Reviews of Doulas' Guide to Birthing Your Way

ICEA’S Review of Doulas’ Guide

Review by Simone from ICEA
Doula’s Guide to Birthing Your Way
By Jan S. Mallak and Teresa F. Bailey
Doulaspeak. That is what I am going to call it from now on. I really enjoyed reading this book because I could tell (let’s pretend it’s not in the title) that it was written by a doula. I felt comforted and reassured by their words because I have used the exact same words and/or phrases myself.
As soon as I began reading I knew it would be a positive experience-believe me-not all books about birth are exciting to read. I knew this would be different because right on the very first page I read, “how you feel about your birth actually affects the physical outcome.” We know this as doulas but many pregnant women don’t realize that they have some emotional work to do too. It is significant that this message is sent right at the beginning. This idea is just one of the many important concepts lying at the foundation of this book.
I tried to approach the book as two separate beings. I read as an expectant mom (no I am not currently pregnant) and as a doula. After all the authors boast that the book was written for mom and her doula. As a pretend pregnant woman the information was laid out in a way that would resonate with me. Each chapter began with a story, then provided information, and then most of them ended with an exercise or activity to help wrap it all up. This is a fabulous technique because in addition to the educational benefit it really encourages mom to take an active role.
As a doula I definitely had a few favorite chapters. The first chapter was entitled “Human Environment” and I loved it. We spend so much time talking about where to give birth that we forget it doesn’t matter where you are as much as who is with you. It was a refreshing reminder. It also introduced another one of those underlying concepts found throughout the book-that of creating a positive relationship and engaging in dialogue with your care providers and birth team.
Naturally I also favored the chapter on the “Five Arms of Doula Support.” There are so many reasons why a couple will choose to work with a doula but this chapter was presented so beautifully that I am sure the image of five arms of support will come up again in my own conversations about the benefits of doulas.
When I first started working as a doula my biggest challenge was figuring out when a mom really wanted pain medication and when she was just asking for more support. I literally jumped for joy when I came across a chart in the book called “hints on knowing if and when drugs are needed.” This is a great tool for doulas and anyone else who is planning on supporting a woman in labor (hint hint-partners).
The authors covered a number of topics of interest to mothers and doulas. As a childbirth educator reading books about birth can sometimes be redundant so it’s important to present topics in a way that is refreshing as well as inspiring. The section on epidurals was memorable because it started out discussing the “epidural epidemic.” Of course they went into the risks and benefits as any quality childbirth book should do but there was something about the way it was presented that did a bit more than inform-it made you think about the larger implications of overusing any medical procedure.
I was also thoroughly impressed by the chapter on pushing. I sometimes find it difficult to teach or discuss second stage because it is one of those things that you just won’t really understand until you go through it. I do my best to convey what I can and I thought this chapter was well planned out. They covered the phases of pushing, the role gravity can play, laboring down, perineal support and the different sensations one may experience. It was a very thorough and descriptive chapter that will be much appreciated by many. Each chapter encouraged the reader to explore their beliefs and understand their options. Breastfeeding, postpartum, Cesarean, VBACS-covered.
My absolute favorite part of the book appeared at the end. Sure-the checklists, charts and activities throughout the chapters were gifts in and of themselves but my true joy was unleashed when I turned to the last chapter-“Creating your own Birth Vision.” This chapter is filled with activities and information to help mom create a vision of her ideal birth based on her personal philosophy, preferences and priorities. If I didn’t already fully endorse this book this last chapter alone would have sealed the deal.
I wasn’t sure it was possible but I am even more proud to call myself a doula. We kinda Rock!

Polly Perez’ Review of Doulas’ Guide to Birthing Your Way

Giving birth is something women will remember the rest of their life! Doulas’ Guide to Birthing Your Way helps lead the pregnant woman step by step through the birth process. This small little book contains a wealth of very important balanced birthing information for pregnant women and their partners and is written from the perspective of a doula. It is easy to read & is laid out clearly and succinctly. The authors, Jan Mallak & Teresa Bailey, tell real-life stories and choose illustrative photos that help tell their stories. They tell the reader how a doula can help in any situation.
Sections in the book include:

  • How to build a birth team that supports you
  • How to write a Birth Vision that reflects your priorities
  • The 10 things that must be in your birth bag
  • Tips, tools and techniques to help you have the easiest birth you can have
  • Ways to avoid a cesarean birth or how to accomplish a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)
  • How to get breastfeeding off to a good start
  • The best ways to avoid postpartum depression

One of this reviewer’s favorite parts is the section on how to build a birth team that supports the pregnant woman & her partner. They impart how important that is to the outcome of the birth process. Reading this book and knowing what to expect and will help women take control of their birth and make educated decisions.
Paulina (Polly) Perez, RN, BSN, FACCE, LCCE, CD
Author of Doula Programs, Special Women and The Nurturing Touch at Birth

ILCA Review of Doulas’ Guide to Birthing Your Way

ILCA Print and Multimedia Reviews August 2010 – Available at Doulas’ Guide to Birthing Your Way Jan S Mallak and Teresa F Bailey Hale Publishing, LP, 2010 192 pages, illustrated, shaded text boxes, bibliography, glossary, index, (US)$19.95, softcover Orders: Hale Publishing 1712 N. Forest Street, Amarillo, TX 79106 USA Tel: 800-376-9900 URL: or
When the laboring mother loses her way and her partner tires, the doula is by her side. Doulas are ready to encourage, explain, offer pain management techniques and anything else to help the laboring mother carry out her birth vision. This refreshing book is written to help women plan for their birth by sharing “tips, tools and techniques” toward giving birth with confidence. It combines the knowledge and experience of both authors who are La Leche League Leaders and DONA certified doulas. The authors describe five interwoven ways doulas offer support through spiritual, mediatorial, physical, emotional, and informational guidance. Mothers are encouraged to think in terms of having a birth vision rather than a birth plan. They suggest that while a woman cannot plan her birth, she can envision it. The “blessing way,” a celebration of a woman’s pregnancy with close family and friends, is discussed in details not typically included in other books about doulas. The authors have met their goal in giving practical and easy-to-use tips by providing the reader with numerous supplementary materials. Included are visual exercises, quizzes, tables, and charts to help support the learning and make it easy to carry suggestions out. There is also a postpartum emergency information sheet, handout for postpartum helpers, postpartum depression checklist, several excellent birth vision examples, and great tips on how to survive the first few weeks postpartum. The 14 pages on basic breastfeeding offer accurate information overall. Pregnant mothers, doulas, and lactation consultants alike will enjoy this well-written and well-priced book for all the practical advice and accurate information it offers to women in preparation for birth. Lori J Isenstadt, IBCLC, CCE Peoria, Arizona USA..
Rating:  [5 of 5 Stars]

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