I’ve been so glad to see more books about self-care for moms, especially since there are so many books on how to care for babies that leave us out of the equation, more or less. Strong as a Mother: How to Stay Healthy, Happy, and (Most Importantly) Sane from Pregnancy to Parenthood, the new self-care reference book from parenting author and journalist Kate Rope, is one I think all moms — expecting, new, and experienced — need to have on their bookshelves.

At the heart of Rope’s book is the still radical idea that a mother’s needs should come first, because that will enable her to care for child’s needs most effectively.

That is definitely not an idea I heard when I first became a mother a mother last year.

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Related: The non-lecturey, totally realistic book about self-care for new moms. 

Of course your needs fall under so many categories, and this book covers them all, in a helpful, friendly, totally judgment-free style. There’s pregnancy sex, supplementing breast milk, strangers who touch your belly, returning to work after baby, body image during pregnancy (and after), how to cultivate a good support network, and importantly, how to get rid of unhelpful support.

Great topics, right?

Plus, the book beautifully affirms the diversity of experience among new parents. For example, I love that the author includes quotes from new moms who were elated to find out they were pregnant — and also quotes from moms who were stricken with panic and worry.

It’s really comforting to read, especially when those pregnancy test commercials makes you feel like women must all experience a uniform level ecstasy when they see those double red lines appear on the stick.

I think this will be a fantastic reference book for so many parents, which makes it an especially loving baby shower gift for an expecting mom or new mom who’s been hard on herself (um, all of us?) and could use some a little extra support. Or maybe just permission — in print, from an expert — to take a break and go get a manicure.

Find Strong as a Mother by Kate Rope at our affiliate Amazon or your local bookseller.