Required Reading List

As part of your CAPPA certification process, you are required to read a minimum of five books in addition to the CAPPA Labor Doula manual (which you will receive at your training class). You should read at least one book from each section, and always the most current edition of each book.

You will eventually want to read as many of these books as possible, as each provides unique perspective on the work and will expand your knowledge and understanding.

Looking for suggestions on which books to read? Check out my recommendations at the bottom of this list!

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Doula Studies & History of Birth:

The books in this category covers some of the background of maternity care in North America and research studies that support doula care.

The Doula Advantage – Rachel Gurevich
Special Women – Paulina Perez
The Doula Book – Klaus, Klaus, Kennell
Birth as an American Rite of Passage – Robbie Davis-Floyd
Birth – Tina Cassidy
Birth Matters – Ina May Gaskin

Labor Support Skills:

The books in this category cover not only specific labor support techniques, but the art of providing labor support to the laboring woman and her family.

The Nurturing Touch at Birth – Paulina Perez
The Birth Partner – Penny Simkin
The Labor Progress Handbook – Penny Simkin, Ruth Ancheta
Active Birth, Revised Edition – Janet Balaskas
Easing Labor Pain – Adrienne Lieberman
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – Ina May Gaskin
Fathers at Birth – Rose St. John

Pregnancy & Birth:

The books in this category cover the process of pregnancy and birth, as well as information that will be helpful to you and your clients as they develop their birth preferences and make choices about their care.

The Greatest Pregnancy Ever – Laurel Wilson, Tracy Wilson Peters
The Attachment Pregnancy – Laurel Wilson, Tracy Wilson Peters
Pregnancy, Childbirth & the Newborn 4th Edition – Simkin, Whalley, Kepler
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering – Sarah J. Buckley, MD
Optimal Care in Childbirth – Henci Goer & Amy Romano
Your Best Birth – Ricki Lake
A Good Birth, A Safe Birth – Diana Korte & Roberta Scaer
Gentle Birth Choices – Barbara Harper

Breastfeeding:

This category includes some of the most useful and updated books written about breastfeeding, including successful initiation and topics to support breastfeeding through various circumstances.

The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers – Dr. Jack Newman & Teresa Pitman
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – La Leche League International
Breastfeeding Made Simple – Nancy Morbacher & Kathleen Kendall-Tacket
Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding – Ina May Gaskin

Special Situations:

This category covers some of the challenging situations doula will encounter, such as VBAC support, perinatal loss, and the impact of sexual trauma on the birth process.

Birthing Normally After a Cesarean or Two – Helene Vadeboncoeur
The VBAC Companion – Diana Korte
When Hello Means Goodbye – Kirk & Schweibert
When Survivors Give Birth – Penny Simkin
Survivor Moms – Mickey Sperlich & Julia Seng

Ana’s Recommendations

Suggested for Beginners:

If you are fairly new to birth work, these books will provide a strong background as you begin your doula career. Ideal if you’ve not given birth yourself, if you gave birth only via cesarean, or if you’ve never attended a birth.

The Doula Book – Klaus, Klaus, Kennell
The Birth Partner – Penny Simkin
Pregnancy, Childbirth & the Newborn – Simkin, Whalley, Kepler (read before the training class if possible!)
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – La Leche League International
Survivor Moms – Mickey Sperlich & Julia Seng

Suggested for Advanced Students:

If you have already been attending births, have been teaching childbirth education classes, or otherwise have a professional background in which you’ve worked in maternity care, you will want some books that will build on your knowledge and experience. The books listed below provide a more advanced place to begin your doula career.

Birth as an American Rite of Passage – Robbie Davis-Floyd
The Labor Progress Handbook – Penny Simkin, Ruth Ancheta
Optimal Care in Childbirth – Henci Goer & Amy Romano
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers – Dr. Jack Newman & Teresa Pitman
When Survivors Give Birth – Penny Simkin

Not Required for Certification But…:

Love to read and hungry for more? Here are some books I think all doulas should read, as well as some videos you’ll find really educational! Remember these cannot be counted as part of your required reading for certification, but I guarantee that you’ll find them all valuable!

Doula Programs – Paulina Perez
Trauma Stewardship – Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky
The Doula Business Guide – Patty Brennan
Keep the Fires Burning – Micky Jones
Business of Being Born (video) – Streaming | DVD Special Edition
MORE Business of Being Born (video) – Streaming | Part One – Part Two – Part ThreePart Four  | DVD
Orgasmic Birth (video) – Streaming | DVD | Book
Organic Birth (video – shortened adaptation of Orgasmic Birth) – Streaming | DVD