Book Review: The Birth Partner (Third Edition)

0808 The Birth Partner BookcoverSince I tend to judge a book by its cover, my first glance at The Birth Partner suggested to me that I may be in for a boring read. I mean, let's face it, this book does have a rather dull and colorless binding.
But I was oh so wrong. Instead of being a bore, it was rather impressive.
Author Penny Simkin is a renowned educator, lecturer, and counselor on the subject of childbirth. I found her knowledge and gentle demeanor to be very refreshing and easy to read.


The book focuses mainly on the birth partner. This could be the dad, doula, mom, friend, or anyone who is going to be an active participant in the birth. The main points of the book are as follows:

Before the Birth: The last few weeks of pregnancy.
Labor and Birth: Getting into labor; Moving through the stages of labor; Comfort measures; Challenging labors.
The Medical Side of Childbirth: Tests & interventions; Complications; Pain medications; Cesarean & VBAC.
After the Birth: The first few days; Getting started with breastfeeding.

I loved the fact that for each stage of labor, the book discusses what the mother may be feeling, what you as the birth partner may be feeling, what you can do to help her, and what the doula may do to help you both.

There is a chart of different positions that may be used during labor and delivery to ease pain, as well as the unique contributions they give to the laboring body. There is also a section devoted to different tests, procedures, and medications, as well as their purposes, their disadvantages, and any alternatives that may be considered.  

This book not only talks about ways to comfort your loved one during contractions, but it touches on practically every aspect of labor and delivery. It is not only for those who are considering a "natural" childbirth, but it can be used by those who have medical interventions, cesareans, VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), and challenging labors.

Mae Tompson, La Leche's League co-founder, says that this book is "the birth partner's bible".
I tend to agree with her.


I recommend this read to any and every birth partner who is planning on being an active participant in the birth process. Whether you are a doula, a husband, a family member, or a friend who wishes to help out, you may find a wonderful resource in this book.

I strongly recommend this book to birth doulas. It is a great resource to have on hand in your birth bag, as well as to have available to your clients.

Favorite Quotes:

"How a woman gives birth matters-- to her baby, her family, and to her self-confidence and self-esteem.....How a woman is cared for and supported during birth is a major influence..."  --p. xi

"The kind of care a woman receives and the quality of the support during labor make the difference in whether she looks back on her birth experience with satisfaction and fulfillment or with disappointment and sadness."  --p. 39

"There is something magical about your holding your baby close-- especially skin-to-skin -- gazing at him while he gazes back, and talking or singing to him."  --p. 338

Happy Reading :)