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Mother and Baby

"My Husband has left me, I have no-one I can turn to for help, what do I do now …"

Books/Reading List

Page Last Updated: 05-Mar-2015

If you have a title to add to these pages, please contact Jules with your suggestions and the reasons why you found the book helpful.

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Books Recommended by Mums who have contacted the BTA

Buy This Book

Recommended by Maureen
Choosing Caesarean by Pauline Hull and Dr Magnus Murphy

This book is an absolute must read for all those who want to be fully informed about the risks and benefits of caesarean section. It is also extremely well researched and challenges the prevailing orthodoxy that a caesarean birth is something to be feared or always avoided.  The risks of vaginal birth are different to caesarean birth but not necessarily higher or lower. The right choice is therefore going to be a personal one depending on individual risk factors and  how women appraise those risks. The chapter on the 'Politics of Birth' is both fascinating and shocking. It  rightly challenges the ideology that has been allowed to creep into maternity services.  The demonisation of caesareans as the option for women 'too posh too push' is discussed and  examples of research bias are revealed. This is a ground breaking work which every pregnant woman should read.


Buy This Book

Recommended by Danielle
Coping with Post-trauma Stress (Overcoming Common Problems) by Frank Parkinson

"It's a very good book, written in plain english and easy to understand and whilst it does have a list of examples of traumatic events the author does state that it is not exhaustive and what is deemed a traumatic event can greatly vary from one person to another.  As a sufferer of Post Natal PTSD, I found this very comforting as other PTSD books I have read only list the obvious things and it makes you feel a bit 'excluded' if that makes sense."

Recommended by Maureen Treadwell of the BTA
Caesarean Birth: A Positive Approach to Preparation and Recovery
Leigh East

This is one of the most balanced books on caesarean section that I have ever read. It is practical, evidence based and unique in that it looks at the caesarean issue from all the perspectives; those who want a caesarean; those who want to avoid one and those who have had one or will need one. It examines the physical and emotional dimensions and provides invaluable and detailed information on the risks of caesarean versus vaginal birth and how
to recover quickly.

An absolute must read because as Leigh East, the author, points out in Chapter 2 'a caesarean is the possible outcome of every

Recommended by Rebecca
The Child, the Family and the outside World by DW Winnicott

"I found this book helpful because it reinforces many of the beliefs I had subconsciously but had not been able to express - things like the mother really does know best and the family should assist in her efforts to bond with the baby etc."

Birth Crisis
Buy This Book

Birth Crisis by Sheila Kitzinger

Reviewed by Helen
"I read this book in one sitting the afternoon it arrived, waiting desperately for my toddler to fall asleep so I could read it in peace. Just reading the Contents page gave reassurance that the book spoke about the issues that were troubling me, and would provide some much-needed help with sorting through the confused thoughts that I have. On reading further I was not disappointed, but comforted, cheered, consoled, and strengthened by turns. I felt that I was not the odd one out, and was allowed and perfectly justified in feeling the way I did.
There were a few sticky moments of panic reading some of the stories, but all in all, I found this book a huge relief to read. Well recommended."

Reviewed by Sarah
"I did not find this book helpful at all. In my view the book approaches birth trauma from the viewpoint that natural birth is best and that doctors are to be avoided. It makes medics sound hell bent on interfering with 'nature' and taking control of the birth from the woman. Given my own birth experience, which I really struggled to get over, this was very unhelpful and in my case also wrong. If I had done this I would be dead and my baby also. I think this book just proves the need for every woman to be treated individually and to make her own choices about how she gives birth. There can never be a one-size-fits-all when it comes to giving birth, although you wouldn't know it after reading this book."

Recommended by Helen
Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields (Rating ***)

"Reassurance that it isn't about how pretty, famous, and rich you are- you can still suffer PND. Sadly familiar accounts of the real, shocking feelings that arrive in place of the fairytale ones you expected (contentment, joy, mellow love for your baby etc). "
Recommended by Helen
Feelings After Birth by Heather Welford (Rating **)

"This book has good explanations of why you might be feeling the way you do, and this is a relief when you're very confused, but it doesn't really answer the one question we all want to know; "When will I get better?"; this is left to the associations listed at the back, together with your family and friends."

Suggested by Helen
Coping with Postnatal Depression by Dr Sandra L. Wheatley (Rating *****)

"This book "does what it says on the tin": helps you to cope. It explains PND and what it is, and why you might have it, but more than half of the book is devoted to helping you to help yourself. There are suggestions for tiny little things that make you feel better, that you can do even if it's a "can't brush my hair" day, and explanations of the big things to tackle, like therapy and anti-depressants. I found this book the most helpful in giving me coping tactics, where lots of other books are big on the science of why, but help was thin on the ground."

Suggested by Helen
Depression After Childbirth" by Dr Katharina Dalton
(Rating *)

"If you have a desperate need to know why, then this book has a lot of science, which always helps you to understand what's happening, so long as you have a science degree (luckily I have, but that's beside the point). At the beginning there is a list of 28 figures, the most esoteric of which must be: 10, The formulae for progesterone, norethisterone, and testosterone. Despite being a molecular biologist, knowing the molecular formulae for the hormones involved does not stop you crying because you're lonely, bored and hate your life. I think it might be useful for the professionals to read, but don't expect any hands-on real help."

Suggested by Helen
The Ghost in the House: Mothers, Children and Depression by Tracy Thompson (Rating ****)

"A fairly recent American book, written by a mother who suffered from PND, as did her mother and grandmother. Her experience of parenting through depression (hers is not just postnatal), and also of having been parented by a mother with depression, led her to write this book. If her mother's depression contributed to her own, would it then cause her daughters to have depression? A scary thought, and she confronts this fear and points out ways in which to stop the effects of your own depression from harming your children. The second chapter of this book points out the huge amount of work being a mother involves, much of which goes unnoticed and unappreciated by society, and which is not rewarded with pay or status. Realising this stops the feeling you have achieved nothing at the end of yet another baby-filled day. Her writing tells her family's story and that of others, on her journey of exploration of motherhood and depression, and ends up with the vital chapters on how she and others actually coped with their condition, and some tips and tricks for daily life. Fascinating, touching and helpful."

Suggested by Helen
The Best Friend's Guide to Motherhood by Vivki Iovine (Rating ****)

"This book is on our side: at the front is a top ten list of the biggest shocks of childbirth, and number one is: How nobody ever told you how much it REALLY hurts to have a baby. A lighthearted book that nevertheless gets to grips with baby reality, written by a mum, with extra insight from her group of Best Friends. The PND chapter has real comfort and advice, delivered in a humorous, friendly way. It goes on to discuss the happy little stories of beautiful births that have nothing to do with reality, but cause so much grief when afterwards we didn't get our fairytale birth. A chapter on changed relationships helps make sense of the confusion over how a family fits into the space you filled as a couple."

This quote gives a flavour of the whole book:

"There are three types of new mothers.

  1. The type who give birth and resume their lives with confidence, clear thinking and enthusiasm.
  2. The type who give birth and wish that a fairy godmother would make the baby disappear and restore them to their former life; and
  3. The rest of us."

Birthing from Within

Buy This Book

Suggested by Hari
Birthing From Within by Pam England; Rob Horowitz
This is a fantastic book for anyone who is pregnant and has had a previous traumatic delivery. It is one of the few books that does not approach birth from a physiological perspective. It is full of interesting exercises to help you de-brief the trauma and prepare for your next birth.  The book empathises and empowers some of the methods are practical such as using art in exploring birth and feelings around birth. But it also explores different experiences and attitudes to birth. This is a very kind book and the most useful tool I found when approaching birth for the second and third time - with some considerable trepidation.  I highly recommend it.

Other Books

Unless mentioned, the books below have not been reviewed by the Birth Trauma Association. If you read them and have a comment to make or would like to send in a review please let us know.


If you are a publisher and you think you may have some interesting material to place on these pages, we would be happy to review any titles you would like to send us. Please send to: Birth Trauma Association, PO Box 671, Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 9AT

CONTACT BY POST: The Birth Trauma Association, PO Box 671, Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 9AT
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