Book review: The Birth of the Modern Mum

Birth of a Modern MotherWhen Clinical Psychologist, Heather Irvine, asked if I would review her book described as ‘a new mother’s no nonsense guide to looking after herself in baby’s first year’ I readily accepted. It sounded like a read I would have appreciated all those years ago when I was new at the job.  

As it happened, I didn’t trust myself to be a good mother the first time around.  I had a nappy bucket load of fear and my only natural instincts were to Read. Every. Single. Thing I could get my hands on to get me up to parenting speed. “What should I be doing now?” “What should I be doing next?” “Should he sleep with me?” “Should I feed him whenever he wanted?” “Should I use cloth nappies?” “Could he really grow up to be a psychopath if he is left crying?” …get the picture?

This strategy to new parenthood however didn’t mean I wasn’t delighted to be a mother, on the contrary, my heart was completely bursting with love. I thought giving birth was the greatest experience of my life and that mothers were amazing – they ruled the world! (I still think this to be true). It’s just I had landed on an alien planet and I needed to get my coordinates right.

However, the search for ‘what is right for baby’ left out ‘what’s right for mum’ and often left me looking like the Hotels Combined guy which is not good for anyone.

This is where The Birth of a Modern Mum is a stand out on the parenting bookshelf because it specifically addresses that emotional roller coaster of motherhood in the first year and offers ways to recognise it and strategies to manage it, particularly when it comes to postnatal depression – something up to 15% of new Australian mothers will experience.

We need to destroy motherhood myths that suggest we have to enjoy every single moment with our children and that we’ll always know what to do! These are having an enormously detrimental effect on every mother’s confidence” Author, Heather Irvine.

Heather_web_photosmallIrvine brings a light hearted, familiar tone to her medico perspective and even though I did think some of her witty dialogue came across a little sarcastic at times, I happily passed the book on to my very pregnant niece.

Overall, The Birth of a Modern Mum is an easy read injected with lots of important messages, solid stats and case studies, personal stories, useful links and references, and good dose of humour. I’m sure it will be a great support, and relief, for many new mums.

Headlines that grabbed my attention:

  • What you need to know about your baby in the first few months
  • Don’t worry though, the advice can be endless
  • Mindfulness exercise
  • My friend have changed
  • Handling your mother and mother in-law
  • So why are all new mothers overwhelmed?
  • Are other mother’s also stuck on the “surprising” nature of their baby’s birth?
  • Partnerless and proud?
  • Rediscovering yourself in motherhood

Heather Irvine is a Senior Clinical Psychologist and Director of the R.E.A.D Clinic – one of Australia’s largest private psychology clinics. She is based in Erina and is a proud mother of two boys aged seven and nine.

The Birth of the Modern Mum, $24.95, is available from READ Clinic: and in most bookshops.

Other reviews:

Author: Sharon Quill

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