There are a number of wonderful books available. Some of the ones I strongly suggest people read are:
The Birth Book by Dr. William Sears & Martha Sears. This book is a good, basic book to start with. The Sears’ present their material in a pretty balanced, supportive, and accepting way. They favor natural childbirth and are supportive of midwives and homebirth. They also recognize that couples choose a spectrum of choices.
Birthing From Within, by Pam England. This book is a treasure. A fresh and exciting way to view birth and birth preparation. Pam views birth as a rite of passage and encourages women to “birth in awareness” regardless of the circumstances around them (natural, when interventions are needed, with medications, during a cesarean, etc.). I LOVE her work with birth art.
The Complete Book of Pregnancy & Childbirth, by Sheila Kitzinger. This is a good basic birth with lots of great pictures. I especially like the opening section with photos of a pregnant women at different stages of pregnancy accompanying by “at a glance” facts about that stage of pregnancy and an illustration of the fetus at each point as well.
The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin. This book is a wonderful guide for fathers and also for doulas. Contains a wealth of information about supporting a women in labor and birth. Excellent.
Pregnancy, Childbirth, & the Newborn, by Penny Simkin. This book is a phenomenal resource for basic pregnancy and childbirth information. It has some great illustrations of positions for labor and birth.
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer. I think all pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant should read this book. This is not a preparation for birth type of book, but a research heavy exploration of issues in the birthplace, evidence based care, and preparing for the birth you want.
The Baby Book, by Dr. William Sears & Martha Sears. This is a comprehensive guide to baby care during the first year. Attachment parenting based philosophy and covers a broad spectrum of information.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, by La Leche League International. The original guide to breastfeeding from the world’s foremost authority on breastfeeding. A comprehensive book that really explores mothering through breastfeeding, not solely breastfeeding management.
Fathers at Birth by Rose St. John. This book is a wonderful resource for fathers to be. Lots of helpful ideas, photos, and explanations.