What No One Tells You: A Guide to Your Emotions from Pregnancy to Motherhood

Alexandra Sacks and Catherine Birndorf

Pregnancy can be joyful. But for many, a positive pregnancy test can feel like an admission ticket to an intense roller-coaster ride.

There’s the pressure of choosing a name, deciding on a birth plan and managing relatives’ reactions. There are weird, gross and uncomfortable bodily sensations. And all too often, there’s a sense of fear, trauma and even loss.

Popular pregnancy guidebooks mostly focus on body and baby, not a pregnant person’s mind. “What No One Tells You” does the opposite. Written by reproductive psychiatrists Alexandra Sacks and Catherine Birndorf, it’s a guide to the inner experience of pregnancy, birth and the first year postpartum.

The book takes a chronological approach to pregnancy, covering everything from telling your partner you’re pregnant to navigating how friendships change after you have a baby. And it doesn’t stop in the delivery room — it covers emotions after birth, too.

Though it’s written by medical professionals, the book reads like a reality check from a calm friend. It doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff, either. Topics like fears of motherhood, miscarriage, deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy, having sex, and not falling in love with a child are all addressed. An appendix covers postpartum depression and antidepressant use in pregnancy and beyond, and a resource list provides further reading.

From the outset, the authors break through what they call the “bliss myth”: the fiction that motherhood is all joy, all the time. In the process, “What No One Tells You” makes room for something better — acknowledgment of the complexity and reality of motherhood. There’s no one way to become a mother, the authors suggest — and that’s just fine.

Erin Blakemore