Despite its title, this book reassures mothers and fathers that being “good enough” parents is OK. By giving tips advice about the first few days, weeks and months that follow birth, one of the major strengths of this book is its realism: this time of your lives may not feel “perfect”, but you, your partner and your baby will cope.
As far as author credentials go, few come better qualified than Christine and Peter Hill. A husband and wife team, the book combines the fruits of their professional experience with old fashioned common sense. For her part, Christine is a physiotherapist by training, but has lots of experience in preparing and delivering ante-natal classes. You can tell from the tone of the book that she is used to the concerns of expectant parents, and pre-empts plenty of the questions readers are likely to ask.
Peter Hill is a consultant child psychiatrist, so he is qualified to provide the ultimate reassurance that, for example, your baby will not be damaged for life if the nursery does not look like something from an expensive baby furniture catalogue! Between them, Christine and Peter Hill have the qualifications and experience to match any of the other baby manual writers out there.
Some new parents might assume that a consultant and a physiotherapist would produce a guide that is too dry. However, the book is very easy to read, with short chapters that fly by as you turn the pages. Unlike many books by health practitioners, this book is pitched at the right level, and does not take a patronising tone.
In fact, if there is any criticism of this book, it could be that some readers may be a little disappointed that there is not more scientific depth to it given the writers’ backgrounds.
It is interesting that one of the co-authors of this book is a man, and very valuable to get a father’s perspective on his new role. Many fathers may wonder where they fit in when their wife is recovering from the birth and learning to breastfeed. However, Peter’s influence is clear in giving practical advice about how fathers can contribute. There is a very useful focus here on the new father “shielding” the new family from too many visitors, which the new mother may be too tired to do.
Perhaps the most important aspect to this guide is that it addresses the issues that some parents find most hopeless. Inconsolable crying, for example, is dealt with in a chapter on its own. This chapter provides new parents with a road map to work decipher what may be wrong with their baby, and a list of warning signals which mean that their son or daughter needs medical attention if none of the causes of crying seems to ring true.
Finally, the chapter on depression is the one that is stands out as being far superior to other books. The writers acknowledge that every woman will feel demoralised at some point during the first six months of their child’s life, but they give a common sense guide to when exhaustion tips over into depression, and when you need to seek help.
If you are looking for a simple advice manual set out in short, easily referenced chapters, this book is a good buy.