Doula Reading List Annotated
DONA International has a reading list that they use in the birth doula certification. What I love about their reading list is that unlike so many other things in life, you have options! While not every category is going to give you tons of options, the ability to choose can be beneficial. It is a great way to personalize the reading list to the type of doula that you want to be and the spirit in which you wish to run your business. It is also helpful in terms of being able to have options when it comes to finding books to borrow either from your local library or local birth professionals. I highly recommend borrowing as a great way to save money during the certification process. It allows you to find that book that really speaks to you and later you can invest in the book and put it on your shelf if you would like to do so. There are a couple of exceptions, and I hope you’ll take note of those as we talk about each of these books.
Straight up I will tell you that I have not read every single book on this list. I will give you practical advice about when a book might be better suited for a certain type of practice based on personal opinion and based on knowledge of many, many trainees’ opinions over the course of many years. There are a few affiliate links here. With that – let’s get to the books!
Required Birth Doula Reading for Certification
The main staple of the birth doula training is The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions by Penny Simkin (2013, or later). This is one that you will want to buy. This book is not in one of the groups because DONA asks that everyone have this book personally and that they bring it to their birth doula workshop. This is also a book that I recommend that you consider spiral binding (see below). The other papers below are suggested to be read prior to the workshop, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
- DONA International’s Position Paper: The Birth Doula’s Contribution to Modern Maternity Care by DONA International (2012, or later) (FREE)
- DONA International’s Position Paper: The Postpartum Doula’s Role in Modern Maternity Care by DONA International (2008, or later) (FREE)
Group 1 – Read at least ONE of the following:
- The Doula Book: How a Trained Labor Companion Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth (A Merloyd Lawrence Book) (2012, or later)
- Birth Ambassadors: Doulas and the Re-Emergence of Woman-Supported Birth in America by Christine H. Morton with Elaine G. Clift (2014, or later)
Group 2 – Read at least ONE of the following:
- The New Pregnancy & Childbirth: Choices and Challenges by Sheila Kitzinger (2011, or later)
- Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: the Complete Guide by Penny Simkin, April Bolding, Ann Keppler, and Janelle Durham (2010, or later)
- The Mother of All Pregnancy Books: an All-Canadian Guide to Conception, Birth and Everything in Between by Ann Douglas (2012, or later)
- The Simple Guide to Having a Baby: a Step-by-Step Illustrated Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Janet Whalley, Penny Simkin and Ann Keppler (2012, or later)
Group 3 – Read at least ONE of the following:
- Optimal Care in Childbirth: the Case for a Physiologic Approach by Henci Goer and Amy Romano (2012, or later) ·
- An Easier Childbirth: a Mother’s Guide to Birthing Normally by Gayle Peterson (2008, or later)
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin (2008, or later)
- Natural Hospital Birth: the Best of Both Worlds by Cynthia Gabriel (2011, or later)
Group 4 – Read at least ONE of the following:
- Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding: the Canadian Expert Offers the Most Up-to-Date Advice on Every Aspect of Breastfeeding by Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman (2015, or later)
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger, Diana West and Teresa Pitman (2010, or later)
- The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins (2015, or later)
Group 5 – Read at least ONE of the following:
- This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression by Karen Kleiman and Valerie Davis Raskin (2013, or later)
- The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett (2005, or later)
- Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth by Walker Karraa (2014, or later)
- Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: A Self-Help Guide by Pacific Postpartum Support (2014, or later)
Group 6 – Read at least ONE of the following:
- The Doula Business Guide: Creating a Successful Mother Baby Business by Patty Brennan (2014, or later) (Note: While not a part of the required reading, they also have a matching workbook.)
- Doula Programs: How to Start and Run a Private or Hospital-Based Program with Success! by Paulina Perez with Deaun Thelen (2010, or later)
- The Only Grant-Writing Book You’ll Ever Need by Ellen Karsh and Arlen Sue Fox (2014, or later)
- Winning Grants Step by Step: The Complete Workbook for Planning, Developing and Writing Successful Proposals by Tori O’Neal-McElrath (2013, or later)
- You, Inc.: The Art of Selling Yourself by Harry Beckwith and Christine Clifford (2011, or later)
- Worth Every Penny: Build a Business That Thrills Your Customers and Still Charge What You’re Worth by Sarah Petty and Erin Verbeck (2012, or later)
- Body of Work: Finding The Thread That Binds Your Story Together by Pamela Slim (2013, or later)
Other Tips About Doula Certification Reading Lists
If you have a book that you love or use a lot, consider having it bound with a spiral binding. You can take it to a printing store, like FedEx Office and they will put a spiral binding on it. (I would also splurge for about $2.00 more and ask that they put clear plastic covers on too.) It costs about $5-6 but allows the books to lay flat which is very helpful.
There are many ways to save money on these books. Do not forget about yard sales, particularly when they advertise as having baby things. There are also stores that sell used books at a lower cost. This is also a great place to find books. As a doula trainer, I’m always scouring for books on the list. I lend them out or donate them to various organizations locally who are trying to help get doulas trained.