Book Review: Oh Baby! a Mom’s Self-care Survival Guide for the First Year

Having a baby in the social media age is markedly different than when I had my first baby. In 2005, I hung out every day on iVillage (who remembers THAT) and chatted with my friends who were mamas too and some who weren’t. The single best piece of advice I got was from my friend Lisa who has 5 children and told me to read a book about breastfeeding BEFORE the baby comes because once the baby comes “you will have no time.” She was SO RIGHT. From breastfeeding to self-care, modern mamas have so much to worry about and sometimes it seems like the worry never ends. Maria Lianos_Carbone wrote the book for the modern mama who is trying to keep it all balanced but still feels like she is failing someone at each turn. For our book review, we turned to local mom and blogger, Sarah Khan, to give us her take. Her oldest is almost 10 and THEN she had a baby 7 months ago. So what changed since her last go around to this time? Here’s the skinny on Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-care Survival Guide for the First Year: Because Moms Need a Little TLC, Too! in her own words.

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When I had my first baby nearly 10 years ago, I devoured every baby book I could. I was pretty much on my own as far as having a baby was concerned – my mom had passed earlier that year, and as I was living overseas I had no other friends with kids. After all, as a new mom how do you know what to ask when you don’t know what you need to know?

At the time, much of what was available was very much geared toward baby – what to do if, what to do when, and how to do it. So I spent all of my time devoted to baby, quite often at my own expense. Often the tone was black and white, and the philosophy clear: “Do it this way or you’re a bad mom. There’s no other way.”

Times have changed and this time around I read more blogs than books, disagreed with many of them, often just googling specific information in response to specific questions. I mean, I’d done it before so I kind of remembered the big stuff. But it wasn’t the big stuff I had to remember. It was the little things. The day to day things.

Where baby books and blogs traditionally focus very much on baby’s needs, and what you as a new mom must do to meet those needs, it’s refreshing to finally read a book that focuses just as much on mom’s needs. That book is Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year.

Author, Maria Llanos-Carbone catalogues with exceptional care and detail the ins and outs of having a new baby and what that means for you, right down to what to expect from those first days in hospital, peeing (you), pooping (you), bath time, breastfeeding, first doctor visits and what your baby and you need to get through it all.

While the book does cover what to look forward to in each area of baby-rearing, it also talks about, for example, which hygiene items you should take from your stay in hospital to make the transition at home that much easier for you. She covers how baby’s clinginess will affect your sanity. She talks about how your body, and your friendships, will change. Permanently.

She also devotes entire sections specifically to things like post-partum depression, “depleted mom syndrome”, mom guilt, and hormones. She even talks about how your relationship with your partner will be affected, and provides great, realistic ideas for reconnecting.

The book is laid out in a very easy to read fashion using a tone that any new mom will appreciate. It’s kind, funny, brutally honest and not condescending.

Peppered throughout the book are anecdotes from real moms with real tips and real advice. What I also really appreciated was that when the author recommended other resources, there was no obvious bias toward one parenting philosophy or another. She simply lists popular resources and allows you to make the choice that fits best.

My favourite part of the book? How to tell visitors to get lost without ruining relationships, and how to deal graciously with unsolicited advice.

Overall, a great read and a must have for any new mom. It’s sure to answer many questions you’ll have before you even know you have them.

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