Why this book wasn't recommended instead of The Doula Book, I don't know. This fabulous paperback introduces the idea of a labor companion, and spends a chapter discussing the importance of touch and support in labor, citing many of the same statistics. Unlike The Doula Book, however, The Doula Advantage refrains from getting all hippie on the reader. Instead, the book discusses the practical implications of having a doula: what a doula actually does for a woman; how a doula supports a woman who chooses to or must have pain medication; how a doula supports a woman with a c-section; what a doula does for a birth partner; and how to hire a doula, including examples of interview questions, how much doulas charge, and how to cut doula costs by bartering and hiring doulas in training (like me!).
The Doula Advantage goes on to talks about postpartum doulas and what they do, and how they differ from lactation consultants, babysitters or nannies, and maids. The purpose of a postpartum doula is, just as a birth doula, to support the new mother. The postpartum doula does whatever is necessary for the mother or around the house to make the mother calm, content, relaxed, and focused on her new task at hand: taking good care of her newborn. Sometimes the task is to help with lactation; sometimes, she must help with older siblings or hold the new baby while mom takes a long shower; sometimes the mother's stress level is proportionate with the mess in the house or the number of dishes in the sink. Then, the doula will pick up the house, clean the kitchen, and prepare a healthy meal.
Another type of doula discussed is the antepartum doula. Slowly gaining popularity and recognition, the antepartum doula serves the mother-to-be before the onset of labor (although such a doula may stay and support the mother during the birth). Women on bedrest or with particularly difficult pregnancies benefit from antepartum doula support, as do single mothers and teens. An antepartum doula will meet the emotional needs of the mother-to-be, coming over to talk, cook some meals, and help prepare for the baby. She may hold a one-on-one childbirth class with the new mom.
I am a big fan of Rachel Gurevich's book as a practical overview of the benefits of having a trained labor companion and how to obtain one. If I were to teach a childbirth class, I would put this book on the reading list... and recommend it to all my clients.