A Book Review of Mom Brain: Proven Strategies to Fight the Anxiety, Guilt, and Overwhelming Emotions of Motherhood—and Relax into Your New Self
I found out I was pregnant with my second child the week the country shut down for the pandemic. It set the tone for my whole pregnancy. Anxiety, isolation, and immense uncertainty followed me through those long 10 months and into my daughter’s first year. Of course there were wonderful and joyous times, too. But overall, I wasn’t myself. I had postpartum anxiety and a baby who wouldn’t take a bottle (no matter how hard I tried—and I tried for months). This meant I was on mom duty around the clock. I was only able to untether myself for a two-hour window between nursing, even while returning to work (from home). We often talk about parental burnout— well, I was burnt to a crisp, and then some.
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Mom Burnout Meet Mom Brain
But then in walked Mom Brain (metaphorically speaking) and I felt seen and supported. I had booked Dr. Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco, PhD for the Moms Meet Virtual WOW Summit to help our community of moms navigate parenting through these anxious times. Dr. Dobrow DiMarco is a clinical psychologist. She helps women use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and evidence-based strategies to guide them through the ups and downs of motherhood.
After hearing her speak, I wanted to learn more and quickly got my hands on a copy of Mom Brain. It then sat for far too long on my nightstand—because mom life—until I picked it up. And then I couldn’t put it down. Ever since I’ve recommended it to countless other moms and have put it on my mental babyshower list for the soon-to-be moms in my life.
About Mom Brain
Mom Brain walks us through the emotional, cognitive, and physical changes that moms experience when they go from single human to mother. It covers honest feelings of a loss of identity and how to cope with the constant worries of parenthood. It even covers the challenges and changes for you with your partner in this transition. Plus, so much more. I love that it’s a book for moms about us and our experiences. So much of motherhood is focused on what you do for others.
The best part of reading this book was learning how to incorporate CBT into my life as a parent. Using CBT strategies and looking at the world through an evidence-based lens is incredibly grounding, especially if you tend to spiral out from stress and anxiety.
What is CBT?
In Mom Brain, Dr. Dobrow DiMarco explains that “CBT is a short-term, action-focused form of psychotherapy comprised of specific techniques that have been supported by research findings. The aim of CBT work is to improve your functioning by making changes in the way you think about a situation, the way you behave, and the way you interpret and respond to emotions. CBT skills are often used in tandem with skills from two other evidence-based treatments, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Like CBT, DBT and ACT offer specific coping strategies, with an emphasis on emotion regulation, mindfulness work, and values-based action.”
One of the concepts involves “rethinking your thoughts.” So if you have decided that you are the worst mom in the world because you left the house for some me-time while your child is standing at the door crying for you (even after 10 minutes of hugs and kisses), it’s time to rethink. (Pssst, this is me this past weekend.) The evidence shows countless examples that I am a very good mom. And I will be an even more present mom once I return because I have had a break. This is such a powerful strategy for those of us who deal with mom guilt.
Dr. Dobrow DiMarco is so real and honest throughout each page. She acknowledges the nitty gritty of motherhood while at the same time supporting you through it. She is one of us, and that’s why this book feels so authentic and so incredibly valuable. Mom life is so hard and so all encompassing. This book helps to put it in perspective and gives you the tools to work through the tough stuff so you can focus on the joys of motherhood and your new identity.
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