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The Birth Partner

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  5,579 ratings  ·  526 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 4.31  · 
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 ·  5,579 ratings  ·  526 reviews

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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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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. ...more
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just in the nick of time...the most important comprehensive of my life thus far - how much useful info have I actually absorbed?
Nick Paine
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very helpful resource for anything birth-related, especially for new dads like me who knew nothing of the beauty (and difficulty) of childbirth. I highly recommend as a resource or guidebook to reference throughout a couple’s child-bearing years.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
30 likes · 11 comments
“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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