New Mom, New Woman by Rachel Egan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book disappeared from my Goodreads shelves for some reason, and I didn't notice until I was reminded of it when I opened my Kindle and saw my recently completed reads. This wasn't the best book, but I still want credit for reading it, especially since I am behind on my reading challenge for the year!
The main point of this book is to tell new parents to go easy on themselves in the upheaval that is new parenthood, to take some time to determine their priorities and to use those to create a "new normal." The idea is to keep women from inadvertently falling into the martyr role, where their entire lives become consumed with caring for others to the point of neglecting themselves -- not just in the intense months and years of early childhood, but throughout their parenting journey.
The book is full of exercises to that end that seem as if they could be really helpful. Unfortunately, I read an ARC on my Kindle, and the book was not properly formatted for that medium. So I had to guess at what many of the exercises, charts, and images were supposed to look like based on context because they came out all screwed up. It's a pet peeve of mine when publishers put out electronic ARCs that have shoddy formatting -- it really does affect the reading experience and it makes it harder to look favorably on a book.
Rachel Egan is a coach for new moms, and I imagine working one-on-one with her in that capacity would be enormously helpful. The book might be a good stand-in for those who are not comfortable with or cannot afford formal coaching, but the ebook version should be avoided to get the most benefit out of the exercises. Even if the formatting is fixed on the final version (which it better be if people are going to pay money for it), there are a lot of places where the book asks you to answer questions, make notes, circle things, etc. -- all of which seem a lot easier with a physical copy. Unfortunately, because of the yucky ebook formatting, I probably won't use this much once I'm actually dealing with these issues after my baby's arrival.
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It's hard to review a book like this without sounding like I'm passing judgment on Bialik's parenting choices, which I don't really want to do -- I'm sure her kids, like most of us, will turn out more-or-less fine.
I don't know a ton about attachment parenting, but I knew that attachment parents did a lot of things I plan to do, like baby-wearing, exclusive breastfeeding, sleeping with baby in the same room, etc. And after reading about attachment parenting apart from Bialik's book, I still basically agree with its tenets. But Bialik's interpretation of it just takes it too far for my tastes, and throws in a bunch of stuff that just made her lose credibility in my eyes (like "elimination communication" and being anti-vax and generally anti-medical intervention in general).
I feel a little bit like Bialik's interpretation of attachment parenting principles is akin to fundamentalists' interpretation of Biblical principles -- they might feel like they are doing it "better" than everyone else, but really their extremism is mostly in service of their own feelings of righteousness. I can get behind responding to a child's needs in an intuitive way, but I was very uncomfortable with Bialik's interpretation that this essentially meant a parent could NEVER be away from her children. I cringed when I learned that she had only been out with her husband without her children three times in five years -- and I was not surprised to find out that they divorced a couple years after this book was published. In many ways, her interpretation of the parenting style seemed to be more about parental dependence on the children rather than the other way around. Not to mention that it deprived her children of relationships with other nurturing adults and the opportunity to build a wider support network -- far from being a hardship, I always considered it a treat to get attention from non-parental adults (babysitters, Grandma, aunts) when my own parents went out on dates or to do other things that didn't revolve around being parents.
So even though I hope to take a more balanced approach to parenting than Bialik seems to do, I still found the book helpful because my own responses to her ideas helped solidify my own parenting values.
A good beginner's guide to breastfeeding -- it's short and broken into clear sections with illustrations and bulleted text, so it's not intimidating but still packed with really good information. It gets a bit repetitive if you read it straight through (which I did), but I can see why certain bits of important information were repeated often since most people who read this will skip around to the sections that are relevant to them, so the most crucial info needs to be in pretty much all those sections. Would definitely recommend to those who are put off by massive breastfeeding tomes like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding but who are still interested in practical info and tips on nursing a baby.
I read this for a Bible study at my church. This was good but usually the Bible studies I read are, "Now what do you think about that verse" where this was "Name the 5 reasons Paul gave for writing to the Corinthian church". I guess the emphasis was on the word "study". It was good but with 5 sections each week it was a struggle to finish it during my lunch hour.