A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

The ‘Bliss Myth’


What No One Tells You: A Guide to Your Emotions from Pregnancy to Motherhood, by Alexandra Sacks, MD, and Catherine Birndorf, MD, Simon & Schuster

Getting pregnant is sudden and life changing—and for many women (many more than we’re led to believe), it’s not all for the good.

Birndorf MD’95 and Sacks are psychiatrists in New York who care for pregnant and new mothers. If there’s one belief they want to dispel for both patients and readers, it’s the “bliss myth”: that motherhood equals joy. This expectation of happiness, they argue, “is not only unrealistic, it’s dangerous.”

Explaining the complex psychology and hormones that affect pregnant women and new moms could easily become dense and unwieldy. But the authors keep the tone light and the pace quick, with patient anecdotes, bulleted lists, and how-to boxes, to guide readers through unexpected challenges like loss of identity; guilt for a range of choices related to work, breastfeeding, and more; and medical complications, miscarriage, and postpartum depression.

Through it all they reassure readers: you are not alone. Writing about the dramatic and sometimes humiliating changes that happen in the third trimester, Birndorf and Sacks get to the heart of why they wrote their book: “We believe if women started sharing rather than keeping secrets about their bodies during pregnancy, it could normalize (and revolutionize) an experience that’s been viewed as a source of embarrassment or shame.”


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