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Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn (4th Edition): The Complete Guide 4th Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 218 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 858-0001049175
ISBN-10: 143917511X
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Editorial Reviews


“This is the ultimate guide to all aspects of birthing. It is a must for all pregnant women and those who love them!”

—Christiane Northrup, MD, Author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause

“Women can only make informed choices when they’re able to get comprehensive information on the many decisions that come up during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period. This book provides such information. I heartily recommend it to all pregnant women!”

—Ina May Gaskin, Author of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding, and Spiritual Midwifery

“Current research, wisdom, and women’s voices together create the most comprehensive book on understanding your options. It will educate, inspire, and nurture you to make informed decisions as you welcome your baby into the world.”

—Debra Pascali-Bonaro LCCE, CD (DONA), PCD (DONA), Coauthor of Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying and Pleasurable Birth Experience; director, Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret

“Once again the authors have provided the right information, at the right time, and have delivered it with the kind of reassuring expertise that helps expectant parents prepare for the most meaningful moment of their lives.”

—Bernie Dorsey, Founder of Conscious Fathering

“This is the revision we have been waiting for! It is the best book for parents…and a wonderful resource.”

—Kathleen A. Lindstrom, CD (DONA), LCCE, FACCE, Perinatal Program Manager, Douglas College, Coquitlam, BC

“This book is authoritative without feeling overwhelming. It keeps the woman and her family in focus and provides a range of options. If expectant parents could have one book, this would be the one.”

—Trish Booth, MA, LCCE, FACCE, Childbirth education consultant, Manlius, NY

“A truly wonderful book for expectant families. It’s informative, thorough, and helpful. We give it to all our patients, and they think it’s great, too!”

—Carolyn Kline, MD, MPH, Perinatologist Eastside Maternal Fetal Medicine, Kirkland and Bellevue, WA

“The material is beautifully organized and the presentation is crystal clear.”

—Sheila Kitzinger, Author of The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth

“For the most part, pregnancy books are written for and read by women, but if you’re a caring father (or father-to-be), this is an outstanding book. It gives the fairest and most complete descriptions of the myriad medical options available during childbirth. It is the best of the many books available.”

—Tom Seager, father of three, Potsdam, NY

"Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn has been a standard guide for expecting parents since the first edition in 1979. With the 4th edition, the book has undergone some amazing changes. The pages are more graphical in design and easier to search, with each chapter broken into smaller sections. Sidebars break up the text so important information can be pointed out easily to the reader. Lots of sketches and black and white photographs adorn the pages. Easy-to-read charts describe trimester changes, sample fetal movement counts, newborn tests, procedures and much more.

The book covers everything from prenatal nutrition to making a birth plan. Doulas, pain relief options and homebirth are all presented in a fair, evenhanded manner, leaving the reader to decide what options may be best for herself and her baby. The authors have done an excellent job at outlining the many options available to pregnant and birthing women today. There is an entire chapter describing what labor may be like, as well as one about possible complications. I liked that these two were separate; moms-to-be can read about what normally happens, and then go on to learn about possible complications. The book does this with postpartum, too. There is a chapter on cesareans and one on breastfeeding.

The book also includes helpful appendices on common medications used in labor, a summary of normal labor without pain medications and recommended resources that readers may want to pursue. All in all, a wonderful book has been made even better. I would recommend all midwives keep this book in their lending library for new parents. It would also make an excellent baby shower gift."

Toni Rakestraw, Midwifery Today Issue 97

About the Author

Penny Simkin, a physical therapist, has been a childbirth educator and doula since 1968. She trains childbirth educators, doulas, and doula-trainers and frequently conducts workshops for doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.

Janet Whalley, a registered nurse and lactation consultant (IBCLC), has been a childbirth educator since 1975.

Ann Keppler, a registered nurse, parish nurse, and lactation specialist, has taught childbirth classes and new-parent classes since 1975.

Janelle Durham, a social worker, has worked with new parents since 1993. She is a birth doula, childbirth educator, and lactation educator.

April Bolding has a doctorate in physical therapy and is a childbirth educator, birth doula, water fitness instructor, and author.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Meadowbrook; 4th edition (July 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 143917511X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439175118
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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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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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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