Book Review: This Isn’t What I Expected

Reviewing This Isn’t What I Expected by Karen R. Kleiman, Valerie Davis Raskin

This is a brilliant book that deals with postpartum depression and also – though not quite to the same degree – postpartum anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and psychosis. It debunks the myths associated with postpartum mental illness and acknowledges that some feelings of overwhelm and ‘baby blues’ are a normal part of adjusting to life with a new baby. It then very clearly demonstrates how these feelings differ in those with postpartum mental illness, and how to recognise this. This is SUCH important information to have out there!

It functions as a work-book for mothers who are struggling, with exercises, questionaires and real life examples to work with. It allows mothers to recognise postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD or psychosis, and very clearly pinpoints when there is a postpartum emergency where women need to go to hospital. It gives techniques to break negative thought patterns, explores ways to cope, discusses the importance (and difficulty) of looking after yourself and how to make time for this, and explores the role of medication, therapy and support. It also delves into our expectations of parenthood and ways to reclaim self-esteem. It also has a chapter for partners, giving them concrete ways to help support their significant other.

The only thing that I feel would have been great to include is an exploration of the link between breastfeeding struggles and postpartum mental illness, when there are numerous studies that explore and confirm this link.

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