By Sophie Burch. Illustrated by Margo McDaid. £24.99. Published by Beyond Birth.
Reviewed by Motherdom Editorial Board member and yoga and mindfulness therapist Shweta Panchal.
Sophie’s wonderful resource is gently guiding, and full of wisdom and support. It has a simple but powerful message running through it, which is ‘you can do this’. The beauty of the Beyond Birth Guide is that as well as providing useful practical information, it effectively steers parents towards a better understanding of their physical and emotional journey, and the existential impact of their personal and unique transition to parenthood. Sophie pays particular attention to the fears mums and dads have and how they can attend to them in practical, kind, and compassionate ways. She considers the compelling role of societal expectations and examines the unhelpful existing social narratives on parenthood, and empowers readers to see and understand themselves beyond the many societal and media lenses.
The book provides a framework of personal analysis and inquiry that helps to normalise difficult emotions, and introduces ways in which strong feelings can be examined and processed. Meditation, breathwork, journaling and self-reflective inquiry are all ways that Sophie proposes that parents can get in touch with themselves and their feelings. There are also easy to follow and thoughtful activities. The Beyond Birth Guide encourages reflection on how we can nurture ourselves.
Sophie provides practical guidance on how mums and dads can make best use of restful times, thereby expanding the notion of self-care and how to engage with it in ways that are truly nourishing and important for the individual. Sophie provides an insightful framework that we can use to approach our inner critic and suggests important ways in which we can reclaim notions of ‘doing our best’.
I particularly appreciated the attention given in the book to understanding the nature of support. Most of us know that we would benefit greatly in asking others for help and support, but the act of asking itself can be challenging and laden with negative messages. Sophie provides practical and useful reflections on this topic.
Overall, this is a powerful resource for parents interesting in supporting their personal journey into parenthood and one that helps attend to the varied emotional themes that can arise during this time. It includes a useful section for dads and partners, which allows them to integrate their path of self-inquiry with the path of the birthing woman and mother. An essential resource packed with practical and compassionate wisdom. Thank you Sophie!