There are so many options in childbirth preparation literature so they have done the work for you by breaking them down by Citizen (for the average woman, safe to give at a baby shower without offending); Seeker (for the woman who is looking into her options, but not yet sure what she wants); and Sold (for the woman who knows what she wants, has done the research and is a proactive consumer).

Citizen

Conception, Pregnancy and Birth by Miriam Stoppard
This easy to read walk-through covers everything from ovulation to breastfeeding.  It’s filled with beautiful photographs and illustrations and is user-friendly and educational.  Pregnancy is treated as beautiful, normal and natural.  Included are step-by-step stages of labor information as well as coping techniques, positions and possible interventions.

The Pregnancy Book by William Sears, Martha Sears and Linda Hughey Holt.
This book is an easy read, never talking over their audience while providing practical fun, medical and optional information on month-to-month guides.

Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake, Appy Epsteinm, and Jacques Moritz.
This book gives great advice about options in a non-biased, non-confrontational way.  It presents all concepts of labor and birth, including how to choose a doctor or midwife and birthplace, write a birth plan and become a proactive healthcare consumer.  It may not be as in-depth as some, but it will definitely get woman thinking.

The Official Lamaze Guide by Judith Lothian and Charlotte De Vries.
This book focuses a great deal on allowing birth to unfold naturally.  It provides encouragement for normal labor, knowledge on what can disrupt it, and Lamaze coping techniques for the birthing room.

Seeker

Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley and Ann Keppler.
This is a thorough and in-depth educational piece and deals with variations, interventions, medications and the like while also continuing to provide this information in a non-frightening light. It remains factual without becoming intimidating or sentimental.  Some key components that make this a great read are the role of the birth partner, charts on interventions, risks, benefits and emotional and physical landmarks of pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum.

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer and Rhonda Wheeler.
A very in-depth look at interventions, medications and birth, as well as a hard look at the obstetrical system.  It dissects the medical research to give sound, well-rounded information.  It can be hard to digest, but it arms women with an arsenal of information to make informed decisions on just about everything they might encounter during labor and birth.

The Birth Book by William Sears and Martha Sears.
The good, the bad, the ugly and the best – all in a very readable format without the scare tactics.  This book presents the options as well as the risks and benefits of each without sugar-coating them. There is adequate information on various childbirth options and plenty of birth stories to peruse.  I helps women to become educated without having an obvious bias, treating them as individual, proactive healthcare consumers.

Natural Childbirth, The Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon-Roseff, Erick Ingraham, and Robert A. Bradley.
Some consider this book a childbirth preparation class without the classroom.  It outlines the rationale for natural birth, the anatomy and physiology of pregnancy, labor and birth and the emotional as will as physical signposts of labor and birth.  It teaches a number of relaxation techniques and positions for labor and birth, all while encouraging partners to be active participants and assistants.

Sold

Having a Baby, Naturally by Peggy O’Mara, Jackie Facciolo and Wnedy Ponte.
This book explains in a non-biased way their reasoning for natural childbirth.  It is a great companion for home-birth mothers, and they devote a full section to the expectant father.  This is a great resource for natural pregnancy, birth and parenting, but only for those who are already set on that path.

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Dr. Sarah J Buckley.
This book is fully balanced with information on intuitive, as well as evidence-based birthing and parenting practices.  It takes the best of maternal/ancestral wisdom and medical/research wisdon and combines the two to give an insightful look into gentle birth and gentle mothering.

Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz.
This book outlines childbirth preparation by means of discovery, viewing childbirth as a journey and an opportunity to tap into a new woman, the mother. It teaches that, through self discovery, letting go of birth baggage and learning about the emotional journey of childbirth, a woman can have a truly fulfilling birth experience.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin.
This book challenges the cultural assumption that childbirth is a medical, frightening and painful experience by providing a whole section of amazing birth stories that turn any preconceived notions on their heads.  In addition, it provides honest, effective and logical instruction on ways to help progress and assist in the birth process without getting methodical.