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The Birth Partner, Third Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions (Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, &) Paperback – January 15, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 191 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The Birth Partner is the ultimate guide for mothers, birth coaches, and doulas. There is nothing else so complete, well balanced, and reassuring. --Kathleen Huggins, author of The Nursing Mother's Companion and The Expectant Parents' Companion

Destined to become the birth partner's bible, [this] book provides the answer to many a labor coach's prayer in a comprehensive yet easily referenced fashion. --Marian Thompson, co-founder of La Leche League International

About the Author

Penny Simkin is a physical therapist, doula trainer, and a nationally renowned authority on childbirth. She is co-founder of Pacific Association for Labor Support and of DONA International (formerly Doulas of North America).

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Product Details

  • Series: Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, &
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Common Press; 3 edition (January 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558323570
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558323575
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For first-time parents, giving birth to your little bundle of joy can be nerve-wracking. There is so much you don't know! And not-knowing can be a nasty breeding ground for fear. My wife and I are first-time parents, and while we weren't scared to death, we certainly wanted to know what we were headed towards. Knowing is half the battle, right? Because of how much there is to know, we even thought about hiring a doula (birth coach). Luckily, we found this book...373 pages of confidence-building.

THE BIRTH PARTNER is broken into 4 parts:

1) Before the Birth

This section is largely just introduction to the concept of pregnancy. It contains some good lists to remind you what to prepare to take to the hospital. Probably the most important stuff was on Kegel exercises and the Perineal massage. Oh yeah, and make sure to compile a list of friends and family to call or have someone call.

2) Labor and Birth

This section has crucial information about the pre-labor process, the signs of labor, the "bag of waters" breaking, false vs. true labor, timing contractions (there's a great chart to make copies of), and breeched babies. Her breakdown of the 3 stages of labor is especially helpful.

For those parents attempting a natural birth, she details the 5-1-1 rule for contractions, so you know when to head to the hospital. She walks you through a ton of strategic labor positions to use to relieve pain and allow gravity to do its work toward birthing the baby (these assume you haven't had an epidural...there's a whole section on epidurals and anesthesia).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Penny Simkin's first edition of this book was really helpful to me in my last pregnancy, and this edition is even better. Updated with modern information, my husband is finding it a great tool as I prepare for my third birth and he gets ready for his first homebirth... his daughter was born in a horrible hospital birth so he's really having to adjust his thinking.

He was worried that this book was going to be dry and boring but he hasn't put it down yet. :-) It has enough technical information to keep his "science mind" occupied, and the writing tone is friendly and accessible. He is realizing with the help of this book that he can be an active participant in this birth and that he can really help me by protecting me and making conditions ideal for me to do the work of birthing... this is in stark contrast to the very passive role that he was encouraged to take last time, and how helpless he felt in terms of being able to help his ex-wife as she struggled to birth despite lots of hospital-staff-ordered interventions.

We are also using the book together to identify the things I'd like to have for our birth in terms of people who are there, the atmosphere of the room, and procedures we want/don't want our midwife to do.

We're going through the interventions chapter together and identifying the things that would be 100% fine with us if the midwife thought them necessary, the things we'd tolerate after a risk/benefit discussion, and the things I'd never consent to unless my midwife (who I do trust with my life, and who attended my last birth too) says I'll die or the baby will die without.

We'll certainly have this book around with some tape flags in it during our birth.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you or someone you know is planning to have a baby, and you plan to be there, read this book. It will help you have a birth that is less painful, stressful, and physician-directed than you will have if you do not read it. It covers the normal course of labor and birth, complications in labor, comfort measures for the woman and the role of the birth partner and/or doula, explanations of the many possible interventions and drugs available during labor/birth/postpartum, breastfeeding basics, and care of the mother when she returns home. If you are the partner, this will help you feel that you know what's going on during birth, especially if complications arise, and it will give you lots of ideas for how to help your partner during labor and afterwards.

This book is pretty objective and not biased far towards the "no intervention for any reason/trust birth" camp, nor towards the "birth is a emergency, and babies can DIE!!!!" camp. It will help you clarify YOUR personal preferences and needs for your birth by providing you with knowledge needed to make informed choices based on your medical particulars, pain tolerance, philosophy about childbirth, attitude towards medications and interventions, and your birth setting.

There is a great questionnaire in the book about pain and medication preferences that will really help you decide what medications you might or might not want and at what point in labor you will want them, and a comprehensive list of all the medications, their effects and side-effects on mother and baby, when in the course of labor it is appropriate to receive them, and how they might interact with other drugs offered during labor.
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