This week, May 4th – 10th, is maternal mental health week. 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. This year, 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.
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.
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
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
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 www.suzannahneufeld.com
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.”
Dr. Mathew also recommended this book and said it “is a helpful book for clients and providers.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Recommended by Angela R. Wurtzel, MA, LMFT #33686, Certified Eating Disorder Specialist who can be found here.
Recommended by Meri Levy, LMFT, PMH-C who can be found here.
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.