The Birth Partner
by Penny Simkin
5 of 5 stars
This book is amazing, amazing, AMAZING! I can't recommend it enough. It's the most practical, useful book i may have ever read in my life. The entire thing is pure advice, tips, and insight to what you will experience, generally speaking (the most common ways women progress through labor, etc). The book is written for the birth partner (aka, dad [although she does a very subtle, PC job of saying at the beginning, this could mean lover, gay partner, boyfriend, parent, etc]), but is clearly for the mom too.
So basically the book starts off at the last few weeks of pregnancy and goes into "what kind of birth partner will you be" and "how you will feel" at different moments throughout the labor. She offers a list of questions for reflection of the most common feelings... How will i feel when: she asks me to take time off to go to prenatal appointments with her, she tells me she signed us up for 12-18 hours of birth classes, she asks me to read this book... Haha. I love it. ...i'm tired or hungry but she needs my help during every contraction, she criticizes me (not like that, don't touch me, don't breathe on me, don't leave me). Then she later in the book she goes into "answering" those, or rather, how you can deal with the most common emotions for each stage.
She provides a list of things to do to get ready for labor, the list of supplies you should pack to take to the hospital for you, for the mother, and for the baby. She lists exercises you should be doing to prepare for birth (pelvic rocks, the birth squat, kegels, etc), and massages (perineals). She discusses how to track kick counts, what should be in your birth plan, including labor options, birth options, and after-birth options, what the minimal supplies are you need to care for a new infant/ to take them home, and how to best be prepared with things a lot of people don't think about (like choosing a pediatrician before the baby arrives).
In the labor part, she breaks down the physical attributes of what's actually happening inside your body during each stage, the factors that play a role and what happens in each (size of the baby, condition of the cervix, position of the baby's head, mother's emotional state), and then the signs of labor and how to tell pre-labor from active labor (possible signs, preliminary signs, positive signs), what happens in each stage, both with your body and with what she will experience and feel, and when to know when to do what. She explains how to time contractions and provides a chart, and in each section of the stages of labor, she breaks it down into what it is, how long it will last, how the mother will feel (a handful of the most common ones; ie - confusion, excitement, fear, doubt, encouragement, fatigue, worry), how you may feel, what the caregiver will do, and how you (the birth partner) can help.
By the end, she provides a slew of positions (with pictures) the mom can labor in that helps ease contractions, including ones that will help with specific 'problems': a breech baby, back labor, etc. And positions to birth in.
Seriously, amazing. (also, every doula we interviewed before choosing one, when i would mention we were reading this book, they all said "oh i have that in my bag with me right now. I use that for every birth i attend. It's amazing"). It's "the birth partner's bible". I will be recommending this to every woman i know expecting.
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