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Books on becoming a mother

(21 Posts)
sushidave Sun 31-Mar-13 22:00:22

I'm a new mum to a 15 week old DD (9 weeks corrected) and am finding the emotional changes quite overwhelming, e.g. responsibility, guilt, role changes, impact on relationships, identity etc (so no biggies then wink )

Can anyone recommend a good book to help me find my way and perhaps to reassure me that the rollercoaster is entirely normal?

A quick google throws up Rachel Cusk's A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother


Susan Maushart's The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It


Welovegrapes Sun 31-Mar-13 22:02:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Welovegrapes Sun 31-Mar-13 22:03:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Zhx3 Sun 31-Mar-13 22:05:21

I recommend Vicki Iovine's "Best Friend's Guide..." series. She made me laugh and feel a bit more secure in the early days smile. She doesn't take herself too seriously.

changeforthebetter Sun 31-Mar-13 22:09:53

I hated Rachel Cusk grin so far up her own intellectual arse! And I had just spent three years in academia which is fairly self-indulgent. I loved What Mothers Do - raw, honest, uncomfortable ( XH couldn't stomach it wink) The Women's Room (vair 70s and apologies if you've read it) I am hugely pro bf, worked in bf support, fed DD until 4.5 yo, but found The Womanly Art of BF a bit "preachy". The whole process of learning to mother is so vastly complex and so culturally undervalued hmm

domesticslattern Sun 31-Mar-13 22:17:09

Definitely What Mothers Do
Not, repeat not, Rachel Cusk. You will not feel better after you read that, trust me.

Welovegrapes Sun 31-Mar-13 23:00:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

stella1w Sun 31-Mar-13 23:22:57

I felt cusk had undiagnosed pnd when she wrote that book

Shagmundfreud Mon 01-Apr-13 00:14:14

What Mothers Do.

Rachel Cusk generated a 'oh for goodness sake, get over yourself! response from me I'm afraid.

Queenofknickers Mon 01-Apr-13 01:04:27

Definitely Vicki Iovine " Best Friends guide" - brilliant. I was also helped by Libby Purves "How Not to be a Perfect Mother" although quite old and talks of carry cots for car seats (!) the wonderful, reassuring, common sense and kindness is timeless.

CautionaryWhale Mon 01-Apr-13 01:38:13

Anne Enright writes beautifully

FWIW I didn't find Rachel Cusk that annoying unlike everyone else seems to.
Very few writers dare to write about maternal ambivalence or struggle.
Those that do get demonised for it.

For every yummy mummy - yes I mean you Jules Oliver, Windowlene Klarse, Mel and Sue Mel, Louise Wiener et al
there are women out there that maybe don't find it so wonderful.

It depends if you want a help guide, something funny, or something angry...I just wanted something I could relate to/identify with as I was mourning the loss of me and DH as we were and if that sounds pretentious wanky or entitled tough titties.

The above book was lovely as it was a nice balance.
Rachel Cusk was fine if you want Schadenfreude.

Stephanie Calman is reasonably amusing

Naomi Wolf wrote a lot about birth choices etc - I enjoyed reading it having had interventions.

The bitch in the house is a collection of essays which might make you cross or happier about your lot in a there for the grace of God way

fiction - mum gets overloaded and takes off. Kramer vs Kramer lite

Yes Lionel Shriver has no kids. Yes we need to talk about Kevin is a very black view of motherhood. But it made me feel better about my bonding and parenting skills at least I'm not feeling as bad as that
so it is included here

It all rather depends on what kind of book you want and what you hope to gain from it. If it is practical guidance you want I have read Penelope Leach on the one hand and Gina Ford on the other and a variety in between ;-)

FrancesFarmer Mon 01-Apr-13 01:48:55

I second Anne Enright. Insightful and humorous at the same time.

Caladria Mon 01-Apr-13 07:06:40

FWIW (which isn't much) I liked the Rachel Cusk book. It's bleak but very funny - the bit about leaving London and regretting it made me laugh out loud.

blacktreaclecat Mon 01-Apr-13 07:42:39

Is What Mothers Do very bf heavy?
Sounds good but I ff and couldn't read loads about how wonderful it is to bf; it would upset me.

cloudhands Mon 01-Apr-13 08:54:22

Rachel Cusk's book was a bit negative, but good if you want a story of how not everyone falls in love with motherhood straight away.

this is not a book, but a series of podcasts for new parents . A lot of help about the emotional side, as well as the practical side of being a parent.

domesticslattern Mon 01-Apr-13 09:01:47

No it's not blacktreaclecat, I read it after I mixed fed and didn't feel preached at.

QTPie Mon 01-Apr-13 09:06:01


Not quite an answer to your question, but do you have lots of Mummy friends in real life? Do you have an NCT group? Have you started any baby groups yet (NCT cafe, Waterbabies, Baby Sensory)?

Being a mummy is a great time in life to make new friends - lots of people are open to making friends.

Although books can be good, to be honest talking to people is a really sanity saver (especially if their baby is the same age as yours": you feel normal and not alone smile. Obviously Mumsneg is great too ;)


sushidave Mon 01-Apr-13 18:25:16

Great response, thanks all.

I'm looking for an honest account of some uncomfortable emotions to cut through some of the fluff that's churned out to many new mums. Some solidarity to identify with as I'm mourning the loss of my old life and trying to find my way around my new one.

I'm intrigued by the controversy around Rachel Cusk so have just reserved it from the library. What Mothers Do also looks good.

I do have support in RL, so reading is a (less scary!) backup to that. My NCT friends are great but I still don't feel I know them well enough to reveal ALL of my deep-seated issues.

Now to find an attention span to read the damn things..

BertieBotts Mon 01-Apr-13 20:58:19

I found the Mother Trip books by Ariel Gore wonderful - there's a brilliant quote in the foreword which made me feel better about not always loving motherhood and she talks quite openly about depression which is not always talked about and I just liked them.

The quote:

"Motherhood is not what we imagined. It is more delightful, more heartbreaking. It ruins everything. It's not the calm after the storm we are led to expect. It is almost more than a person can bear. Almost."

Which sounds very bleak but it's very true, for me, and comforting to feel others feel the same way.

I loved What Mothers Do. It's not bf-heavy - It's been a while since I read it but I seem to remember it having reference to the feelings of guilt when BF doesn't work out (at all or exactly as you expected) and being reassuring to mothers in all situations feeding-wise. It's perfect for that newborn period. I gave my copy to a friend when she had her first with a note in the front page "When your baby turns one, please pass this on to another new mother." It should be handed out in place of the Bounty packs!

QTPie Mon 01-Apr-13 21:11:50

Things will get better, I promise. Life is never as "care free", impulsive or as selfish as before children (or at least not for maybe 18 years), but there really aren't many things that you did that you won't be able to do again soon. Ok, maybe lie-ins (DS is free now, still haven't had a lie in later than about 8am...).

Honestly, it does sometimes feel like "the end of the world" (as you knew it), but it is ,annoy temporary smile

Hang onto those NCT friends: encourage lots of meetings up (we still take turns at each others houses 3 years on! Although I see two more than the others). They are good.

Take care.

princessx Tue 02-Apr-13 14:46:36

What mothers do is a wonderful book. I've just read it on mat leave with ds2 and I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before as its all you need.

I don't remember it mentioning feeding as such, but I actually felt it made me a lot less judgemental over all. With dd1 I'd read a lot of books on what you're supposed to do, and I spent a lot of time thinking other people were doing it wrong. (Not consciously) But this book made me realise that everyone is trying their best to love and look after their child, just like me.

One bit that stuck out for me was women wouldn't really be part of mainstream society until they became mothers in the olden days, but now it's the opposite, you leave your job to become a mother, so you're giving up your role in mainstream society to go and be a mother on your own. Thinking about that has made my loneliness on mat leave easier to deal with.

Good luck with it all!

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