by a childbirth educator based what she has learned in her classes about all of the ideas, assumptions and beliefs we bring with us from our everyday life into the labor and birth process. Her exercises include drawing and sculpting which are a little intimidating to me since I'm not very creative, however journaling and reflecting on questions of beliefs and fears regarding childbirth and mothering is a technique I've found to be very helpful. This is now a reread for me as I bought the book while pregnant with Elisabeth but discovered while finding the photo link that there is now a companion journal you can get.
The book also includes an overview on the physiology of childbirth, breathing/relaxation techniques and a chapter on labor support for your husband or primary support person to read.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin is a sort-of update of her groundbreaking book Spiritual Midwifery. As with the original, this book begins with birth stories from the now over twenty years of attending births at the birth center in Tennessee where she and other midwives live, including now a second generation as children born at the Farm return to have their children born there too. The second half of Gaskin's book deals with the practical side of natural birthing, including how to avoid standard medical interventions such as epidurals, episiotomies and continuous monitoring. While this may not be the definitive guide to natural childbirth, it is a comfortable and supportive read for women who want to trust their bodies to do what comes naturally.
Ina May Gaskin is one of the revered 'wise woman' of midwifery and I have enjoyed immersing myself in her deep belief in a woman ability to birth, and while I find aspects on her life on an intentional community a bit out there for me I greatly respect that part of their mission at the birth center has been to give shelter and care to woman who have lost housing and family support because of an unexpected pregnancy that they wish to continue. The woman are cared for through the birth and then either helped to build a life with the baby or find an adoptive family. In the book Gaskin estimates that 300 woman have taken them up on this offer since 1974.