The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth
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The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  1,141 ratings  ·  128 reviews
Prepare for a safe and joyful birth-with the help of America's foremost baby and childcare experts Since women enjoy more birthing options today than ever before, the path toward a safe and satisfying birth can be fraught with important decisions. Planning, understanding the resources available to you, and developing your own birthing philosophy can make all the difference...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published February 1st 1994 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 1994)
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Misconceptions by Naomi WolfBreastfeeding Made Simple by Kathleen A. Kendall-TackettPregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Penny SimkinThe Birth Partner by Penny SimkinNurturing the Family by Jacqueline Kelleher
Postpartum Doula DONA Required Reading
30th out of 35 books — 7 voters
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May GaskinThe Baby Book by William SearsThe Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci GoerTaking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni WeschlerSpiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
Books for Expectant Parents
131st out of 175 books — 111 voters


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Rachel
Another really helpful book--in fact, I would say that this one is the most comprehensive in terms of covering medical, practical, and emotional aspects of birth. If you only read one, I would choose this book for that reason.

There were just a couple things that bothered me about this book. The first was what seemed to me a ridiculous avoidance of the word "pain" in relation to laboring. I understand the intent--most pregnant women (myself included) are inundated with horrific stories of excruc...more
Ellen
May 17, 2010 Ellen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in having a natural birth
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked this book out because I have a number of friends who are parents and are fans of the Sears books and also because I wasn't able to take a childbirth class and wanted some practical tips for relaxation and natural pain relief during birth. A lot of the books I looked at said things like "use the relaxation techniques from your childbirth class" rather than explaining some of the techniques themselves. This book offered a variety of suggestions for making an unmedicated birth more comfort...more
David Taitelbaum
The first question I had when I picked up this book was "can a book that's 20 years old still be worth reading?" I mean, let's be honest:

-Ace of Base dominated the music charts in 1994
-Spandex bike shorts were a thing
-Men were from Mars, Women were from Venus

So yeah, wild and crazy times. It turns out Dr. Sears' words of wisdom on birthing babies has stood the test of time. I've read where other people said if you were to read one book on childbirth this would be the book they would recommend. F...more
Deirdre Keating
I loved this book in 2001, before I gave birth. After giving birth, I found Sears' description about how a certain position can stop pain during back labor to be laughable. I also think much of the angst I felt about having an emergency c-section to be a result of having read this book and being so focused on a drug-free birth. Babies are resilient and having a healthy birth is so much more important than having a "Sears" birth.
Yulia Loschilina
Книга в духе Сирсов - все будет хорошо, все будет хорошо, все будет хорошо на множество страниц. Большинство вещей к нам неприменимо - так как максимум, что можно сделать у нас - выбрать роддом. Ну или и за врача заплатить, но это не вписывается в мою философию (врач не будет со мной, как в штатах, на протяжении беременности сидеть за ручку и в родах все равно будет чужим человеком). Еще я не очень люблю и даже совсем не люблю теорию заговора, что все врачи хотят только одного - всунуть в вас по...more
Jon
I feel I now have a good grasp of what a baby is and where they come from.
Kylin Larsson
This is my favorite of all the books about pregnancy I've read so far. Written by the famous Dr. Sears and his wife (an R.N.), this book covers this history of birthing in the Western world, how things are done now, and literally everything a woman needs to consider about her birth experience.

Because this couple has gone through eight births themselves, because they each have a medical background, and because they advocate viewing birth as a natural experience and not as a medical experience (ex...more
Karen
I heartily endorse Dr. Sears' entire parenting library, but this was the first one I read, so I'll review him here. Dr. William Sears is a world-renowned pediatrician and father of 8/9 children, while his wife Martha (who co-authors many of the books) is an RN, childbirth educator and lactation consultant. Between the two of them, they've got it covered. After reading this particular book back in 2001, I decided to go with natural childbirth for my labor for both of my children. I feel like this...more
Julia
Overall I really liked this book. While it is a little more anti-medical than I am, I think a lot of that is related to the fact that it was written in the 90's and a lot has changed in terms of hospital policy in the past few years. And at least it is less anti hospital than most birth books I found. My first child's birth was a very positive experience including an epidural and I decided I would like the experience of a natural birth. I searched for a book that could support my 3 main goals: F...more
Kendra
I read this book the last time I was pregnant and just reread it now that I am pregnant again. I am a fan of Dr. Sear's attachment parenting beliefs and usually find him to be a helpful source of information for parents who want to do things the gentle, natural way. This book gave me a lot of useful information regarding childbirth choices and interventions.

One thing that bothered me was that they wrote responses to various women's descriptions of labor. Any woman that described it as painful h...more
Evelyn
LOVE this book! Found it to be thorough but easy to read, with a loving tone that encourages women to be informed about their birth options and be proud of the choices and decisions they make regarding their birthing plans. Includes a beautiful section of birth stories that vary from the all-natural earth mother having the perfect home waterbirth, to the woman who knew she wanted an epidural in the hospital and was even open to a c-section. All these birth stories are presented in a positive and...more
Kathleen
I thought this book was well written and quite comprehensive, covering everything from the history of birth to birth plans and even includes birth stories from different types of births. I especially liked that this book was non-judgmental when discussing medication during labor. The information was well-presented, allowing the parents-to-be to make informed decisions instead of feeling pressured into a birth they do not want. The reader is continually encouraged to figure out their own birth ph...more
Oriyah Nitkin
This book totally delivers on its promises! Childbirth is challenging and a situation of extreme vulnerability, and it's so important to go in informed and prepared to maximize one's chances of a positive experience. The book is informative, thorough, and realistic, and really equips the reader to grab her childbirth experience by the reigns and steer, as well as to know when to let go and let others drive.

Being an advocate for yourself in childbirth, and having a good support system with a simi...more
Jessica
I have found most of Dr. Sears' books very informative. I am sure I will use SOME of the advice for my baby's birth. However, I will say, that if you are trying to convince people to do natural childbirth, you might want to leave out the quotes from real women describing how unbearably painful birth is. Just saying. ;-)
Stevie
Thanks to this man, I had courage to have a baby the way God intended! I think he is THE GREATEST advocate of maternal / baby health and it alarms me how many doctors scare patients, instead of empower and educate them! Thanks for telling it straight about birth, hospitals, circumscion, ultrasounds, the importance of nursing a human child with human milk, unnessecary medical interventions, and how a healthy woman should trust her body and a competent mid-wife! Obviously not one of those 'slice a...more
Melanie Terry
This is by far the best pregnancy book I have read so far. It was published in 1994 so I thought in 2013 it would be a little dated, but the information is fabulous. This book is the most informative book about childbirth that I have found.
Rhonda
I wish there was a natural child birth book out there that didn't make doctors out to be such evil entities. I think it would do wonders for helping moms to tell their doctors they want to have an unmedicated birth without there being skepticism. That being said, this book wasn't completely like that & it did do a good job at explaining medical intervention options should you wish to go that route which I didn't have the benefit of knowing about last time. This time I feel a little more prep...more
Katie
I really liked this book and after reading I felt very informed and prepared to encounter a natural childbirth. However, after reading how Marth had such easy labors, especially with her first few children, I was a little skeptical. I had a long, difficult labor with my first child and I scoffed at the amount of time Martha Sears spent huffing and puffing. Her accounts made me wonder if she knew how to help women with long, difficult labors. But then I reached the end of the book, in which sever...more
Jess
This is a definite must read before the birth of your first baby! I found a lot of the information in this book helpful in me having two successful natural (drug-free) births. The book does focus on natural drug-free child birth methods. It helps you get into a mind-set that you need to let your body do the work and not fight it. I do understand that it does not like to mention ‘pain’ in the book, but I still found that okay. When I had my children I myself would not consider that I was necessar...more
Julia
Another pregnancy reread. I am a big fan of the Sears family as I tend to agree with much of their parenting philosophy. This is a very informative book with details on different medications and their side-effects, ways to lessen the pain-fear connection during childbirth (Is there a such thing as a painless childbirth?? Very skeptical on this one), ideas for relaxation and what to expect during each stage of labor. It is filled with helpful charts and diagrams. I tend to agree with the Sears' n...more
Megan
My favorite book on birthing- and I have read a lot- while it leans towards a drug free birth I felt that it gave all facts on all kinds of birthing experiences listing risks as well as reasons why intervention would be warranted. I really felt like the tone of this book was the most un-biased birth book on the market. Most books are either written to talk you into a natural birth or else only talk about general hospital policies never mentioning other options. William and his wife both "talk" i...more
Kate
A great book to review everything about your labor, from pre-labor signs to labor positions. Be aware before diving into this book that the Drs. Sears are very earthy and hands-off when it comes to all things baby. So, some things bothered me, but in general, it was great. I even used one of their positions to help my baby turn from the time I was sent home from the hospital during labor to the time I delivered. It was a miracle to me! So, it's one book I own and don't ever plan on giving away u...more
Allyson
I first read this over seven years ago for the birth of my first child. Reading it again now as a refresher. The first time around it gave me confidence that I could have the kind of birth I wanted. Every time I got nervous I just grabbed this book and started reading again.

On the advice of my doula, I have stopped reading anything about birth and pregnancy now that I'm in week 37. Re-reading this book has helped me remember a lot of little details that I'd forgotten, especially things that did...more
Tara
This has been a great helpful read for me. This book has explained things much better than anything else I've read. I wish I had had my mother read this instead of Ina Mae Garten's book, which is WAYYYY too hippy for her, and made her really resistant to our decision to do homebirth. These are Harvard grad Doctors who advocate home birth, in certain circumstances. Way more legit to someone like my mom I think.
I wonder how I will feel about this book after my own birthing experience....but for no...more
Samantha Penrose
I love that a member of the medical field is urging patients to think for themselves and define what their own birthing expirience should be as opposed to just knuckling under to what the hospital wants you to do!
There is an interesting section about the risks and benefits of ultrasound and doppler usage....As a doc, and man of science he is all for it, as a father and grandfather, he is a little leary of the potential risks outweighing the benefits.....A wonderful book!
This book covers it all.....more
Carol
This is a very good natural birthing book. It strongly advocates having control in the delivery room and natural child birth in general. It offers lots of ideas on birthing positions and communication that are very helpful. I read it before my last child birth and would have loved to have read it before the first two. Abby (my daughter) has read this book at least 8 times, and she loves it. Every time she reads it she wants to tell me something new about a chapter. She even wanted to go over dif...more
Melynna
I would definitely recommend reading this while pregnant or even before. This book doesn't try to be unbiased -- rather, it takes a stand on things but still allows for people choosing something else, something that a lot of books fail at. This book provides invaluable information for anyone who wants to take an active part in their care and make decisions based on what they want and is best for them instead of the convenience and routines of the hospital or doctor. Even if you don't think you'l...more
Cathy Heinz
Very good overview of the birth process. Obviously it is geared more towards natural birth, but does talk about how using medical pain management can help some labors when mom is exhausted and labor is stalled. Although obviously the closest to natural is what it advocates, but gives talk of alternatives. I think it would be even better if it went more into the emotional parts of cesarean sections.
Kara
I think this was possibly the most encouraging, balanced book on birth I read (and I read quite a few!). I read it during my first pregnancy. It explains the process so clearly and presents a balanced view of the various medical interventions...it doesn't go to the extremes that many books in this genre go to to defend or excoriate drugs, episiotomies, induction, etc. It definitely presents birth as a natural process that should be as free of any unnecessary interventions as possible and helps t...more
Kelly Cooke
i read parts of this book somewhat obsessively the closer i got to my due date (which ended up being the day i gave birth). it is an all-around great book, but what i appreciated most was the breakdown of the phases of birth. it was important to me that i know what would be coming.

dr. sears, like ina may gaskin, has a very healthy attitude toward birth, allowing you to expect a normal, healthy birth with minimal intervention. he also covers many possible interventions which, obviously, are some...more
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Dr. Sears, or Dr. Bill as his "little patients" call him, is the father of eight children as well as the author of over 30 books on childcare. Dr. Bill is an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Dr. Bill received his pediatric training at Harvard Medical School's Children's Hospital in Boston and The Hospital for Sick Children in T...more
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