Williams Manual of Obstetrics: Pregnancy Complications, 22nd edition
by K.J. Leveno, et al.

[2007, New York: McGraw Hill Medical; $39.95, 626 pages, paperback.)

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 86, Summer 2008, © 2008, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Elise Hansen.]

This pocket-sized handbook offers concise presentations of a variety of complications encountered during pregnancy. Responding to user suggestions, the authors have thoroughly updated and revised the contents from previous editions, omitting normal pregnancy and labor entirely and focusing on conditions either arising due to pregnancy or preexisting conditions affected by pregnancy. As a companion to the classic Williams Obstetrics textbook, the streamlined manual is concise and easy to use.

The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 covers obstetrical complications due to pregnancy itself and includes such conditions as miscarriage, developmental and chromosomal anomalies, abnormal labor and delivery and complications due to multiples. Part 2 deals with medical and surgical complications during pregnancy and includes both preexisting conditions such as chronic hypertension, asthma and lupus, as well as conditions that coincide with pregnancy such as cholestasis, hyperemesis and postpartum disorders. Part 3 focuses on complications in the fetus and newborn infant, such as resuscitation, prematurity, meconium aspiration syndrome and stillbirth.

Each terse chapter (2–15 pages) offers a precise description of the complication, with guidelines for diagnosis, management and treatment. The chapters include easy-to-read illustrations and tables and provide cross references to further information in the larger Williams textbook. As one would expect in a reference work of this type, the index is both extensive and comprehensive. Additionally, there are four appendices of commonly used data, including diagnostic indices for the major organ systems (renal and liver function values, for example), ultrasound reference tables, radiation dosimetry and umbilical cord blood gas components and values.

While some of the material is obviously geared to hospital practice, the book will also be a useful tool for out-of-hospital birth. Birth attendants will appreciate the easy-to-carry reference format. As a homebirth midwife I found the manual to be both informative and riveting reading.

Reviewer Elise Hansen has been involved in women’s health care for over 25 years, has naturally birthed four children (including a footling breech), is a proofreader for Midwifery Today, academic copyeditor, a Spanish-language medical interpreter and is currently practicing as a homebirth midwife in Oregon. She still has implicit trust in gentle, non-interventive birth.

Order this book from Amazon today!