The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth

Once upon a time I gave birth to Sarah. I had wanted a natural childbirth, but only attended one Lamaze class with Lane. We were young, busy college students and didn’t go back.

One class wasn’t enough preparation to deliver naturally. My water broke, and Sarah was posterior, causing discomfort with the back labor during contractions. After some time, I asked the nurse if I could have something to help with the pain that wasn’t an epidural. She said I could try “Nubain,” a narcotic that caused me to be so sleepy that I could hardly stay awake. I hated it.

Feeling drugged

I was able to deliver Sarah after nearly 8 hours of active labor (including more than 2 hours of pushing). I decided that the way I felt during this birth experience due to the medication was not one I wanted to repeat. I set out to learn more.

I went to the library and checked out whatever I could find on childbirth. I learned about something called a “doula,” or childbirth coach. Then I learned that Lane’s cousin, who was studying to become a midwife, was a doula. We contacted her, and she generously offered to be our doula for free!

Finding a doula

My second childbirth experience was so much more empowering! I had read quite a bit and was more mentally prepared. When Nathan came 9 days late, and my water broke again, I was ready to have Marianne guide me through the experience. She did a phenomenal job helping me with guided visualization and other techniques, and Baby Nate was born about 4 hours later. I left the hospital just 12 hours later, feeling so much better and so much happier!

When I was pregnant with Julia, I hired a doula who helped me through all but one of the rest of my pregnancies and childbirths. (She was out of town for Anna’s birth, but had a wonderful back-up doula that we loved as well.) I also attended natural childbirth classes. Over time, I was able to have 5 natural childbirths. The other two births (my fourth and sixth births) were an emergency C-section and another back labor, that I decided I did NOT want to do without some relief. I had epidurals for both.

Training to become a doula

When I was pregnant with Rebecca, I decided to train to become a doula. That was also a wonderful experience. During that training, I discovered this book, The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, which I have lent to multiple expectant mothers over the years. It is a wonderful resource to help a woman learn what she can to do have a better birth experience, including how, with the help of another person (husband, doula, friend, etc.) alleviate some of the pain of childbirth and deal with the stress involved in this beautiful yet intense experience.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not against epidurals! I just believe that if you don’t need medication, why take the risk and spend hundreds of dollars for something you don’t need?

Learn more; become empowered

Knowledge really is power. I encourage all new (or not new) expectant mothers to learn more about pregnancy and childbirth and actively plan how they can have a positive birth experience. I believe that sharing this book as part of our Friendship Library Project can help more mothers do just that.

If you receive this book from a friend as part of the RACFLP, we’d love to hear what you think! Please comment below. If you’d like, please tell us in which state or country you live. If the comment form below doesn’t work, you are welcome to email me: liz (at) Thank you!

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