Customer Reviews: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn (4th Edition): The Complete Guide
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on February 22, 2011
For my first pregnancy, I read The Mayo Clinic Pregnancy Book, What to Expect, The Husband-Coached Childbirth, and this Penny Simkin book, Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn. This book had the best balance of stats based on evidenced based medicine but also real life anecdotal vignettes from mothers. Throughout the book, there are quotes from mothers sharing their expectations and experiences - these voices put into perspective that there is no one right way, just a few different options that might work for me.

For full disclosure, I approached this first pregnancy considering a natural childbirth but open to using drugs if needed. Since I come from a family of physicians I was skeptical of going too far off the holistic deep-end. I wanted to stay within a comfort zone that balanced following my body and practicing the best evidence-based medicine. After reading many Amazon reviews, I bought this book and was very very happy in its approach to preparing for and giving birth. The book does a great job of showing the range of options. For example, The book provides at least 3 sample birth plans ranging from mothers who wanted and epidural to mothers who wanted to give birth in a birthing center.

A potential con is if you're interested in week by week drawings of your little fetus and getting updates on what fruit or vegetable s/he is, then you'll need to augment this book with the Mayo Clinic Pregnancy Book or sign up for Baby Center's week by week email. Penny Simkin's book will cover general fetus development and what you can expect in each phase of your pregnancy but invests much more in the types of proactive exercises you can be doing to prepare for the birthing process. There is also a section at the end on how to prepare for the newborn, breastfeed and other aspects of basic newborn care.

The book has simple pictures to illustrate techniques. My husband and I started about 2 months before our due date by spending 5-30 minutes each night practicing some of the suggested natural birthing management techniques. There were so many different techniques but the book did a great job of suggesting short routines so that we could work on a few techniques each night. It was great "us" time too!

In addition, there are also sections on possible interventions such as a c-section, different drug options, membrane stripping, etc. It was great to be exposed to these possibilities early on so that I could make the appropriate decision and refer back to the book as needed.

I highly recommend this book for people that are looking for a little more information on what you can do proactively as you're preparing for your childbirth. The book is supportive of both drug-assisted and drug-free deliveries. We lucked out and had a drug-free delivery - I really surprised myself! It was a fantastic experience and this book really helped me prepare.
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on October 29, 2010
While looking through pregnancy books, I got tired of reading about how you got a second line, got sick, got fat, and squeezed out your "bundle of joy." What about the reality of the situation and how exactly that "bundle of joy" finds its way out of me and into this world?

I could not be happier with my purchase of this book. It starts with a few chapters on the typical progression of mother and baby during pregnancy. It includes exercise and diet tips (with pictures) for pregnant women. There is a chapter on complications during pregnancy as well as one on how to plan for a birth. Birth plans are discussed in good detail, as well as interview questions for your OB/Midwife/Doula. In fact, there are different lists for each of those. Although doulas are discussed, this book does not assume you will have either a medicated or a natural birth. Those decisions are left to you.

There are several chapters on labor and delivery. It was extremely informational to learn about the different "stages" and how they progress, as well as positions and situations to help ease the pain during each of these stages. I feel like I'm much more informed about labor now than with any other resource I've come across. Does the phrase "perineal stretches" sound familiar? It does now!

The final few chapters review what to do once the baby enters the world. How do you breastfeed? How do you position your child? How many times should you feed each day and how many wet/poopy diapers should you expect? What are some common causes for concern? Answers to all of these questions are provided, as well as illustrations for breastfeeding, holding your newborn, etc.

There are a few paragraphs scattered throughout this book for Dads, but this book is not geared directly towards men. I'm sure they would find it very informative, although the squeamish ones might shy away.

I give this book four thumbs up (two from me, two from my baby in utero). I finally feel like I am better informed. This book respects you as a mother and aims to give you information in a very easy readable format.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
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on December 18, 2011
I was recommended 'What to expect...' book, but bought this one after reading helpful Amazon reviews. (I am a dad, read this book to support my wife.) It indeed has a wealth of information. The author is obviously on the "natural" side, but does her best to overcome her bias and give full information. She succeeds most of the time. Just be aware that her "pro-natural-birth" arguments turn out slightly more convincing. Still I often went back to this book for comprehensive information.

My recommendation is like this. If you prefer natural birth, definitely buy this book! This will give you a lot of really helpful information, and convincing arguments to hold your ground against those who think otherwise. And, importantly, you'll know what to reserve to if the birth just does not occur naturally. (As it happened to my wife.)

If you are skeptic about natural birth, or prefer a balanced approach, you will still benefit a lot from this book. But make sure to read other sources, otherwise this book will draw you subtly to the author's view.

You may be sure it comprehensive and good quality information. Essential to first-time, or even experienced parents.
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on June 17, 2011
If you're looking for a book to help with natural childbirth, this book could be helpful. However, if you were expecting to get a full nine months of pregnancy info look elsewhere. I thought this seemed like a great book because it included the big three time periods. However, the newborn section is mostly basic information and the pregnancy section really only focuses on the last trimester. There's some info on the first 6 months, but I could have found all of that information online. During the section on the last trimester, it mostly talks about getting ready for childbirth, which is great, but doesn't really focus on what's happening at that moment. The childbirth section is great. Very useful and gives a lot of information on pain management techniques if you plan on going drug-free. It's not the greatest book, but it does have useful information. I think I'll pick up a different pregnancy book though.
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on September 15, 2012
I relied heavily on the third edition for unmedicated labor info and support when expecting my first child, and purchased the revised edition when expecting my second. So much important and well-presented information was removed from the fourth edition! I was so disappointed as I expected all of the info in the third edition to be built upon in the fourth, not that it would be missing. The fourth edition glosses over so much, and too many of the most helpful and well-organized tables, charts, graphs, and illustrations from the third edition are missing. It's still a helpful resource for natural childbirth, but I highly recommend getting the third edition if you want more detailed information.
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on October 23, 2010
This book covers all the bases for first time moms and approaches interventions in childbirth in an unbiased way so that parents can come to their own decisions about mom and baby's care. I would highly recommend this book over What to Expect When Expecting!
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on April 23, 2015
Wish I would have purchased this at start of pregnancy. This book is awesome! It is packed with information about pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for your newborn (exactly as the title implies). I really love how much detail this book goes into regarding the labor and delivery process. I would say this book would be especially beneficial for any woman hoping to have a NATURAL childbirth. It goes into great detail about coping techniques etc during the labor process. That being said, if you are planning to get an epidural or even know you will need a c-section, this book would still be extremely informative (mainly for a first time mom-although I'm not saying the info is super basic). The book is full of very detailed info. However, unlike some books that cover such technical info, it does not read like a boring textbook. It also does not read like a goofy "humorous" book where the author is trying to funny in every sentence. I love that the authors made it very easy to read and not boring but didn't try to be hilarious (which usually ends up being annoying instead of funny).
As far as the Newborn section-I am finding it to be very helpful and informative just as the rest of the book has been. If you only go with one Pregnancy/Childbirth book-this is the one I would invest in. (And I had about 9 between the ones I bought and ones that were given to me).
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on February 13, 2015
While I was expecting my first, I read Penny Simkin's Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. It was by far my favorite pregnancy book. I bought it at first in Nook format, but quickly decided I wanted the paper version. The diagrams and charts didn't show up well in digital format.

This book is a great overview of pregnancy, childbirth, and the newborn - just as you would expect from the title. This book begins with information on interviewing doctors, evaluating hospitals, and choosing a doula. I printed many of the handouts on to help me with this process.

The sections on pregnancy and fetal development were not as detailed as other books. I supplemented with reading from other books and pregnancy aps on my iphone. This book doesn't have a weekly summary of fetal changes, but instead features a more of an overview of developments each trimester. I found the exercises and stretches useful.

The real value of this book lies in the labor and delivery section. Admittedly, it is a little biased toward natural delivery, but does include information on interventions. I was considering a natural birth when reading this book, but I was also open to intervention if I got in over my head. I printed the chart of coping techniques featured in this book, studied them, and included them in the documents I brought to the hospital. This book was also very helpful in writing my birth plan and featured a few examples of plans (from mothers with different goals). I used many of the strategies in this book to have the natural, in-hospital birth I wanted. Luckily for me, I had a normal, uncomplicated labor. Even if it had gone differently, this book gave an overview of interventions: why they might be recommended, what happens, and potential side effects.

Overall, I highly recommend this book especially if you are considering a natural birth or if you want a different view than the typical hospital birthing class.
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on June 21, 2013
I own What to Expect, and being pregnant with my first, I read it cover-to-cover several times. It does get old, so I looked on Amazon and ordered a few pregnancy books. I have to tell you, for preparing for child birth, this one is by far my favorite. It doesn't go into month-to-month, like other books, but provides a lot more in depth info on the actual labor and delivery. Love this book! I am surprised some reviewers thought it was "biased" towards breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. Breast milk is scientifically proven to be the perfect nutrition for babies. It is not a personal attack, it is a medical fact. I'm sorry that for whatever reason you were not able to breastfeed, but it doesn't change the facts.
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on March 19, 2013
I bought this book thinking it would be a great explanation of the pregnancy months. There's only a short 2 or so chapters on pregnancy that are very generic in their explanations. The main chunk of the book is on delivery and possible complications. I may find this book more useful once I'm closer to delivering my baby.

On the flip side, the book is written well in a conversational tone that makes it easy and fun to read. This would be great for women who are towards the end of their second trimester already and looking towards childbirth.
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