By Marshall H. Klaus, MD, John H. Kennell, MD, and Phyllis H. Klaus, MFT, LMSW
Lifelong Books, $19.00, 249 pages

Women who receive support while giving birth have a more positive experience. The Doula Book, by Marshall H. Klaus, MD, John H. Kennell, MD, and Phyllis H. Klaus, MFT, LMSW, illustrates how a trained labor companion provides women with a less complicated and more rewarding birthing process. Doula is a Greek word that roughly translates to ‘a woman who helps other women’. In today’s society, a doula is a trained supporter who provides physical, emotional and informational support to women throughout the birthing process. The book explains how doulas are trained and what they can offer. After meeting the mother in the third trimester of pregnancy, the doula gets to know the mom-to-be’s expectations. Read about how doulas interact with hospital staff and other family members. The authors are proponents for natural birth and they discuss the added complications that come with cesarean sections, inductions and epidurals. Acupressure and massage are discussed as alternatives to opiates. The text is clear, motivational and inspirational. The numbers speak for themselves: with doulas as support companions, fewer women have cesarean sections and epidurals, length of labor is decreased, forceps and narcotics are used in fewer cases and infants stay fewer days in the hospital. An appendix offers tips on relaxation, imagery exercises, visualization and hypnosis.

Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin