Quick! What’s the first thing you do when you find out you’re pregnant? You head to the library (or, more likely, Google) to look for the best books on pregnancy and birth. You need to know ALL. The. Things. about growing a freaking human being from scratch. There are SO many pregnancy books out there, it can be super overwhelming. Plus, so many of them are so basic you might feel like you’re reading the same info over and over again. Believe me. I know.
So, where’s a yoga mama to start? This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are my absolute favorite books for any mama who wants to have a mindful pregnancy and birth. If you’re looking for books to help you prepare your body, mind, and soul for the epic journey that is motherhood, these are a good jumping off point!
Read on for my picks for the best books for pregnancy and birth.
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Best Books for Pregnancy and Birth for Yoga Mamas
Yoga Mama: The Practitioner’s Guide to Prenatal Yoga is one of the most comprehensive books I’ve found all about yoga for all stages of pregnancy (broken down by trimester), birth, and the postpartum stage, too.
When I was newly pregnant the first time, I remember searching far and wide for any kind of source that offered advice on prenatal yoga for women like me. Not beginners, but women who already had a strong asana practice before pregnancy. I know that it can be a huge challenge to relax. But that’s just not the kind of challenge I was looking for. I didn’t want to do a gentle or restorative practice. I had all these new intense emotions, and I wanted to get them OUT. I wanted to move! I came up empty handed.
I was so happy to have this book as a resource and guide during my second pregnancy. It’s full of practical advice, stories from other mamas (including one from little ol’ ME in the second trimester section!), and sequences from some of the yoga teachers I respect most int he whole world.
Yoga Sadhana for Mothers: Shared Experiences of Ashtanga Yoga, Pregnancy, Birth, and Motherhood by Sharmila Desai and Anna Wise
One of the last books I read before I gave birth to my second daughter was Yoga Sadhana for Mothers. Even though I’d been through this before, I relished learning about other women’s stories and experiences. I hadn’t given a lot of thought to how women in other parts of the world and other cultures approach birth and the postpartum period. In India, for example, I learned that new mothers often live with their own mothers for as long as a year after giving birth. Grandma helps care for the baby and does chores around the house so that the new mom can get some much-needed rest. (Seriously, how do we get this SO WRONG in our culture?) Of course, the stories about the Pattabhi Jois’s family traditions and pregnancy in the Ashtanga tradition spoke to my inner yoga geek, too.
I also appreciated the section on modifying the Ashtanga Primary Series during pregnancy. I’m not an Ashtanga practitioner, but I’m all about the acknowledgement that women are still strong, capable, and want to continue a strong yoga practice during pregnancy.
I wouldn’t recommend this book to yoga novices, but it’s a great read for the yoga mama who’s been practicing for a while and isn’t interested in tabling her active practice until after her baby’s born.
I like the relatable, Ayurvedic wisdom shared in Magical Beginnings. It gives great tips for focusing not just on the health of mom and baby during pregnancy, but also how to start self-care practices that will continue to sustain the mama after the baby’s born. (If you haven’t noticed self-care for moms is something I feel pretty dang strongly about!)
I am in love with the section in the back for dads. It’s so easy to make this season of pregnancy all about the mom, but a new baby turns dad’s world upside down, too. Of course, there are things a partner can do to help ease the burden of pregnancy on the mom. But it’s important to remember that he needs to focus on self-care now, too.
Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England and Rob Horowitz
What could be better preparation for the miracle of childbirth than holding an uncomfortable yoga pose training yourself to breathe through that discomfort? For my prenatal yoga students who are planning a natural childbirth, the first thing I recommend to them is to keep up their yoga practice. (And when I say keep it up, I literally mean practice up until the moment baby’s ready to make his grand entrance into the world!)
My second recommendation is a practice I learned about from Birthing from Within: You hold an ice cube in the palm of your hand for 60 seconds (the time of a contraction) and practice different techniques to help you cope with the pain. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Holding an ice cube for 60 seconds sounds easy!” To which I would reply, “You’ve never tried it, have you?”
After a couple months of pairing the ice cube technique with the breath work, meditations, visualizations, and stretching I’d learned in my yoga practice, I felt completely prepared to have the birth I had always wanted.
This is a classic yoga book that covers the many reasons that yoga is, well, a gem for women from puberty through menopause. If you’re wondering if yoga can be safe and healthy throughout pregnancy, it should put your mind at ease that Geeta Iyengar, the daughter of the late, great Iyengar Yoga founder B.K.S Iyengar, gives it the green light.
What were some of your favorite books during your pregnancy? What about books to help you prepare for birth?