The Birth Partner - Revised 4th Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions

The Birth Partner - Revised 4th Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions

by Penny Simkin
The Birth Partner - Revised 4th Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions

The Birth Partner - Revised 4th Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions

by Penny Simkin


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Since the original publication of The Birth Partner, new mothers' mates, friends, and relatives and doulas (professional birth assistants) have relied on Penny Simkin's guidance in caring for the new mother from the last few weeks of pregnancy through the early postpartum period. Fully revised in its fourth edition, The Birth Partner remains the definitive guide for preparing to help a woman through childbirth and the essential manual to have at hand during the event. This completely updated edition includes thorough information on: Preparing for labor and knowing when it has begun; Normal labor and how to help the woman every step of the way; Epidurals and other medications for labor; Non-drug techniques for easing labor pain; Cesarean birth and complications that may require it; Breastfeeding and newborn care; And much more. For the partner who wishes to be truly helpful in the birthing room, this book is indispensable.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558328198
Publisher: Harvard Common Press, The
Publication date: 10/01/2013
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Penny Simkin, P.T., is a physical therapist, childbirth educator, doula, and birth counselor. She is nationally recognized as a premier authority on childbirth, having helped 9,000 expecting women and birth partners in childbirth and attended hundreds of couples though the birth process. Simkin is a prolific author and serves on more than ten different consultant and editorial boards, including the journal Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care, The International Childbirth Education Association, and The Seattle Midwifery School, where she also provides training for doulas and lectures for the students. She has written myriad books, journal and magazine articles. She is also co-founder of DONA International (formerly Doulas of North America) and The Pacific Association for Labor Support. In addition to providing childbirth education, birth counseling, and labor support, Simkin travels extensively throughout the country, lecturing and presenting at conferences and workshops. For more information, please visit Simkin's website at

Table of Contents

Preface to the Fourth Edition xi

Acknowledgments xvi

How to Use This Book xix

Part 1 Before the Birth 1

1 The Last Weeks of Pregnancy 3

What Kind of Birth Partner Will You Be? 4

Getting Ready for Labor 6

Preparing for Life with the Baby 30

On to the Next Step … 36

Part 2 Labor and Birth 37

2 Getting into Labor 39

Prelabor and the Labor Process 40

How Long Will Labor Last? 43

Signs of Labor 44

If Her Bag of Waters Breaks Before Labor Begins 47

"False" Labor, or Prelabor 49

Labor Progresses in Six Ways 50

Timing Contractions 53

3 Moving Through the Stages of Labor 57

Compare Labor to Running a Marathon 58

Prelabor 61

The First, or Dilation Stage 65

The Birthing Stage 89

The Placental Stage 102

Normal Labor-in a Nutshell 106

4 Comfort Measures for Labor 111

Pain versus Suffering 112

The Three Rs: Relaxation, Rhythm, and Ritual 114

Self-Help Comfort Measures 121

Comfort Aids and Devices 142

Comforting Techniques for You to Try 151

Taking Care of Yourself 161

Checklist of Comfort Measures for Labor 162

5 Strategies for Challenging Variations in Normal Labor 165

The Take-Charge Routine 166

On-the-Spot Coaching (When You Have Had No Childbirth Classes) 170

The Very Rapid Labor 171

The Emergency Delivery 173

When Labor Must Start (Labor-Stimulating Measures) 175

The Slow-to-Start Labor 180

Slow Progress in Active Labor and the Birthing Stage, with or without Back Pain 184

When the Mother Must Labor in Bed 188

A Breech Baby 190

A Previous Disappointing or Traumatic Birth Experience 194

Incompatibility with the Nurse or Caregiver 197

Part 3 The Medical Side of Childbirth 201

Key Questions for Informed Decision Making 202

6 Tests, Technologies, Interventions, and Procedures 205

Late-Pregnancy Tests 205

Essential Observations During Labor 209

Conditions Influencing the Amount of Intervention 211

Common Obstetric Interventions 212

7 Complications in Late Pregnancy, Labor, or Afterward 237

Complications for the Mother 238

The Breech Presentation 251

Complications with Labor Progress 251

Complications with the Fetus 256

Complications with the Newborn 261

After It Is All Over 267

8 Medications for Pain During Labor 269

Management of Normal Labor without Pain Medications 270

What You Both Need to Know About Pain Medications 272

The Mother's Decisions Regarding Pain Medications During Labor 290

Pain Medications Preference Scale 294

9 Cesarean Birth, and Vaginal Birth After Cesarean 305

Know the Nonmedical Reasons for Cesarean Birth and Factors to Consider 307

Know the Medical Reasons for Cesarean Birth 308

Know What to Expect During Cesarean Birth 310

Your Role During and After a Cesarean Birth 317

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) 320

Part 4 After the Birth 325

10 The First Few Days Postpartum 327

The First Few Hours 327

The First Few Days for the Baby 337

The First Few Days for the Mother 343

Homecoming 347

After a Home Birth 349

Getting Help and Advice 350

The Mother's Postpartum Emotions 351

What About Your Feelings? 354

Practical Matters at Home 354

11 Getting Started with Breastfeeding 361

Advantages of Breastfeeding 361

Getting Off to a Good Start 364

Early Concerns 365

When to Give the Baby a Bottle 372

Once Breastfeeding Is Established 374

Parting Words 375

Recommended Resources 377

Index 383

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