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The Birth Partner is required reading for most doulas in training. I use it in my childbirth class as a reference. I recommend it to dads and partners in my childbirth class and believe that if they read this one book, they will be a great help to their women when they give birth. This book is that good.
Unlike The Dad’s Playbook to Labor and Birth, The Birth Partner goes more in depth, assumes the person reading is already motivated to assist mom, helps prepare the reader for a birth in and out of hospital and with or without pain medication. If a birth partner is eager and wants to jump in with both feet, this book is where it’s at.
Like most books these days, the introduction is filled with a beautiful essay of why “Birth Matters”. Funny, that this even needs to be said, but a healthy mom and baby is not all that matters. It is important for many reasons how she is treated and made to feel while she gives birth. If you are interested in delving deeper into this idea of what makes a birth good and why, you should definitely check out the book A Good Birth.
Title: The Birth Partner (Fourth Edition), A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions
Author: Penny Simkin
Published: The Harvard Common Press, 2013
What I loved: The illustrations in this book are so helpful and really set this book apart. I am able to open this book up in labor and show a mom a picture of a particular position and she is can move into that position quickly. Sometimes using a lot of words with a woman in labor is not effective. Also, Simkin has attended HUNDREDS of births as a birth partner herself which is apparent by the detailed ideas and instructions of ways to help a woman in labor. The third thing I loved about this book is that it is made to use before and during birth. Ideally, one would read this ahead of time but this book is easily navigated during labor as well. It’s comprehensive so that you could use the index while navigating doing “The Next Best Thing” in labor.
What I liked: I appreciated Simkin including information on family friendly cesarean births, what happens during a cesarean birth and VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). It is helpful that she included information on fears and emotions in regard to VBACs. Most pregnant women skip over these sections because “that won’t happen to me” but I highly encourage moms to be prepared for the unexpected. The unexpected is at EVERY birth!
What I hated: Hate is such a strong word, but if I had to change anything in this book I would like to bring back the two page illustrations of different positions parents can use in labor. These pages existed in previous editions but isn’t in the current edition. I find it helpful to make a copy of those pages to give to parents. I think they like to see all sorts of options on one page.
What this book is: A detailed and objective explanation of how to be the best birth partner possible in whatever birth experience you find yourself.
What this book is not: This book does not contain birth stories and I wouldn’t expect to read (and digest!) it in a day.