Maternal Mental Health Books

Maternal Mental Health Books

Maternal mental health challenges, like postpartum depression or anxiety, are still stigmatized which means that parents struggle to get help and lives are at risk. I think maternal mental health is especially relevant as the pandemic interferes with the support many new parents would have received and increases fear around the birthing experience. I asked therapists who specialize in working with new and expecting parents what books they would recommend. Here’s the list they put together.

Note: You can click on any title to get your own copy of that book. Most links are affiliate links which means we make a small commission without costing you anything extra. You can learn more here Make sure you also check out the therapists / readers. They are doing amazing work in their field.

Becoming Us: 8 Steps to Grow a Family That Thrives by [Elly Taylor]

Becoming Us: 8 Steps to Grow a Family that Thrives by Elly Taylor

Caitlyn Simmons said “Becoming Us helps partners prepare for the transition to parenthood and opens up conversations for expectations. i feel like partners often miss this step, because they don’t know what to expect and this book helps them learn to lean in to one another and support each other through the unknown!” You can find out more about Caitlyn at The Couple Zone

Reproductive Trauma: Psychotherapy With Infertility and Pregnancy Loss Clients by Janet Jaffe and Martha Diamond.

Abigail Burd, LCSW, PMH-C said “Although the title implies a focus on loss, I have found that the concept of the “Reproductive Story” is something I use with almost all of my clients. I explain it once, and they instantly get it. This works well integrated with narrative approaches, IPT, CBT and couples work. I’ve also referred to it in my online courses and an upcoming PPD workbook for clients.” You can find out more about Abigail at Burd Therapy and on Instagram or Facebook.

If you’re a pregnant therapist, make sure you check out The Therapist’s Guide to Being Pregnant by Kara Bolling LCSW-C. It’s a planner for managing pregnancy, maternity leave, client reactions and more specifically written to therapist. This is a must have for therapists who are expecting. You can get your copy HERE.

Mindful Motherhood: Practical Tools for Staying Sane During Pregnancy and Your Child’s First Year by Cassandra Vieten
Laura Parry, LCSW, PMH-C said “It’s a great beginner’s guide to mindfulness and has helpful exercises and metaphors for new parents.” You can find Laura here and on Facebook

Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts: A Healing Guide to the Secret Fears of New Mothers

Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts: A Healing Guide to the Secret Fears of New Mothers by Karen Kleinman

Kimberly Gibson said this book is an illustrated, self guide for new moms and she loved it so much she wrote an entire blog post reviewing it.  You can find that here. You can also find her on Instagram  

*Note: Good Moms is linked to Barnes & Nobles because it’s unavailable at Amazon

Awake at 3 a.m.: Yoga Therapy for Anxiety and Depression in Pregnancy and Early Motherhood by Suzannah Neufeld 

Dr. Linda Shanti said “I use these exercises in session with clients AND found the book reassuring and compassionate personally.”  You can learn more about Dr. Shanti here.

Suzannah Neufeld, the author said her book offers compassionate and practical tools for moms (and you don’t even need to like yoga :)). You can learn more about Suzanna at

The Art of Holding in Therapy; an Essential Intervention to Postpartum Depression and Anxiety by Karen Kleinman
Jaya Mathew, PhD of Wellness 360 said this “is an excellent book for a fairly comprehensive introduction into perinatal mood issues and treatment.”  

Unsung Lullabies, Understanding and Coping with Infertility by by Janet Jaffe, David Diamond, and Martha Diamond

Dr. Mathew also recommended this book and said it “is a helpful book for clients and providers.”

Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood and Trusting Yourself and Your Body by Erica Chidi Cohen

Emily Souder LCSW-C, PMH-C described Nuture as “a refreshingly different sort of parenting prep book. From a therapist’s perspective, it helped me work with clients on reminding them of their own inner guidance, which we so easily forget when entering parenthood.” You can learn more about Emily here or follow her on Instagram.

Adventures with Postpartum Depression by Courtney Novak

This book was also recommended by Emily.  She said it “is a very well-written memoir, and an opportunity to dip into another person’s experience with postpartum depression and OCD.”

Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life by Daphne de Marneffe

Megan Warner, PhD raved about this one  She said “It is for a very specific client— a woman who feels the social/cultural/political tensions about motherhood, who may be really loving motherhood and may also notice shame and/or ambivalence in her mix of experiences. She may be noticing culturally conflicting messages about loving motherhood. It really is a beautiful read, very affirming, about intensely loving our children and how deep and complex that love is. This is *not* for a mom deep in perinatal mood or anxiety hell (for that, Karen Kleinman all the way). This is for a mom who is reflecting on the powerful nature of motherhood and wants someone with whom to discuss it and who will affirm that power that is within her alongside her.”  You can learn more about Dr. Warner here.

The Recovery Mama Guide to Your Eating Disorder Recovery in Pregnancy and Postpartum by Linda McCabe

Suzannah Neufeld, who wrote Awake at 3 a.m., recommended this one as did Emily Sounder who said “this is a wonderful resource! Super relatable, I thought, for any mamas with changed body image as well!”

Dr Shanti, the author jumped in the conversation and said she tried to write this book from the perspective of “someone holding your hand through it who had been there.” Dr. Shanti can be found here or on Facebook and Instagram.

If you’re looking for resources for yourself or your clients, check out Postpartum Support International. PSI also has a certificate program and excellent training opportunities for therapists and birth workers interested in maternal mental health.

More Recommendations

Talking with Mothers by Dana Breen

Recommended by Angela R. Wurtzel, MA, LMFT #33686, Certified Eating Disorder Specialist who can be found here.

Therapy and the Postpartum Woman: Notes on Healing Postpartum Depression for Clinicians and the Women Who Seek their Help by Karen Kleiman

Recommended by Meri Levy, LMFT, PMH-C who can be found here.

Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts, by Karen Kleiman  

Recommended by Emery Ayers-Greenidge who can be found here and Crystal Vasecka Clancy at Iris Mental Health Services

Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields

Recommended by Michelle Friedman, LCSW.  She can be found here and on Instagram or Twitter

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

Recommended by Bina Bird, MA, LMFT-S, PMH-C You can find Bina here or on Instagram.  Bina also runs a fabulous Facebook group dedicated to maternal mental health.

Daughter Detox by Peg Streep

Recommended by Lucia Falcone who can be found on OpenPath.

If you know of another book we need to review or an expert willing to share their favorite resources, let us know here or tell us about it in the comments. Make sure you’re also following The Therapist’s Bookshelf on Facebook and Instagram.

Many therapists enjoy recommending books to their clients to supplement the work they are doing together. We also use books to help ourselves grow as people and practitioners. Remember though that books are never a replacement for real human connection or for therapy when it’s needed. If you find yourself needing a therapist, a great place to start is Psychology Today. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Le Shepard

Le Shepard, LPC earned her MA in Counseling Psychology from Texas Woman's University in Denton, TX. She sees clients face to face at Wise County Christian Counseling and works with individuals or couples through her online-only private practice. 1000 Hills Counseling & Consulting. Le loves to read, adventure, and play with her corgi or kids.

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