After the Baby’s Birth, by Robin Lim. This book is very holistic in approach and is one of my very favorite postpartum reads. It offers such gems as, “you’re postpartum for the rest of your life” (which some people have said they feel like is depressing, but I find a tremendously empowering statement!) and “when the tears flow, so does the milk” (with regard to the third day postpartum). It does have a large section on Ayurvedic cooking, which, personally, I don’t connect with, so be aware that that section is in there and depending on your belief system, might make perfect sense to you, or might seem inapplicable like it feels to me.
Mother Nurture: A Mother’s Guide to Health in Body, Mind, & Intimate Relationships, by Rick & Jan Hanson. This book is phenomenal. Very comprehensive. It addresses mothers of children from birth to age 5, so even if you are several years past the early postpartum weeks, this book has much to offer to you! One of the focus areas is on “Depleted Mother Syndrome” and addresses coping with it via all areas (body, mind, social/relational).
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, by Diane Weissinger and Diana West for La Leche League International. This classic book from the original mother-to-mother support organization has been published for more than fifty years. This nurturing, conversational book will help you with all of your breastfeeding questions from birth and onward, whether your breastfeeding goal is three days, three weeks, three months, or three years. Reading this book is like having access to an experienced, friendly network of breastfeeding mothers who know all the practical, as well as emotional, ins and outs of mothering through breastfeeding. (And, to get this kind of support in person, check out an LLL group near you!)
The Year After Childbirth, by Sheila Kitzinger. Another book covering the physical, social, and emotional changes after birth. This book is more “basic” and less in-depth than the two above.
The Post-Pregnancy Handbook, by Sylvia Brown. This book is the most “mainstream” of my suggested titles.
Mothering the New Mother, by Sally Placksin. This book is excellent for people supporting new mothers, as well as for mothers themselves. It is very validating and affirming of women’s feelings and needs after birth. This is the book in which I learned the term “matrescence”= becoming a mother.
What Mothers Do: Especially When it Looks Like its Nothing, by Naomi Stadlen. I love this book! It takes a close look at how women mother and how skillfully they do so (so that on the outside it looks like they are doing “nothing”). This is not a “how to” book, but a book that tries to look below the surface and explore concepts that are very difficult to verbalize/articulate. She strives to put into words/give us language to describe what is it that mothers do all day–their often invisible contributions to life. Contributions that are often invisible even to ourselves. This is a very affirming and unique book.
Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood, by Naomi Wolf. This was the first book that I ever read about a woman’s postpartum experience. It was suggested to me by the doctor at the birth center when I expressed some teary frustrations about adjusting to my new life and wondering if I would ever get “back to normal.” This book is on the “angry” side–it is not a nurturing and tender read in the way my earlier suggestions are. I did not identify with the author’s birth experiences or feelings about birth (I felt tremendous during birth and powerful, empowered, triumphant, and confident), but her postpartum feelings closely match my own (weak, wounded, invisible, etc.)
Operating Instructions, by Anne Lamott. This is a classic. A memoir of the author’s first year with her son. She is a single parent and so the book addresses some of the challenges involved with parenting solo. This book is incredibly funny at times.
Let the Baby Drive: Navigating the Road of New Motherhood, by Lu Hanessian. Another wonderful read! I first read this when my own children were out of babyhood and still found it tremendously relevant and enjoyable.
Callie’s Tally: An Accounting of Baby’s First Year, [or, What My Daughter Owes Me], by Betsy Howie. Very funny, though not particularly “AP” (so if you’re looking for that, read Let the Baby Drive instead). This book chronicles how much money the author has spent on her daughter during her first year of life.
You might also like to check out my list of Non-Advice Books for Mothers | Talk Birth.