Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life After Birth, Kate Figes

I just finished reading Life after Birth, by Kate Figes.

This is the first book I have read which gives a honest, thorough overview of the emotional and psychological changes which occur after the birth of your first child. While other books do say things like "you may experience depression", this book gets into WHY. The descriptions of issues or changes that may arise in a mother's personal relationships (with the father, her parents or friends) are also very good.

The book is a little bit dark (as in, it covers every possible negative outcome that could occur), so the average woman will only experience some of the problems listed. But I think it's better to be informed: then you can congratulate yourself on having missed out on some stressors, rather than feeling inadequate because everything wasn't perfect.

The book was written by a working mother, which means that the coverage on issues arising from working while having small children (especially on guilt and work-life balance) is excellent. However, the discussion on non-working mothers is short and not particularly informative: for example, the changes in the division of household responsibilities after the baby comes are described, but problems for the SAHM like a loss of social status, loss of personal time, and possible future ramifications (like a permanent drop in employability) are not really mentioned. I like the author's advocacy for working mothers, and her sensitive discussion about the issues involved. However, the downsides to children of a working mother (in particular, in the first year or so) are not mentioned; the cost to the mother (including poorer health, more marital stress and an increased risk of depression for the first year) is not mentioned either. I think this section would have benefited from some objectivity (perhaps a SAHM collaborator for this chapter?).

Overall, however, it was a very interesting and well-researched book, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I would highly recommend it to every first-time mother and will be buying it for my sister, who is going to start trying for her first child in a month or two.

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