The Birth Partner 5th Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Partners, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions

The Birth Partner 5th Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Partners, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions

by Penny Simkin


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Since the original publication of The Birth Partner, partners, friends, relatives, and doulas have relied on Penny Simkin's guidance in caring for the new mother, from her last trimester through the early postpartum period.

Now fully revised in its fifth edition, The Birth Partner remains the definitive guide to helping a woman through labor and birth, and the essential manual to have at hand during the event. The Birth Partner 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
  • Pitocin and other means, including natural ones, to induce or speed up 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: 9781558329102
Publisher: Harvard Common Press, The
Publication date: 10/09/2018
Pages: 440
Sales rank: 18,242
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Penny Simkin, PT, 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 10 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 to students. She has written myriad books, journal, and magazine articles. Simkin 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 8

Acknowledgments 13

How to Use this Book 16

A Note To Doulas 18

Part 1 Before the Birth 19

1 The Last Weeks of Pregnancy 20

What Kind of Birth Partner Will You Be 21

Getting Ready for Labor 23

Preparing for Life with the Baby 51

On to the Next Step … 59

Part 2 Labor and Birth 60

2 Getting into Labor 62

The Difference Between Prelabor and Labor 63

How Long Will Labor Last? 66

Signs of Labor 67

If the Bag of Waters Breaks Before Labor Begins 71

"False" Labor, or Prelabor 72

Labor Progresses in Six Ways 74

Timing Contractions 77

3 Moving Through the Stages of Labor 81

Compare Labor to Running a Marathon 82

Prelabor 85

The Dilation, First, Stage 90

Early Labor 92

Getting into Active Labor (3 to 5 Centimeters Dilation) 99

Active Labor 102

Transition 109

The Birthing, Second, Stage 116

The Resting Phase 117

The Descent Phase 121

The Crowning and Birth Phase 127

The Placental, Third, Stage 131

The Recovery and Bonding, Fourth, Stage 135

Normal Labor-in a Nutshell 138

4 Comfort Measures for Labor 143

Pain versus Suffering 144

The Three Rs: Relaxation, Rhythm, and Ritual 147

Self-Help Comfort Measures 153

Comfort Aids and Devices 176

Comforting Techniques 187

Taking Care of Yourself 197

Checklist of Comfort Measures for Labor 198

5 Strategies for Challenging Variations in Normal Labor 201

The Take-Charge Routine 202

On-the-Spot Coaching (When You Have Had No Childbirth Classes) 206

The Very Rapid Labor 207

The Emergency Delivery 209

When Labor Must Start (Labor-Stimulating Measures) 212

The Slow-to-Start Labor 216

Slow Progress in Active Labor and the Birthing Stage-with or without Back Pain 221

When the Birthing Person Must Labor in Bed 224

A Breech Baby 226

A Previous Disappointing or Traumatic Birth Experience 231

Incompatibility with the Nurse or Caregiver 233

Part 3 The Medical Side of Childbirth 236

Key Questions for Informed Decision-Making 237

6 Tests, Technologies, Interventions, and Procedures 239

Late-Pregnancy Tests 240

Essential Observations During Labor 243

Conditions Influencing the Use of intervention Daring Labor 245

Common Obstetric Interventions 246

7 Complications in Late Pregnancy, Labor, or Afterward 270

Complications for the Pregnant Person 272

Complications with Labor Progress 285

Complications with the Fetus 290

Complications in the Placental Stage 295

Complications with the Newborn 297

After It Is All Over 303

8 Medications for Pain During Labor 304

Management of Normal Labor without Pain Medications 305

What You Both Need to Know About Pain Medications 307

Know How the Birthing Person Feels About Using Pain Medications 326

9 Cesarean Birth and Vaginal Birth After Cesarean 340

Know the Nonmedical Reasons for Cesarean Birth and Factors to Consider 341

Know the Medical Reasons for Cesarean Birth 343

Know What to Expect During Cesarean Birth 346

Your Role During and After a Cesarean Birth 353

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) and Trial of Labor after Cesarean (TOLAC) 356

Part 4 After the Birth 363

10 The First Days Postpartum 364

The First Few Hours 364

The First Few Days for the Baby 376

The First Few Days for the Birthing Parent 382

Homecoming 387

After a Home Birth 388

Getting Help and Advice 389

Postpartum Emotions 390

What About Your Feelings 392

Practical Matters at Home 394

11 Getting Started with Feeding Your Baby 400

Reasons for Breast-Feeding/Chest-Feeding 401

Getting Off to a Good Start 403

How to Offer Support Related to Infant Feeding Early Concerns 405

When to Give the Baby a Bottle 414

Once Breast-Feeding/Chest-Feeding Is Established 416

Parting Words 417

Recommended Resources 418

Index 428

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