- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Harvard Common Press; 4 edition (July 1, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1558328807
- ISBN-13: 978-1558328808
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 543 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Birth Partner, 4th Edition, Completely Revised and Updated: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and Other Labor Companions Paperback – July 1, 2017
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The Medical Side of Childbirth
The caregiver’s primary role in childbirth is to safeguard the health of mother and child. Throughout pregnancy, the caregiver relies on a wide assortment of tests, technologies, and procedures to detect and treat problems before they become serious. Similar tests, technologies, and procedures (often referred to as 'interventions') are available during childbirth.
Caregivers differ among themselves regarding what should constitute routine basic care during childbirth. Some caregivers feel birth is so unpredictable that it is safest to use many medical procedures in every labor, whether they are needed or not. Others believe that childbirth is essentially a normal physiological process, and use medical or surgical interventions only when problems are suspected or detected. Pregnant women differ among themselves over the same issues. Some are fearful and feel more secure with a highly medical approach, while others perceive birth as normal and are wary of excessive interventions. They place more trust in their bodies and their inner resources than in technology.
The Birth Ball
Sitting on a birth ball.
The mother sits on it and sways during contractions. This helps relax her trunk and pelvic floor.
Kneeling while leaning on a birth ball.
The mother kneels on the floor (with padding under her knees) or on the bed and leans forward with her head, shoulders, arms, and upper chest resting on the ball. This provides the same benefits as the handsand- knees position (for example, relief of back pain, rotation of an OP baby, and possible improvement of a baby’s heart rate) but is more restful. The mother can also sway effortlessly.
Standing, swaying with the ball.
The mother stands next to a hospital birthing bed, which may be raised or lowered to a comfortable height, or a counter. The ball is placed on the bed, and she rests her head and upper body on it, swaying rhythmically and effortlessly side to side during contractions. This gives many of the same advantages of kneeling while leaning on the ball, and also uses gravity to help the baby descend.
Using the ball to help soothe a crying baby.
Lastly, after the baby is born, the birth ball is a great help at home. You can almost always soothe a fussy baby quickly by sitting on the ball with the baby against your shoulder. Then you bounce, gently or vigorously—whatever works. This is a wonderful way to create a soothing up-and-down motion for the baby without wearing yourself out. Of course, a baby who is crying from hunger should be fed, not bounced.
6: Tests, Technologies, Interventions, and Procedures
Normal delivery without episiotomy with the woman on her side. Left: The caregiver uses warm compresses to promote relaxation and circulation, and gently supports the perineum. Right: With the mother rolled toward her side, the caregiver provides slight counterpressure as the baby’s head emerges.
Encouraging the Baby to Change Position
It is not always easy to identify the position of the baby in the pelvis; even the most experienced nurses, midwives, and doctors have trouble doing this sometimes. (To learn more about a baby’s position in labor and the many ways to identify it, consult www.spinningbabies.com and The Labor Progress Handbook; see 'Recommended Resources'). But you do not need to know the baby’s position before trying some of the measures described in this and the preceding chapter.
Encouraging the Baby to Change Position - Side lying
Side lying: The mother lies on her side with both hips and knees flexed, and a pillow between her knees. If the nurse or midwife is quite sure the baby’s back is toward the left side of the mother’s back (left occiput posterior, or LOP), the mother lies on her left side; if she believes the baby is ROP, the mother lies on her right side. If you are not sure of the baby’s position, have the mother turn from one side to the other every 20 to 30 minutes.
About the Author
Penny Simkin, PT, is a physical therapist, childbirth educator, doula, and birth counselor. She is nationally recognized as a premier authority on childbirth, having helped 9,000 expecting women and birth partners in childbirth and attended hundreds of couples though the birth process. Simkin is a prolific author and serves on more than 10 different consultant and editorial boards, including the journal Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care, The International Childbirth Education Association, and The Seattle Midwifery School, where she also provides training for doulas and lectures to students. She has written myriad books, journal, and magazine articles. Simkin is also co-founder of DONA International (formerly Doulas of North America) and The Pacific Association for Labor Support. In addition to providing childbirth education, birth counseling, and labor support, Simkin travels extensively throughout the country, lecturing and presenting at conferences and workshops. For more information, please visit Simkin’s website at pennysimkin.com.
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We did not use a doula for our labor and birth. I was her support and along with the great nursing staff, we did great. I felt confident in my ability to help her and we used several of the pain mitigation techniques offered in the book. I found I did not have to reference the book more than a couple times during the whole event as I'd read through it and was prepared ahead of time. My wife was able to delivery vaginally with no epidural or other pain medication. I do find that the book is very pushy for getting a doula, which I understand as Penny is a certified doula who has helped establish a strong doula network within the U.S.
Each chapter/section talks about mama and baby first, then how the birth partner can help, and finally how a doula can help even more. For those people thinking of possibly getting a doula, the last bit may be very useful in order to help you better understand how one could help. If you know for sure you do not want one, you can read it as a way for the birth partner to help even more.
The book itself is very nicely organized by chapter and features small sections at the end of each chapter that is a summary of what the chapter talked about. These sections have a grey border, which makes them very easy to find while flipping through the book. This makes them very easy to find later while in labor and delivery, but I also found a couple small sticky notes in certain sections with subjects written on the notes, makes it even easier.
No matter if you plan on a hospital birth, home birth, with or without pain medication, I highly recommend you read through this book. Even if it isn't the first child, if you aren't feeling confident about being a good support for mama and baby, read through it and you'll know exactly what to do.
There's a section in the book alone that makes it well worth the money where it explains to the partner/husband that sometimes distracting the woman with questions like "what can I get you to drink" aren't as helpful as say, just bringing her a drink and seeing if she wants it. Likewise it gives tips on massage, things to have with you in the hospital, explains some of the reactions and reasons behind them that a woman might exhibit - the entire bit on a woman might lash out at you because she's frightened and you're a safe target was worth it's weight in gold. Ever since he's read it, husband has really been a lot more supportive and has helped weather some of the 9th month mood swings and crying fits with a lot more understanding and support than I'd expected. :)
The book goes into explicit but easily digestible detail of pregnancy, different types of labor, the types of support one can offer in labor, what you'll encounter in a home birth vs a hospital birth, basic baby care after the birth, and caring for the mother throughout the entire process.
It also covers the different styles of birth from home births to hospitals and natural labor to different medications that can be used. The tone of the book is really open and doesn't push any agenda of which way is better over another. Instead, pros and cons are laid out for each, and the book is really educational so that the mother and partner can make informed decisions. It's very pro-mother and its theme is that the mother's choices are the right choices for her.
As a co-mother, I found the book to be inclusive of different support partners, as well.
The book also offers a ton of resources with a number of links to videos, references to websites and other books.
It's really a must-have read.