Penny Simkin writes, "How a woman gives birth matters--to her baby's long-term health, to her family (including her relationship with her partner), and to her mental and physical health and her self-confidence and self-esteem as a woman and a mother" (The Birth Partner, Fourth Edition, p. xi). Because this is true, Simkin also asserts that "How a woman is cared for and supported during birth is a major influence, not only in how she gives birth but also in how she feels about it" (p. xi). Quality support during birth is important. The way women are supported during birth affects how they birth, how they feel about it, and how the experience impacts their roles and relationships for a lifetime.
Given the importance of high-quality support during birth, wouldn't it be nice if support people (husbands, partners, family, and doulas) had a manual for how to give high-quality support? The Birth Partner answers this call. The book is a comprehensive go-to for support people during the last week's of pregnancy and birth. It's written by Penny Simkin, the co-founder of DONA International, the largest and oldest doula training and certifying organization.
In The Birth Partner, Simkin writes to spouses and partners to help them prepare to be an active and supportive participant in the birth process. She describes in detail what to expect in the final weeks of pregnancy and through each stage of labor, and how birth partners can be helpful at each stage, while also caring for their own physical and emotional needs. Throughout the book, Simkin also briefly discusses the doula's role during labor and birth and how it complements the husband/partner's role.
She then describes some of the common tests, interventions, and procedures that may be recommended during pregnancy and labor and gives a framework for making informed decisions. In this section, Simkin does normalize some interventions that aren't necessary in many healthy pregnancies, but that's my biggest (and most nit-picky) complaint about the book. The book closes with a section on the first few days postpartum, and Simkin again shares helpful information and tips about how to be a supportive help at home in the days after birth.
In all, The Birth Partner is an info-packed and accessible guide for preparing to support someone through the experience of giving birth. I keep multiple copies of it in my Lending Library so that my clients can benefit from reading it! If you'd like to get a taste for an abridged version of The Birth Partner, Penny Simkin also published a pamphlet, "Comfort in Labor," that touches on many of the same topics covered in The Birth Partner. If, after reading "Comfort in Labor," you feel that you want more, then The Birth Partner is probably for you!
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Hi, I'm Sara. I'm a childbirth educator and birth + postpartum doula serving Utah county. I'm a twin mom (plus one!), natural VBACer, and birth lover!