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Looking Back (Fondly)

As I look forward to the upcoming Mega Conference in Milwaukee celebrating the 50th anniversaries of both Lamaze International and ICEA, I am also preparing for an unexpected, but happy move to Houston where my son, Brian, and his family live. For the past two days, I have been going through my library of childbirth books. I have been active in the field of childbirth education for over thirty years and clearly I have held on to every book I ever bought!  It doesn’t make sense to move all of them to our new home which will have much less bookshelf space. But how do I give up any of them? So many of the books bring back happy memories of the excitement I felt as I read them and of the passionate discussions I had with other childbirth educators about them. For fun, I decided to create a list of the “Top Ten” books that influenced me as a young childbirth educator. (The books have to be twenty years old.) For those of you who are also “very experienced,” how many of these books do you remember? How would your list compare to mine?

1. Spiritual Midwifery (1977) by Ina May Gaskin

2. The Rights of the Pregnant Parent (1976) by Valmai Elkins – This is easily my most tattered (used often!) book.

3. Immaculate Deception (1975) by Suzanne Arms

4. A Good Birth, A Safe Birth (1992, ok, only 18 years old) by Diana Korte and my dear friend, Roberta Scaer

5. Changing Childbirth (1982) by Diony Young

6. The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth (1980) and anything else by Sheila Kitzinger

7. Silent Knife (1983) by Nancy Cohen and Lois Estner

8. Birth Without Violence (1975) by Frederick Leboyer

9. Why Natural Childbirth? (1972) by Deborah Tanzer

10. A Child is Born (first edition published almost 40 years ago) by Lennart Nilsson

In another twenty (or thirty!) years, I wonder what books, filmmakers, and bloggers will be mentioned by today’s young childbirth educators as having been most influential in their early years? Birth has certainly changed since I taught my first childbirth class – in some ways for the better and in many ways for the worse. But I am proud to have been a part of the childbirth education movement and look forward to continuing to work with my “sisters” in birth to promote natural, safe, and healthy childbirth.

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