04/12/2015 11:35 EDT | Updated 06/16/2015 01:59 EDT

Sheila Kitzinger, author and pioneer of natural childbirth, dies at 86

LONDON - Anthropologist and childbirth expert Sheila Kitzinger, whose books helped people around the world begin new lives as parents, has died. She was 86.

Her publisher, Pinter & Martin, says Kitzinger died Saturday at her home near Oxford in southern England after a short illness.

Kitzinger was an early leader of the natural childbirth movement and sought to empower women during pregnancy and birth. She wrote more than two dozen books, including "The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth," ''The Experience of Childbirth" and "Ourselves as Mothers."

Daughter Celia Kitzinger said her mother was "so much more than a 'natural birth guru,'" and had campaigned on issues including an end to female genital mutilation.

Her autobiography, "A Passion for Birth," is due to be published next month.