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The Birth Partner

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  6,452 ratings  ·  615 reviews
Fully updated and revised, this guide covers the time from the last few weeksof pregnancy through the early postpartum period. Includes new information onwater birth, labor aids, and epidural anesthesia. 35 illustrations.
Paperback, 2nd edition, 337 pages
Published May 14th 2001 by Harvard Common Press (first published 1989)
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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This is a really fantastic resource for any person in a supportive role to a pregnant woman.

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 medication
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great book on childbirth. She is pro-natural childbirth and I think it shows, but she gives a fairly unbiased view of medical interventions and their pros and cons. Would recommend this to anyone having a baby, borrowed it from the library but I think this is going to be one to own! George will definitely be reading.
Oct 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I can't say strongly enough how indispensable this book is to both partners and mothers. After and with Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth, for me this is the book to read if you're going to be involved in a birth. It has played about the same role for me that the Boy Scout Handbook did when I started camping. Life is easier if you know the taut line hitch; same with the techniques and info in this book. ...more
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the better books I've read for dads. It focuses on concrete information instead making inane jokes and treating men as beer-guzzling lug heads. ...more
Aug 06, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
The overall tone of this book was extremely reassuring, even while discussing possible complications and things not going as planned.

What I enjoyed most: each section of the book (covering a different stage of birth) talked about what the person giving birth might be feeling, and what the birth partner (i.e. me) might be feeling. These were total spectrums, from abject panic to a flood of excitement. This was informed by the co-authors' experience as doulas (not any more-stale clinical data), a
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I've read that is specifically geared towards the labor support person. I found the author very pro-birth, pro-momma, and extremely helpful in advice giving for natural deliveries. She gives straight forward advice, as well as risks/benefits of medical interventions.

I have worked as labor and delivery nurse for 5 yrs and a Childbirth Educator for 3. I think this book would be an excellent addition to the labor and delivery nurse orientation at hospitals. Basic description
Alec Longstreth
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Well, I read this (excellent) book cover to cover. With its knowledge firmly in place, I guess I'm about as ready as I'll ever be for the forthcoming birth of my daughter! ...more
Aug 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing
EVERYTHING you ever might want to know about the days leading up to labour, the labour process, and the first few postpartum weeks. This was recommended by a friend and also our doula. While it's technically written towards the audience of the partner of the person giving birth I found it incredibly comprehensive and useful as the person who will be giving birth as well.

While it doesn't beat around the bush about encouraging one to only use medically necessary interventions, it doesn't have a j
Carmen Frugé
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a good, practical book for expecting mothers and spouses. It was easy to read. I recommend the 3rd edition over the newest (5th I think) because I saw that in the newer edition, the wording of “mother” is changed to “birthing person” to be more inclusive and it cumbersome to read. Not to mention ridiculous.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is my sixth childbirth that I am preparing to attend, so I guess I could say I am somewhat of an expert at being a birth partner!

If you are looking forward to a child birth and are wondering how to support the mother during the process, this is the book to get! It quickly tell you pretty much everything you need to know.

I especially liked this book because Penny Simkin covers the wide range of birth choices without coming off as judgemental. The only time she is critical is when she points
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
The start ratings for these "getting ready to birth a human" books is kind of silly. For those interested, a few quick thoughts on this book though.

What I enjoyed about this book was that it did a pretty good job of giving lots of details on what to expect during the birth. It also seemed to have lots of additional information for people who have non-standard birth plans (home births, etc.) Those sections did not apply to my partner and I, so I cannot speak as to how helpful they were.

The bigges
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
THE best labour and childbirth book I've read to date. While this one is very much for the support person, not the labouring mother, I think mothers, father, doulas, grandmothers-planning-on-being-at-the birth, and labour and delivery nurses would all benefit from reading.

I particularly appreciated the very balanced perspective Simpkin takes on "natural" birth versus medicated birth versus planned induction or c-section. I think she comes as close as anyone could to presenting an unbiased perspe
Jacob Hedlund
Feb 28, 2022 rated it did not like it
If you get this book, I highly recommend getting the 4th version or earlier. I had the unpleasant experience of reading the 5th version and it is so soaked in politically correct jargon, it makes it a little hard to read.

The authors refuse to use the term "mother" to describe the human being that is giving birth to the baby. I am not joking. They refer to her as "birthing person", "laboring person" or even "lactating person". Once again, I am not joking. This is seriously how this book is writte
Andrea Berardi
Oct 19, 2021 rated it liked it
My friend (studying to become a doula) gifted me this book. I discussed with her how I wanted to try an unmedicated, natural birth but I am only comfortable birthing in a hospital setting with an OB present. I also do not feel comfortable hiring a doula due to COVID and general self-reliance that my husband and I can get though the birthing process as a family, while advocating for ourselves and our desired birth plan.

The author (who is a doula) telling the reader that they couldn’t possibly gi
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fict, self-help
This book seems super helpful. I like that it lays outs really detailed, specific and accessible information about what to expect during birth. But that it also includes a lot of information about how the birthing person and the support/companion person might *feel* in response to particular scenarios. I feel better prepared for our birth as a result of this book.

Cons: really gendered language around the gestational parent. Could be more inclusive of families other than the heteronormative.
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read the 4th edition of The Birth Partner. Well-written book with many quick, easily digestible summaries for a lay-person (like me) to understand the many aspects of pregnancy, birth, and newborn care that an individual and partner may experience. Needless to say, I have bookmarked many pages for quick reference as my wife and I enter the final stages of pregnancy and prepare for life as first-time parents.
Sarah Jane
Aug 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: haveread
Though the majority of people that I know who own this book are doulas, this book is made for anyone who is going to support someone through pregnancy and labor. It is really basic and very detail oriented. I usually use this book as a reference guide while working with women in labor doing doula work, and its amazing for that! Theres really no other book like it.
Haines Eason
A fantastic, detail-rich guide preparing those planning to play a support role during a birth. The book makes for slow reading at times per its density, but Simpkin’s thoroughness is to be respected. Only three stars instead of four because of countless truly atrocious typographical errors—this book is in its fourth edition!—which at times were laughable and at other times infuriating.
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Way more hippie than I am (there is a subsection on taking your placenta home from the hospital, no joke).

1. Explains what to expect at the hospital in just the right level of detail -- super thorough with nice diagrams and tables
2. Lays out all of the choices you will be asked to make and what your options are in a judgement free way (although the author clearly has some of her own preferences)
3. Uses gender neutral language which it turns out makes me less likely to want to scream at ever
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We're closing in on less than two weeks for our first birth and we've read MANY books relating to pregnancy and childbirth. This book was given to us by close friends with a recent birth and their doula gifted it to them. It's incredibly insightful. Many times we found ourselves at ease about questions we had that were complete enigmas (even with the internet) or fleeting happenings we didn't think to research. It's very good regarding the last few weeks and hours up until the actual birth. Can' ...more
Emma Sedlak
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: doula-training
Finishing reading while we’re all waiting in the delivery suite with a doula client about to go into labour!

I really appreciate the new version updated for inclusive language and scenarios of all different kinds of families.
Jillian Vicinanza
The ultimate resource for doulas and partners. There’s really no end to this book since you dip and close when you need to, but there’s so much great information. Highly recommend it if you are pregnant!
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great down to earth information and advice for anyone who will be supporting a birthing parent before, during, and after the birth.
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a great book to read with your partner. Opens discussion and communication for all possible outcomes. Highly recommend!
Feb 27, 2022 rated it really liked it
Very informative and digesto bale however needs more inclusive language
Jakub Dolecki
Sep 06, 2022 rated it really liked it
Good book but nothing can prepare you for birth.
Elizabeth Gajdosik
FINALLY. After seven months I'm now equipped for the doula workshop. ...more
Danielle Miller
Nov 22, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Must read if pregnant or assisting someone who is pregnant.
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book to kick off my doula journey! I just wish Simkin's editors would help her move into the 21st century a little more gracefully; it is glaringly obvious that additions were made to include same-sex couples and not only husbands. ...more
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Practical and useful. I really appreciate how realistic the expectations are set. Just about everything you and your partner want to know.
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