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

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

Daniel Stern, With *, Nadia Bruschweiler-Stern. Basic Books, $23 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-465-01621-1

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.