Nobody Told Me About That - The First Six Weeks
by Ginger Breedlove
Book review by Cristin Tighe, BWI Program Director & CCE(BWI)
What a valuable read - this is the most comprehensive book about the postpartum time I’ve picked up. It’s focus on the first six weeks is key! As a mother of first a daughter and then twin boys, and as a postpartum doula, I have experienced the challenging personal reality of going through the early weeks with newborn(s) and have professionally supported varied clients through it! The first six weeks or so with a baby is also the most precious time. Having the option while pregnant to understand what to expect after the baby is born very comprehensively and clearly is a true gift - as it empowers parents, so they can enjoy this time more.
For parents-to-be, the first four chapters are like gold. They focus on what is normal (can eliminate much worry!), how to make safe and empowered sleep decisions, and feeding realities (including breastfeeding benefits and tips for success). Understanding certain key things is exceptionally helpful - like it’s normal that a baby may have a cone-shaped head, acne or other skin changes, cross eyes or make funny sounds when sleeping. It’s also so valuable to know what to expect day-by-early day about when a baby will poop, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, as well as the truth about how tending to a newborn after birth is often an emotional roller coaster but certain things can minimize that.
For mom, considerations and choosing before baby comes about early day visitors (and tips on how to manage them sweetly!), about how to prioritize mom’s sleep needs and shift the schedule as baby’s sleep and eating needs vary over the first weeks, will also assure her needs are met. The 36-page chapter on breastfeeding is a lot… but if this is read before the baby comes, parents should feel very empowered on almost every key consideration for breastfeeding (and can skip other books and online resources as prep).
Other key chapters can definitely help parents, and without a doubt do provide valuable insight for birth work professionals and medical providers. They include: in-depth information for fathers/partners, on postpartum depression (“the #1 complication of pregnancy”), returning to intimacy and to work, dealing with challenges (inequity/racism, unexpected interventions, mother and infant mortality, trauma, grief), as well as fun ideas on practicing mindfulness and getting a pet accustomed to a new baby. Additional key topic chapters offer deep insight from women of color, LGBT* families, and real from-the-heart stories sharing the experience of what it’s like up to the first six weeks+ AND how moms can find their voice through this magical, demanding experience.
Do note this book is like a mini-encyclopedia, and often has repetition - so if you’re pregnant or a partner anticipating your new child - good to purchase it now. (This book is so important for those in the US (or with a similar model) of more medicalized birth options and minimal support for after-baby care -- which is often very little advice to no advice/hands-on preparation followed by mostly no professional support at home for weeks. Even in countries, like Belgium, where you have in-home midwives visit every other day for a few weeks to check baby and mom, affordable pediatrician visits earlier than six weeks, and optional free childcare support, this book is invaluable.
Overall, this book empowers and deeply enlightens… of all the birth-related books on my bookshelf… this is a keeper! I will refer to it again and again for clients’ needs and do encourage both new parents and professionals to purchase it now.