Recommended Readings for the 4th Trimester

Once the baby is born, the last thing you probably have on your mind is finding time to sit down with a good book. The first 3 months after birth can feel like a whirlwind, but it can also be a time to practice slowing down. Reading can be a wonderful coping tool to manage feelings of overwhelm and fatigue that often accompany this period. I offer a few recommendations for the 4th trimester!

“All these people keep waxing sentimental about how fabulously well I am doing as a mother, how competent I am, but I feel inside like when you’re first learning to put nail polish on your right hand with your left. You can do it, but it doesn’t look all that great around the cuticles.”“I don’t remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”

“one thing about having a baby is that each step of the way you simply cannot imagine loving him any more than you already do, because you are bursting with love, loving as much as you are humanly capable of- and then you do, you love him even more.” 

-Anne Lamott

“like so many new mothers, I was completely unprepared, blind to the other birth that was happening: The birth of myself as a mother.”

-Kimberly Ann Johnson

“Becoming a mother is a huge, complicated life transition that can rock every fiber of a person’s being. The process even has its own name: matrescence. And while this term may seem relatively new, it was actually coined in the 70’s by medical anthropologist Dana Raphael. “She kicks off a lot of her writings saying that in some cultures we say, ‘a woman has given birth,’ but here we say, ‘a child is born,'” says Aurélie Athan, a reproductive psychologist at Columbia University. “And with that, the emphasis gets shifted on the child.”


“That lady on the internet comment board wants to tell you what to do, but she doesn’t live in your house, and she cannot know what is right for your family.

I’m not trying to give advice. I’m just arguing that in many cases the data can be helpful. But if the data falls short and you still want advice, let me pass along something our pediatrician once told me. It was our 2-year-old’s checkup, and I had my usual list of neuroses.

“We are going on this vacation, and there are bees,” I said. “It’s kind of isolated. What if Penelope is stung? She’s never been stung before. What if she’s allergic? How will I get her to a doctor in time? Should I bring something to be prepared for this? Should we test her in advance? Do I need an EpiPen?”

In other words, I had built up this elaborate and incredibly unlikely scenario in my head. I needed someone to remind me that yes, this could happen. But so could a million other things. Parenting is not actually about planning for every possible disaster.

The doctor paused. And then she said, very calmly:

“Hmm. I’d probably just try not to think about that.”

Emily Oster