CST for Pregnancy Birth & Postpartum Reading List

CST For Pregnancy Birth & Postpartum

I recommend that you read something from the following list before class. Concentrate on an area or two about which you know the least. The more you know about Craniosacral Therapy, pregnancy, the birth process (including cesarean birth), female pelvic and reproductive anatomy, breastfeeding and postpartum recovery, the more you will get out of this class and the better you will be able to serve your clients. We earn sales commissions from Amazon.

Atlas of Human Anatomy  by Frank Netter is the most widely-used anatomy text.
Anatomy: a Regional Atlas of the Human Body  by Carmine Clemente has good pictures of the female pelvis and reproductive/pelvic organs.
Gray’s Anatomy now has color illustrations and, as usual, the best narrative descriptions.
Anatomy Trains  by Thomas W. Myers –  I’m not sure why it took me so long to recommend this book. Remember, the bones are just handles. Mostly we are working with fascia when we are working in the physical realm. The illustrations in this book are great.
Pelvic Power: Mind/Body Exercises for Strength, Flexibility, Posture, and Balance for Men and Women by Eric Franklin is a great tool for understanding the pelvis. The illustrations are good. It also has nice body-mind exercises to help increase our pelvic awareness. This book is meaty enough for the professional and also accessible for lay people. It has some great ideas for helping our female clients tune in and improve pelvic strength and mobility.
Preparing for a Gentle Birth: The Pelvis in Pregnancy by Blandine Calais-Germain. This book is amazing. Really amazing. The illustrations are fantastic. It takes us through all of the possible pelvic movements and explains their relevance to the birth process. I might make this REQUIRED reading for this class.
The Female Pelvis  by Blandine Calais-Germain is accessible, accurate and has an emphasis on pregnancy and birth. It also has illustrated, clearly explained exercises to help women maintain good pelvic health.
Saving The Whole Woman  by Christine Ann Kent fits best into the anatomy section, but it is really a manifesto about the hysterectomy and other female pelvic surgeries and their aftermath. I am unimpressed by the exercises she recommends for healing incontinence, prolapses, etc. but the anatomy and especially the descriptions of the surgical procedures makes this book a must read.
The Psoas Book  by Liz Koch is really helpful for understanding the female pelvic mobility and alignment issues we encounter when treating moms. The illustrations are very good.
Wild Feminine  by Tami Lynn Kent – not really an anatomy book, but a wonderful book written by a PT who specializes in women’s health.  This book focuses on women’s self discovery of the pelvis as the source of feminine creativity and so much more. I highly recommend this one.
The Vagina Bible: The Vulva and the Vagina: Separating the Myth from the Medicine by Jennifer Gunteris a great read. I thought I knew it all, but I learned a thing or two. You will, too. If you have a vagina, you should read this book. If your clients/patients have vaginas, you should read this book. It’s not exactly an anatomy book. It’s not exactly a physiology book. It’s not exactly a pathology book. It’s the information we all need for excellent self-care and how to insure we get excellent medical care when we need it.
The Belly Mapping Workbook  by Gail Tully is written for mothers to help them figure out the position of their babies in utero. This is an essential skill for us.

The Oxytocin Factor  by Kerstin Uvnas Moberg is an amazing book. Remember the fight/flight/freeze system? We’ve all studied it. This book is about the other system: calm/connection/love/healing. We owe it to the mothers and babies we see to understand as much as we can about this.

Many infants in my practice and most of the babies in our free clinics present with breastfeeding problems. It helps to know something about it.
Fit To Be Tied: A Visual Resource for Parents by Renee Beebe is a great little book for parents who are navigating the sea of conflicting information about tongue and lip ties. This is a great resource for us, too. Most oral restrictions are palpable. Many of them are also visually assessable. The pictures are great and the text is clear and concise. I’m so glad Renee wrote this book!
Latch Baby by Tracey Jedrzejek, MA, IBCLC is a wonderful place to start your journey of learning about breastfeeding. It is short, simple, well-illustrated and concise. I especially like the concise part. The intended audience is expectant and new parents. It’s a great foundation for your breastfeeding knowledge and a great book to recommend to parents. It informs without overwhelming.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding  by Diane Wiessinger, et. al. This is the book I now recommend most often to people who want to learn about breastfeeding. Be sure to get the most recent edition. Information about breastfeeding is evolving quickly.
Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers  by Nancy Mohrbacher IBCLC FILCA and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett PhD IBCLC This one is a fabulous simple guide written for mothers. It’s consistent with all the up to date information about laid back nursing, biological nurturing and asymmetrical latch.
Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding  by Linda J. Smith is a must-have, evidence and research based book written for lactation consultants, other professionals and parents.  It is an excellent reference for bodyworkers who help infants. Chapter four, “Cascade of Interventions: Physics, Forces and Mechanics” really puts together the the anatomy and physiology of suck-swallow-breathe. She makes it easy to understand how the work we do really helps babies who have  breastfeeding difficulties.
Supporting Sucking Skills in Breastfeeding Infants  by Catherine Watson Genna. This is a pathology book for lactation consultants. It is by far the most technical of the four books listed here about breastfeeding.

Birthing From Within by Pam England — The Birthing From Within philosophy: Childbirth is a profound rite of passage, not a medical event (even when medical care is part of the birth). The essence of childbirth preparation is self-discovery, not assimilating obstetric information. Childbirth preparation is a continually evolving process not a static structure of technique and knowledge. Active, creative self-expression is critical to childbirth preparation. The purpose of childbirth preparation is to prepare parents to give birth-in-awareness, not to achieve a specific birth outcome. Pregnancy and birth outcome are influenced by a variety of factors, but can’t be controlled by planning. In order to help parents mobilize their coping resources, it is critical for childbirth preparation to acknowledge that unexpected, unwelcome events may happen during labor. Parents deserve support for any birth option which might be right for them (whether it be drugs, technology, home birth or bottle-feeding). Pain is an inevitable part of childbirth, yet much can be done to ease suffering. Pain-coping practices work best when integrated into daily life, rather than “dusted off” for labor. Partners help best as birth guardians or loving partners, not as coaches; they also need support. For parents, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is a time of continuous learning and adjustment; holistic support and education should be available throughout that period. Childbirth preparation is also parent preparation.
Touching Bellies, Touching Lives: Midwives of Southern Mexico Tell Their Stories by Judy Gabriel. I absolutely loved this book. I’m obsessed with the idea of achieving ideal positions for babies in utero. This book tells the story over and over of how the midwives massage the babies into good positions. That, however, is not the only reason to read this book. It also tells the story of the imminent disappearance of midwives in southern Mexico. Thank you, Judy, for taking the time to interview these women. Thank you for sharing with us their universal trust in birth. Thank you for preserving their stories. I loved every page.
The Tentative Pregnancy: How Amniocentesis Changes the Experience of Motherhood by Barbara Katz Rothman – an insight into the impact of prenatal testing and some of the huge dilemmas facing mothers especially in the first trimester.
Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn  by Penny Simkin is a good all-encompassing guide.
The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth  by Sheila Kitzinger – another great all-in-one-book
The Birth Partner  by Penny Simkin – This book will acquaint you with typical American birth procedures and describe the experience of labor and birth. Don’t skip the part about cesarean birth. It’s a reality for a third of American moms and babies.
Body, Soul, and Baby – Tracy Gaudet – This is a lovely book about conscious preparation for conception, pregnancy and birth.  It is a fabulous book to recommend to our clients to help them stay grounded and connected with their bodies and their babies.
When Survivors Give Birth  by Penny Simkin – A must-read in order to provide sensitive care for survivors of childhood abuse. We may not realize it, but we see them every day.
Spiritual Midwifery  by Ina May Gaskin – great hippie birth stories – also read the part about pregnancy and birth written for midwives in the back of the book.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth  by Ina May Gaskin – More birth stories plus sobering facts about the effects of medical interventions and strategies for avoiding them.
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering  by Dr. Sarah J Buckley – A readable, well researched exploration of gentle birth written by an MD who gave birth at home.
Deliver Me From Pain: Anesthesia and Birth In America  by Jacqueline H. Wolf is a wonderful book. It’s scholarly and readable. Until I read this book I thought I knew everything about the evolution of medicalized birth in America. I was wrong. If we are counseling women about their choices it helps to know how we got here.

Heart and Hands  by Elizabeth Davis. If you are a little or a lot interested in midwifery and natural birth, but you aren’t ready to dive into Anne Frye’s books, this is the book for you.
Holistic Midwifery Volume I  by Anne Frye – This one is all about prenatal care.
Holistic Midwifery Volume II  by Anne Frye – This one is about birth and the immediate postpartum.

Pelvic Liberation
by (my teacher) Leslie Howard is my new favorite book all about pelvic health. It incorporates lots of yoga (my favorite). It’s good for professionals and good for a self-help recommendation, too.
Essential Exercises for the Childbearing Year by Elizabeth Noble – This has the raw material for your recommendations to expectant and new mothers – written by a P.T. It could be better organized, but it’s full of important information.
Understanding and Teaching Optimal Foetal Positioning  by Jean Sutton and Pauline Scott – This book will help you advise moms about how to ensure their babies are in good positions for birth.
The Labor Progress Handbook  by Penny Simkin could also be listed under books about pregnancy and birth. This book gives great biomechanical advice about how to position a mother to help a baby assume a good position for efficient birth – during labor.
Back Labor No More   by Janie McCoy King – A mathematician uses vector analysis to figure out why she had back labor and devises a strategy to help eliminate it. The tone is a little silly, but the advice is sound.
Together Tummy by Julie Tupler- Hate the cover photo with the tape measure. Love the book. This book is really excellent. It isn’t really about regaining your girlish figure after giving birth. This is a step-by-step guide to assess and resolve Diastasis Recti. You will use the techniques to assess your clients. You will teach them exercises from this book and you will also recommend this book to your clients. This is the updated version of her prior title, Lose Your Mummy Tummy.
Alignment Matters by Katy Bowman is wonderful. I have been reading her blog for years. She’s a great teacher! Graze your way through the whole book in any order you like. She has arranged past blog posts by subject matter. Pay particular attention to the parts about the pelvis.
Core Awareness by Liz Koch is a must read for anyone who resides in a body. Liz is such an awesome teacher!
Ending Female Pain by Isa Herrera could be listed in more than one category. This is really a self-help book. It can help us have more insight into the lives of women who suffer from pelvic pain and it also has a wealth of things we can recommend to them for self care and referrals.

The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality
by Kimberly Ann Johnson: FINALLY, an excellent book about the postpartum experience!!!The author and I share many influences. She has done a spectacular job of synthesizing the wisdom of these influences into a practical, well-written guide for postpartum healing. She echos people like Pam England, D.W. Winnicott, Tami Kent, Stan Tatkin, Ellen Heed and many others. You must read this book! You must recommend it to ALL pregnant and newly postpartum people! In fact, anybody who has EVER given birth can move toward healing with this book.
Homebirth Cesarean by Courtney Key Jarecki is a great book. Anyone who works with women of childbearing age should read it. It is specifically about women who have planned home births and who end up in the hospital with cesarean births. It is written from many points of view, mothers, their partners, midwives, doulas, mental health professionals, etc. It’s full of personal stories. It’s about preparing for the possibility of cesarean birth, coping with the reality, healing, subsequent pregnancies and more. Although it is written about a specific group of women – those who planned home births and ended up with cesareans, it is valuable for all. Lots of women have cesarean births in the US, many of them hadn’t considered the possibility in advance. Some of them are traumatized.
After the Baby’s Birth by Robin Lim is a great guide for new moms and those of us who help care for them.  I especially like the new mother stories at the end of the book.
This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression by Karen Kleiman and Valerie Raskin. Mothering the New Mother  by Sally Placksin – another great insight into the emotional landscape of the postpartum period.
Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields – I’m not very interested in the memoirs of celebrities, but this is a great book. Brooke describes in intimate details her journey through postpartum depression. It’s a great first-person account. We should read it for our own insight and also recommend it to parents.
Birth Crisis by Sheila Kitzinger could also be listed in the section on pregnancy and birth. It explores the causes of women’s distress and trauma after giving birth. I highly recommend this book.
Ended Beginnings by Claudia Panthous is a classic, timeless book about pregnancy loss of all kinds. I know of no other book that’s more helpful for us as practitioners when we are caring for mothers who have experienced pregnancy loss. This is also a wonderful resource to recommend to mothers.
Ended Beginnings  by Claudia Panthous is a classic, timeless book about pregnancy loss of all kinds. I know of no other book that’s more helpful for us as practitioners when we are caring for mothers who have experienced pregnancy loss. This is also a wonderful resource to recommend to mothers.

Assessment and Treatment Methods for Manual Therapists: The Most Effective and Efficient Treatment Every Time
by Jeffrey Burch – This book isn’t exactly a CST Book and it’s not about pregnant people or babies, but many of the techniques are useful to us. I waited years for Jeff to write this book. It was worth the wait. I have learned so much from Jeff about assessment and treatment tools over the years. Some of the things I teach in the Subtle Hands-On Skills class I learned from Jeff. This book is beyond comprehensive – an incredible resource.
CranioSacral Therapy for Children Treatments for Expecting Mothers, Babies and Children
by Daniel Agustoni encompasses the whole-family dynamics of physical, psychological, emotional, and energetics when treating mothers and children.
An Introduction to Craniosacral Therapy  by Don Cohen  is the best book for absolute beginners who want to learn about the basics of the work. This book is geared toward a general audience. It is also a helpful guide for more experienced practitioners who have a hard time finding the words to describe the work to clients and potential clients.
Rhythm and Touch  by Anthony P. Arnold  is the best actual textbook I have found on Craniosacral Therapy It has great illustrations plus clear definitions and instructions. I highly recommend this widely-used textbook.

John Upledger’s textbooks are a little dense and technical, but they get more readable as you work your way through the series:

Craniosacral Therapy  by John Upledger
Craniosacral Therapy II: Beyond the Dura  by John Upledger
SomatoEmotional Release  by John Upledger
Your Inner Physician and You  by John Upledger is Dr. John’s most readable book.  I strongly recommend reading this if you have little or no CST exposure.
The Heart of Listening  by Hugh Milne is a two-volume set and a great read for people who have little or no exposure to the practice of therapeutic bodywork and CST. He presents both the historical/theoretical foundation and also some how-to.
Craniosacral Therapy and the Energetic Body  by Roger Gilchrist –  This is another great book for the uninitiated and the experienced alike. Gilchrist presents a clearly written explanation of the deeper concepts at the core of the work.
Atlas of Manipulative Techniques for the Cranium & Face  by Alain Gehin. If you already have some CST experience, this is the next book. The illustrations are good and demonstrate ways to release more than one area at a time.

Scared Sick: The Role of Childhood Trauma in Adult Disease  by Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith Wiley is a must-read. This very readable and sobering book is a round-up of cutting edge research that explores the relationship between perinatal, infant and childhood stress and disease later in life.
Nutrition in the Womb by David Barker, MD explains how inadequate nutrition in the womb and early life forever changes the structure and function of the body leading to chronic disease in later life.
Woman: An Intimate Georgaphy by Natalie Angier. This book was updated and republished in 2014. I don’t know how the first version got past me. This is a spectacular book about women’s bodies and how they work. It is READABLE and scientific – written by a Pulitzer Prize winning author who writes about biology for The New York Times. It’s a little long. Reads it anyway. This book could easily fit in the anatomy or physiology section, too.

Simplicity Parenting
  by Kim John Payne is the most wonderful parenting book I have found. This is the book you will read yourself and the book you will recommend to the parents of the children you treat. It is short, practical and essential. I find myself giving advice parroted from this book on an almost daily basis.
Osteopathy for Children  by Elizabeth C. Hayden, D.O. written by a British osteopath is an easy read and may be a great book to recommend to clients who want to learn more about what we do and how we can help mothers during the childbearing year and also their infants. I don’t agree with every little thing in this book, but it is really a nice overview.
Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship
by Stan Katkin is a great book to read for our own intimate partner relationship health. It’s also a good book to recommend to expectant parents and parents with new babies at home. The simple tools in this book can help strengthen partner relationships at a time when they can be strained by a growing family or new baby at home.

Labor Love and Liberation by Tina Lilly is an amazing book for prenatal yoga teachers to read and recommend to students. It is by far the best book I have read about moving through pregnancy and preparing for birth the yoga way. It is an eloquently-written part memoir and part guide. This book is about walking the talk through pregnancy and birth. It’s a must-read.
Yoga: A Gem for Women by Geeta S. Iyengar is a wonderful book about yoga for women at all stages of life. She’s B.K.S. Iyengar’s daughter, BTW. You gotta have it on your shelf and, better yet, in your hands – read it.
The Woman’s Book of Yoga and Health: A Lifelong Guide to Wellness by Linda Sparrowe and Patricia Walden is another Iyengar-inspired yoga text just for women. It has useful information about healing women’s bodies and, of course, pregnancy sequences.
Yoga Mama by Linda Sparrowe is written for yogis who want to continue appropriate practice during pregnancy birth and postpartum. I like this book because it gave me some ideas about sequencing and flow. It has recommendations for each trimester.
Iyengar Yoga for Motherhood: Safe Practice for Expectant & New Mothers by Geeta S. Iyengar, Rita Keller and Kerstin Khattab – I love the illustrations in this book. I love the way the material is organized. The instructions are clear. This is THE book – really comprehensive. At first I was overwhelmed by all the props, but over time I have become accustomed to using many of them in my prenatal yoga classes. When B.K.S. Iyengar began teaching yoga to Westerners he found that they had difficulty with the practice. He used ordinary stuff from around the house to help – stuff like blankets, chairs, cushions, belts, books, benches, etc. This was the origin of the standard props we see in yoga studios today. So even if you don’t have all of this stuff you can improvise.
Inner Beauty, Inner Light: Yoga for Pregnant Women is a classic text. The text is beautiful to read. French Obstetrician, Frederick Leboyer wrote the book and took the photographs himself. The women is Vanita, B.K.S. Iyengar’s daughter. She gave birth a few days after the photos were taken. The photos depict her daily yoga practice.
Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful by Gurmukh is a lovely book born from the Kundalini Yoga tradition. It  offers advice and inspiration for pregnancy and birth. The meditations and exercises are designed to help people prepare for birth and parenting – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I especially like the meditations.

The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice  by Deborah Adeleis is a must-read for understanding and embracing the yoga way of life. It’s well-written and understandable. This is the basic guide for walking the talk.

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