Rattled: How to Calm New Mom Anxiety with the Power of the Postpartum Brain (Hardcover)
noun /ma'tres.?nts/ the process of becoming a mother: The physical, psychological, and emotional changes you go through after the birth of your child . . . largely unexplored in the medical community. —Cambridge Dictionary
Most new mothers bring their infants to the doctor but ignore any distressing feelings or sensations they might themselves have—that sense of being “rattled” at many moments throughout the day and night. In Rattled, Dr. Nicole Pensak shares her own experiences and those of her patients to help new mothers feel informed, validated, and guided through matrescence. After giving birth, a woman often feels like a completely different person. It may sound dramatic, but the rollercoaster of physical and psychological changes affects brain and body in a similar way that adolescence changes us. To compound that, many women hide these feelings, worrying that something is wrong with them.
Dr. Nicole Pensak is here to reassure us that being “rattled” is normal, and not at all surprising. After all, seismic changes in identity and emotion have occurred. Research shows that a woman’s brain shifts in real, biological ways very quickly after giving birth. Many women become hypervigilant, for good reason: the brain is telling her to stay alert because she has a human to keep alive and safe. While these brainpower boosts can cause anxious feelings, they can also help to manage the distress and harness the advantages of the postpartum brain. In fact, this is a time of neuroplasticity, when the brain is more receptive to positive reinforcement.
Trained at Yale and Harvard and certified in perinatal mental health, Dr. Pensak provides practical and emotional support, helping to relieve the anxiety and pressure for perfection in motherhood and paving the way for a better beginning for families and babies. She discusses mental health treatment and the upside of therapy during this changing time, and offers accessible scientific information, relatable anecdotes, and strategies for self-care. The result is a reassuring and practical handbook that new mothers and their families will refer to time and again.
— Eve Rodsky, New York Times best-selling author of Fair Play and national bestseller Find Your Unicorn Space
Nicole’s book will be the essential item for new moms, included in baby showers and gifted from one tired mama to another. Thank goodness for Nicole who is there to help and look out for all of us!
— Zibby Owens, host of Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books
Our children are precious—and so are their mothers. This extraordinarily helpful book provides fresh insights and many practical suggestions for those crucially important first years. Dr. Pensak is brilliant, funny, blunt, honest about her own experiences, and endlessly kind and supportive. In our turbulent days—and when the so-called village it takes to raise a child often looks more like a ghost town—we need her guidance more than ever.
— Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Mother Nurture, Buddha’s Brain, and Making Great Relationships
Rattled is a must-read for all mothers. Dr. Pensak seamlessly blends science and practical strategies that finally changes the narrative around ‘mommy brain.’ Eloquently capturing the true wonder of the mother’s brain, Dr. Pensak brings much-needed attention and clarity to the physiological and psychological changes that occur over the course of a mother’s development and shares tangible strategies [and] easy-to-use tools to empower mothers through their own evolution (and protect their mental health). Dr. Pensak is funny, raw, and inviting, sharing her own unique journey into the chaotic and beautiful world of motherhood. Thank you, Dr. Pensak for helping us as mothers feel seen during this time of profound transformation, and for giving us the tools to ‘up the ante’ and thrive. Rattled has instantly reached the top of my list of recommendations for all moms I work with. . . . I can’t wait to recommend to my patients, family, and friends.
— Elizabeth Reichert, PhD, codirector, Stanford Parenting Center, Stanford School of Medicine
In this incredibly supportive and practical resource for new mothers everywhere, Rattled equips women with what to psychologically expect ‘when you are expecting,’ and guides new mothers through the power and peril of matrescense, the developmental stage of motherhood we didn’t know existed or were taught to believe had no possible upsides. Through a blend of rigorous science and personal anecdotes, Dr. Pensak offers compelling new and alternative explanations for our anxieties and perceived inadequacies while artfully connecting us with a concrete and hopeful path forward.
— Jamie Jacobs, PhD, director of caregiving research, Mass General Cancer Center; assistant professor of psychology, Harvard Medical School; and mom of two
Nicole Pensak’s Rattled is essential reading for moms and dads and the loved ones and caregivers who support them. It answers so many of the questions my wife and I had about how motherhood changes, influences, and shapes new moms, and it answers them thoughtfully, empathically, and with the authority of science and practical experience. Pensak is the perfect guide on this journey, enriching Rattled with her experiences as an author, researcher, scientist, therapist—and, of course, mom—trained in post-partum therapy, anxiety, and depression. Highly recommended!
— Adam Alter, professor of psychology and marketing, New York University’s Stern School of Business and Psychology Department, and New York Times best-selling author, Anatomy of a Breakthrough and