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The Birth Partner

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  4,669 ratings  ·  456 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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4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,669 ratings  ·  456 reviews


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lov2laf
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
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Megan
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.
Joseph
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.
Torey
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
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William
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.
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!
Eric
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
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Kirstin
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
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sylas
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.
Matteo
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
Recommends it for: all those who are going to be involved in a pregnancy/labor
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.
Neil Cribbs
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.
Alexa
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.
Terry
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very anti-intervention in a way that is not necessarily helpful (they have a lot of advice on how to convince your doctor not to make you have an IV drip, for example), but still chock full of genuinely useful information. As with most research, you won't use 90% of it, but you won't know which 10% is useful until you need it. In our case, a situation came up that I would have thought was very risky had I not read the book, but since I did, I knew everyone was still safe.
Shira and Ari Evergreen
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Shira and Ari by: Kate Finn
This book is an extremely detailed guide for anyone who wants to be able to help a woman in labor, which seems like a useful skill, given that half of us humans can and do bear children! It's very empowering to learn how a woman can bring a baby into the world, given the right kind of support. To gain this knowledge is to feel more in tune with other human beings and our origins and capabilities, and to feel less powerless in the face of what seems like suffering (it does involve pain) but is in ...more
Teressa
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jim is reading this to prepare for #minimin and to know how best to support me during natural childbirth. I got bored when I ran out of reading material on the long car ride home to my parents house for baby shower... and picked it up .

I know the pregnant momma is not the intended audience, but this book provided so much insight. It reinforced much of what we covered in our childbirth education classes, so it wasn't a ton of new info for me.

But what I loved was how it gave me clearer idea of wh
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Adam Shafer
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oof. Welp ... the book starts with the forewarning that babies heads commonly become misshapen during birth, then moves onto several pressure points that can cause premature labor, and ends with sore nipples. So you can imagine this was a pretty rough read.
MargaretAnn
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone planning on having a baby
Recommended to MargaretAnn by: Anna
Unlike most of the other baby books that I've bought or received that provide the week-to-week/month-to-month "this is what to expect from your body and how your baby is growing" information, this book particularly focuses on preparing for labor, the stages of labor and childbirth in great detail. Although written for the birth partner (i.e. the mother's spouse, significant other, doula, or trusted friend who will be assisting and advocating for her during childbirth) it's also a great reference ...more
Jason Strayer
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As a father of a pending child, I've now read a small collection of the recommended usuals. This one stands out as the best, most practical, concise, well-formatted read for any partner, from father to partner to friend, who wants to stand strong at the mother's side through the pregnancy and delivery.
I've read through most of the main Peggy Simkin classic on pregnancy and delivery; purchased as part of her series of classes and recommended by many friends. That book is a weighty tome, and it go
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Douglas
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
As an expectant father I looked upon most depictions of expectant fatherhood as a rather passive affair. The father stands by offering cheerleader support and pats on the back while mother does all the painful work in this. There's the dad, standing by looking stunned by everything going on, occasionally offering a "you can do it!" Of course, this depiction is all wrong.

The great thing about Simkin's book is that it makes the partner's role a wholly active one. She fully prepares the partner by
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Bill
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
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Mia
Oct 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Parents to be, Birthing partners
I read this book as a part of my doula training, and have given a copy to every pregnant woman I have known since.

This book was invaluable to me in understanding the actual process of giving birth. So many pregnancy books concentrate on what not to do or lift or eat, what to ask at doctor appointments, what to eat, drink, think, how to sleep, etc. and never actually tell you what the end of the road will be like. This book breaks down the phases of labor - what will happen, how mom may feel, how
...more
Amanda
Mar 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The text is clear and informative. It is not repetitive and tries to only inform about choices and options for delivery, phases of labor, medications, interventions, but the overall opinion that natural (unmedicated) childbirth supported by a doula in a non-hospital setting is definitely the author's recommendation. Because the text is very well organized with flip areas for laymen references on drugs and birth positions (with or without epidural), it would be great to have as a reference if the ...more
Virginia
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Best book for a husband EVER! I had a home birth and was relying heavily on my husband to support me through my labor. My midwives were amazing but didn't show up until I was almost ready to start pushing. If it weren't for my husband knowing what to do to help me through the pain I probably would have given up. He walked behind me, let me drape across him when I needed to, rubbed my back, and just followed me around giving me encouragement. This book is so helpful even if you are having a hospi ...more
Caitlinleah
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: babies, non-fiction
There are so many books out there about your pregnancy. And there are books for dumb dads, too. But there is nothing else like the birth partner. It was just what I was looking for. I gave a copy to Lisa for Mother's Day. It seems like it will be such a valuable resource for describing her feelings, giving her a role, and endless suggestions to help me. I really appreciated its open ended language. I can't tell you how many books, websites, etc may have good information that I just can't process ...more
Jonathan Sargent
I don't think I can give this book an accurate rating until after my child is born.
Charissa
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Not just for the partners - best informative book I've read so far. On stages of labor and most importantly how to deal with it (and for the partner: How to support the mother).
marianne
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: friend-recs
My sister very generously invited me to attend the birth of her baby, and though I was never her actual “birth partner”, I wanted to be prepared, even if just knowing what to expect and how to be supportive to her and her husband if that need arose. This is a really good book for both people who like me want to learn more about labor in general and for those who will have an active role as the mother’s main, non-medical support team. The information covered is expansive and it provides very stru ...more
Katherine
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Katherine by: Dan
Shelves: parenting
This is excellent. It's informative and straightforward, clearly listing out the tradeoffs for all sorts of different decisions, and it doesn't push any particular agenda besides, you know, supporting the birthing mother and the baby. I read the chapters on medical interventions, potential complications, and postpartum expectations at the recommendation of my husband because he said the labor prep class we took covered most of the other material.

If you were to rate a lot of pregnancy/labor&d
...more
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“Try not to take it personally if the mother criticizes you or tells you to stop doing something that you expected to be helpful. Just say, “Sorry,” and stop doing it. Don’t try to explain why you did it or express frustration with her. She is really saying that labor is so difficult right now that nothing helps. You are the safest person for her to lash out at. Later, she will probably apologize.” 1 likes
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