The Birth of a Mother: How the Motherhood Experience Changes You Forever

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Overview

As you prepare to become a mother, you face an experience unlike any other in your life. Having a baby will redirect your preferences and pleasures and, most likely, will realign some of your values.As you undergo this unique psychological transformation, you will be guided by new hopes, fears, and priorities. In a most startling way, having a child will influence all of your closest relationships and redefine your role in your family’s history. The charting of this remarkable, new realm is the subject of this ...

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The Birth Of A Mother: How The Motherhood Experience Changes You Forever

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Overview

As you prepare to become a mother, you face an experience unlike any other in your life. Having a baby will redirect your preferences and pleasures and, most likely, will realign some of your values.As you undergo this unique psychological transformation, you will be guided by new hopes, fears, and priorities. In a most startling way, having a child will influence all of your closest relationships and redefine your role in your family’s history. The charting of this remarkable, new realm is the subject of this compelling book.Renowned psychiatrist Daniel N. Stern has joined forces with pediatrician and child psychiatrist Nadia Bruschweiler-Stern and journalist Alison Freeland to paint a wonderfully evocative picture of the psychology of motherhood. At the heart of The Birth of a Mother is an arresting premise: Just as a baby develops physically in utero and after birth, so a mother is born psychologically in the many months that precede and follow the birth of her baby.The recognition of this inner transformation emerges from hundreds of interviews with new mothers and decades of clinical experience. Filled with revealing case studies and personal comments from women who have shared this experience, this book will serve as an invaluable sourcebook for new mothers, validating the often confusing emotions that accompany the development of this new identity. In addition to providing insight into the unique state of motherhood, the authors touch on related topics such as going back to work, fatherhood, adoption, and premature birth.During pregnancy, mothers-to-be talk about morning sickness and their changing bodies, and new mothers talk about their exhaustion, the benefits of nursing or bottle-feeding, and the dilemma of whether or when they should return to work. And yet, they can be strangely mute about the dramatic and often overwhelming changes going on in their inner lives. Finally, with The Birth of a Mother, these powerful feelings are eloquently put into words.

"...addresses the unique psychological transformation that occurs in women when they become mothers...validates the often confusing emotions that accompany the development of a new identity."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The author of Diary of a Baby turns his attentive eye on motherhood in this reassuring and uniquely substantive volume that focuses on new mothers. Based on close observation and hundreds of interviews with the mothers of young children, Stern, an infant psychiatrist who teaches at Cornell University Medical Center-New York Hospital, describes the complex emotional shifts that women experience as they travel from pregnancy through birth and into their baby's newborn period. For some, the transition into the new state of motherhood is instantaneous; for others, the initiation requires time. But all find the transformation profound, thoroughly changing their view of themselves, their relationships and the world. Stern offers his own perspective on the normal development changes that may be taking place, from concerns during pregnancy to changing relationships women may be experiencing with their own mothers, to building a matrix of helpful friends, to a baby's impact on a marriage. Of particular value are the descriptions, delivered in sensory, immediate prose, of the interactions between a wide array of mothers and their babies. Most stunning is a detailed evocation of a three-minute interaction between a mother and her baby that shows how, even when the mother doesn't respond perfectly, she is still doing well enough. It's hard to imagine a new mother who would not be inspired, reassured and encouraged by Stern's moving and thoughtful account. (Mar.) FYI: Basic will simultaneously reissue Stern's classic Diary of a Baby in paper.
Library Journal
Mothers are not created by the act of giving birth. Instead, argue the authors, the "motherhood mindset" begins to take shape during pregnancy and is created as parents care for their infant in the weeks and months after the birth. Most women find themselves shifting more attention to other women who are more experienced mothers during this time in an effort to find role models for this new identity. Special sections discuss the problems encountered by the new mothers of handicapped and premature babies, who often feel a sense of failure or inability to bond with their child. Other chapters discuss the impact of parenthood on the marriage and the question of juggling career and baby. Throughout, the focus is on the mother's developing sense of self. Brenda Eheart's The Fourth Trimester (Prentice-Hall, 1983) covers similar ground but does not include as much information on marriage and career concerns. In general, this title would be very useful to expectant mothers and is recommended for public libraries serving areas with young families.Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, Wash.
Kirkus Reviews
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 thepsychological development of mothers, this book offers key insights into the process.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465015672
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 12/28/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 823,493
  • Lexile: 1180L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.78 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel N. Stern, M.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of Geneva and adjunct professor of psychiatry at Cornell University Medical Center–New York Hospital. An expert in the mother-infant relationship, he is the author of The Interpersonal World of the Infant and The Diary of a Baby.Nadia Bruschweiler-Stern, M.D., is a pediatrician and child psychiatrist in Geneva, Switzerland. Alison Freeland, a freelance writer and the author of The Journey to Motherhood, currently works as a reporter for Vermont Public Radio. Daniel N. Stern, M.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of Geneva and adjunct professor of psychiatry at Cornell University Medical Center–New York Hospital. An expert in the mother-infant relationship, he is the author of The Interpersonal World of the Infant and The Diary of a Baby.Nadia Bruschweiler-Stern, M.D., is a pediatrician and child psychiatrist in Geneva, Switzerland. Alison Freeland, a freelance writer and the author of The Journey to Motherhood, currently works as a reporter for Vermont Public Radio. Alison Freeland, a freelance writer and the author of The Journey to Motherhood, currently works as a reporter for Vermont Public Radio.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Motherhood Mindset 3
Pt. I Preparing to Be a Mother
1 Pregnancy: Preparation for Your New Identity 31
2 Giving Birth: A Time of Transition 56
3 Self-fulfilling Prophecies and New Roles 67
Pt. II A Mother Is Born
4 Ensuring Your Baby's Survival 93
5 Loving: The Intimate Responsibility 110
6 Seeking Affirmation 129
7 One Mother Speaks 148
8 The Diary of Joey and His Mother 160
Pt. III A Mother Adapts
9 Special Needs: Premature or Handicapped Babies 181
10 Your Career - When? 202
11 Husbands and Fathers 214
Index 231
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Customer Reviews

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