The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin When I prepared to give birth, I hired a doula, a professional birth support person. She made a huge difference in making the whole birth experience smoother and more positive, and I recommend hiring a doula to anyone giving birth. But, suppose you can’t hire a doula? Suppose you want your parenting partner or your best friend to come to the birth with you? Or, that such a person wants to educate him or herself to be able to help you even if you have a doula as well. In that case, you want this book. It covers pregnancy, birth and newborn care from the perspective of a partner, rather than the mother or a medical professional. It includes such topics as preparing for labor, helping the mother find an effective labor coping pattern, common medical interventions, their side effects and risks and how to discuss them with hospital staff, what to do if there is a personality conflict between the mother and the assigned nurse or doctor, and how to best support a mother in labor who’s changed her mind about what she wants from her birth plan. I read the old, falling-apart edition that my midwifery still keeps. This edition placed rather more stress on the importance of learning and practicing several breathing patterns than is currently in vogue (my birth class instructor said that practicing breathing before you were in labor was like practicing breathing for a marathon without running); I don’t know if the new edition has changed. Overall, however, the information was extremely helpful. There are even helpful summary pages labeled in white text on darker bars on the sides of pages, so you can fan out the pages and find the part you need in the heat of things. Simkin is the founder of Doulas of North America/DONA, and this book is required reading for many doula training courses as well.
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