The Birth Partner is an excellent book both, as the title suggests, for those who will love and help a woman through birth, and also for birthing women themselves. I highly recommend that this makes it to the top of your to-read pile.
Penny Simpkin is a very experienced doula. Her experiences helping women open to and work with the forces of birthing is very evident throughout this incredibly practical and realistic book. For a husband or partner, or aspiring doula, The Birth Partner will serve as a great introduction to what to expect laboring women to do, and how to be a truly effective helper. If you are preparing to give birth, the suggestions will help you create an internal picture of how you might work through labor and what you can do in your body and mind to find your way.
Another fabulous feature of The Birth Partner is its acknowledgement of the emotions and needs that come along with being a birth companion. These feelings include both those that may come up from watching someone you love in pain and also the feelings you may have when your hard work is unseen or unacknowledged in the face of all mom is going through.
The Birth Partner is well referenced and easy to skim or review. While that is a nice feature, I encourage you to read it once slowly and thoughtfully, taking time to explore your responses and imagine or practice the hands on comfort techniques and emotional encouragement. This enactment of the ideas and the memories you create through visualization will help the techniques really sink into your mind. This way, you will be able to access them again when labor is actually happening. Flipping to the summary pages and looking for tips or refreshers during labor is an unrealistic idea unless things are moving slowly and you are looking for tips on how to intensify labor. Assuming all is well, you won’t have time and you’ll be too needed to turn back to the book.
The Birth Partner’s Author, Penny Simpkin
Penny Simpkin, PT, is a physical therapist who has specialized in childbirth education since 1968. She trains childbirth educators, doulas, and doula-trainers and frequently conducts workshops for doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. She and her husband have four grown children.