Christy Ford's Reviews > Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Penny Simkin
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's review
Mar 02, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: parenting
Read in November, 2011 — I own a copy

After checking out stacks and stacks of pregnancy books from the library, this is the one I purchased. It isn't a perfect, be-all-end-all resource to everything you'd ever want to know, but it avoids most of the pitfalls of pregnancy books, and has solid, usable information, including the best explanations of medical interventions I have found.

First, the book treats the reader with respect. It is amazing how uncommon this is in pregnancy literature. It assumes that while the mother may not know much about pregnancy and childbirth, that they are otherwise intelligent, emotionally stable, and capable of making decisions for themselves. Yeah, that shouldn't have to be a major, positive feature, but in this genre, it absolutely is.

It gives reasonable pregnancy advice, backed up by clear explanations, and espouses moderation rather than the all-too-common 'if you do X, your baby will DIE!'. It is clear about when a pregnancy recommendation is firmly supported by research, and when it is more of a anecdotal good idea. It (shock and awe) lists EXCEPTIONS to its suggestions, and ultimately leaves it up to the mother to decide what level of paranoia she wants to go for.

The reasonable, explanatory attitude continues though the sections on labor and birth. This book had the most thorough and evenhanded discussion of interventions I have found so far. When listing negative side effects, it explains both the hard, medical ones (nausea, drop in blood pressure, increased chance of hemorrhage...) and the softer, circumstantial ones (needing more monitoring, slowing progress, needing to stay in bed...), and, again, explains why the side effects are related.

The book has a slight slant towards natural birth, but never attempts to guilt the reader into anything. In discussing natural coping techniques, it again lists pros and cons of different practices (compared to each other and compared to more medical ones), and guides the reader though deciding what would be best for them.

What this book isn't:
If you are looking for really detailed how-to on natural labor coping techniques, you won't find that here. This book has an overview of those topics, but probably not enough to really use all by itself. While it is more targeted at husbands or birth workers, I would actually recommend The Birth Partner as my favorite resource for that sort of information.

Also, while there is some information on development, science on how the body's systems work and change through pregnancy isn't this book's strongest suit. Instead, it's more of a practical guide, and doesn't go into a ton of detail about those sort of facts that are interesting more from an intellectual curiosity point of view. Not really a fault, just outside of the scope.

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