THE BIRTH OF A MOTHER by Daniel Stern

THE BIRTH OF A MOTHER

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A serious psychological foray into What to Expect When You're Expecting territory. Psychiatrist Stern (The Diary of a Baby, 1990, etc.) presents a thoughtful guide to the psychological impact of motherhood. Following the expecting and new mother through the various stages of her experience--creating an imaginary baby while pregnant, feelings of inadequacy and contentment that come after the birth, planning the baby's future, determining whether to go back to work--the authors explain what is happening to her psychologically and emotionally. They demonstrate how each phase of the process contributes to the birth of the ``motherhood mindset,'' a new state of mind that puts her role as mother before all else (Stern's theory runs counter to traditional psychological beliefs that we retain one mindset, or ``basic psychic organization,'' throughout our lives). Stories of individual women, in particular three whom the authors follow from their sixth month of pregnancy, resonate strongly in parts, and all women will find aspects of their own life, as either a mother or child, in this generally soothing study. Especially interesting are the sections that explore the changing relationship of the new mother to her own mother, the expectations parents place on their children (as peacemakers or antidepressants, for example), and the importance of fantasies as a first step in establishing the motherhood mindset. The work-and-family question, however, is handled perfunctorily, and while the authors are generally careful about not judging new mothers, they have no understanding for mothers who choose to work when they are not financially obliged to. Although too slim to fully explore the psychological development of mothers, this book offers key insights into the process.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-465-01621-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1998




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