Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, 4th edition
by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley, Ann Keppler, Janelle Durham and April Bolding

[2010, Minnesota, MN: Simon and Schuster, 497 pages, paperback.]

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 97, Spring 2011, © 2011, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Toni Rakestraw.]

Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn has been a standard guide for expecting parents since the first edition in 1979. With the 4th edition, the book has undergone some amazing changes. The pages are more graphical in design and easier to search, with each chapter broken into smaller sections. Sidebars break up the text so important information can be pointed out easily to the reader. Lots of sketches and black and white photographs adorn the pages. Easy-to-read charts describe trimester changes, sample fetal movement counts, newborn tests, procedures and much more.

The book covers everything from prenatal nutrition to making a birth plan. Doulas, pain relief options and homebirth are all presented in a fair, evenhanded manner, leaving the reader to decide what options may be best for herself and her baby. The authors have done an excellent job at outlining the many options available to pregnant and birthing women today. There is an entire chapter describing what labor may be like, as well as one about possible complications. I liked that these two were separate; moms-to-be can read about what normally happens, and then go on to learn about possible complications. The book does this with postpartum, too. There is a chapter on cesareans and one on breastfeeding.

The book also includes helpful appendices on common medications used in labor, a summary of normal labor without pain medications and recommended resources that readers may want to pursue. All in all, a wonderful book has been made even better. I would recommend all midwives keep this book in their lending library for new parents. It would also make an excellent baby shower gift.

Reviewer Toni Rakestraw is a freelance editor, writer and artist. She is a frequent volunteer at the Midwifery Today office. She can be contacted at her website.

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