Birth Doula Reading List

Here’s the new, streamlined birth doula reading list from DONA International for certification. I’ve listed any editions I could find. Please remember that you can borrow these from your library, another doula, find them at thrift stores or library sales. You can listen to them as audio books, read them in physical form or digital. Some of the links on this page are from other sites, including Amazon, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you and the money is used to fund scholarships to the doula training.  Alumni can also read this list of recommendations and advice in the alumni group.

There are a four books that you are required to read, but most of the books have a list that you choose one book from and ignore the rest. (Though I’d always recommend you consider reading them on your own later for fun and to be able to talk to your doula clients.)

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin is one book that every birth doula will read. There are a total of four books and this is the main attraction. This book has been around a very long time and is well loved by many people for Penny’s easy to understand instructions and how she thinks about birth as a process. I’m often asked if people should buy the books – and as a book lover, it’s always a personal choice – but if you’re only going to own one book, The Birth Partner should be that book.

The Birth Partner, Fifth Edition by Penny Simkin & Katie Rohs

Group A Books

There are three books in Group A. You choose ONE book from the three. These books are parent focused books relating to pregnancy, birth, and newborns. When I read these books, I’m not reading them for content as much as I’m reading them for how my typical doula client is reading them and what they are taking from the books.

The Mother of All Pregnancy Books 3rd Edition by Ann Douglas

Having Your Baby, For the Special Needs of Black Mothers to Be, First Edition by Dr. Hilda Hutcherson

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide, 5th Edition by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley, Ann Keppler, and Janelle Durham

Group B Books

There are six books in Group B. You choose ONE book from the three. These books explore various birthing populations who are birthing. This is meant to help you understand that not all birthing individuals and families experience the same issues.

Birth in Eight Cultures by Dr. Robbie Davis-Floyd

Delivered by Midwives: African American Midwifery by J.M. Luke

Where’s the Mother? by Trevor MacDonald

Indigenous Experiences of Pregnancy and Birth by Hannah Tait Neufeld and Jaime Cidro

Journey to Parenthood: The Ultimate Guide for Same-Sex Couples by Eric Rosswood

Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty

Group C Books

Group C books are done slightly differently. First of all, remember that this reading list is only asking you to pick one book out of all of these books, not out of each subcategory. DONA also says that you’re able to pick a book for this category that is not on the list. “You may choose a book on this list or another book that informs on your community or practice. If you choose a book that is not on this list, include an assessment of whether or not your chosen book aligns with the DONA International model of care in your written take-aways”. 

 Birth Planning


Doula History

  • The Doula Book (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • Birth Ambassadors (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • Deadly Delivery
  • Birth (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • Red Medicine (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • From Midwives to Medicine (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • The Big Let Down (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)


Perinatal History

Anti-bias, Systemic Racism, Cultural Awareness

  • How to Be an Inclusive Leader (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • What does it mean to be white? (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • So you want to talk about race? (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • The Black Woman’s Guide to Breastfeeding (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • Born to Breastfeed (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • Latch (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • Free to Breastfeed (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • Breastfeeding Made Simple (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)





  • Nobody Told Me About That (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • The Fourth Trimester (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • This Isn’t What I Expected (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • Cut, Stapled, and Mended (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • When Survivors Give Birth (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • Healing After Birth (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)
  • Empty Arms (Paperback) (Kindle) (Audio)


Difficult or Traumatic Birth

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