The best books for couples on the rollercoaster of pregnancy and new parenthood

The Books I Picked & Why

What About Us?: A New Parents Guide to Safeguarding Your Over-Anxious, Over-Extended, Sleep-Deprived Relationship

By Karen Kleiman, Molly McIntyre

What About Us?: A New Parents Guide to Safeguarding Your Over-Anxious, Over-Extended, Sleep-Deprived Relationship

Why this book?

From the well-known author of Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts, this book gets straight to the heart of the matter. Through on-point illustrations, it shows tired and time-poor parents how having a baby impacts a couple’s relationship, what’s really going on inside both of them, what the big issues are, and how to get through this trying time together. Parents will see themselves in the pages and find reassurance that they’re normal, not alone and it won’t last forever. I can imagine couples sitting in bed at night and having a good chuckle, maybe a good cry, and then an even better cuddle afterward. I'm honored that renowned maternal mental health expert and author Karen Kleinman recommends Becoming Us for further reading.

Best for: new parents who don’t know which way is up and for therapists working with new parents who are struggling.


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Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversations for Couples Becoming Families

By Stephanie Dueger

Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversations for Couples Becoming Families

Why this book?

What I love most about this journal-type workbook is how practical and easy to digest it is. The book doesn’t give specific advice but provides prompts and worksheets for couples to focus on the most frequent topics of concern for new parents so they can plan ahead for how to manage them. The book poses thought-provoking questions for partners to learn more about their own and each other’s experiences, values, and hopes and discover where both their challenges and strengths may be. Couples can pick it up, open it to any page, and have conversation prompts as well as an action item that can help them to move forward. I can imagine couples revisiting these conversations again and again over time to see how they’ve progressed and where any sticking points might still need to be worked through.

Best for: expecting couples or those who are thinking about having a baby with good self-awareness and for professionals to recommend to expecting couples with good self-awareness.


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Happy With Baby: Essential Relationship Advice When Partners Become Parents

By Catherine O'Brien

Happy With Baby: Essential Relationship Advice When Partners Become Parents

Why this book?

I love Catherine’s sense of humor. Even the contents page makes me laugh out loud! Catherine shares anecdotes from her own relationship with her husband Rick and examples from other couples that make this book really relatable and easy to digest. Happy With Baby provides concrete, real-world advice, lots of compassion, and inspiration for some specific topics not covered by other books including: overcoming a hard pregnancy, three questions to ask daily for better communication between partners, what to say when mom needs to take self-care and handling unwanted parenting advice that can sometimes create conflict between parents. There’s plenty of empathy in here and also some good laughs.

Best for: new parents and friends of new parents to recommend to them.


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Baby Bomb: A Relationship Survival Guide for New Parents

By Kara Hoppe, Stan Tatkin

Baby Bomb: A Relationship Survival Guide for New Parents

Why this book?

As a relationship counselor, I really appreciated Stan Tatkin’s previous books, so it was great to see this one for new parents. Co-author Kara contributes to this relationship survival guide with personal stories from her own little family and a variety of relatable examples from an inclusive and diverse range of couples. Kara also has a novel way of conceptualizing parents’ attachment styles, which underpin how partners relate to each other. This insightful and reassuring book provides 10 key guideposts and tools for couples to work with.

Best for: couples who want to understand what’s going on underneath and therapists.


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And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives

By John Gottman, Julie Schwartz Gottman

And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives

Why this book?

Learning from the Gottmans that 67% of couples report a decline in relationship satisfaction in the first three years of parenthood sparked a new generation of counselors and therapists who wanted to make a difference for expecting and new parent couples, including me! This seminal book focuses mainly on communication skills and conflict management with examples from distressed couples, and is less inclusive of LGBTQ parents and partners, but remains relevant and helpful for those in more traditional relationships.

Best for: couples to manage conflict and relationship therapists working in the perinatal field.


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