Motherhood in Books: Novels about Becoming a Mother

Novels for new mothers

As a librarian, I instinctively want to read about whatever I’m experiencing in life. I found that reading about motherhood, weather it be in fiction, memoir and manuals, really helped me make sense of the changes going on in my life. I’m hoping to write a series of posts about motherhood in books but am starting with novels about becoming a mother, all of which are about women making the adjustment to motherhood. They all feature women who are getting used to their new identity as a parent and dealing with the difficulties it brings. This post contains affiliate links.


Novels for new mothers - night wakingNight Waking by Sarah Moss

Night Waking is a great mystery story as well as a reflection on the difficulties of balancing child rearing with a career. While the youngest child in the book is a toddler, his mother Anna is still struggling to find some balance, partly because he doesn’t sleep and partly because they are living on a remote island.



Novels for new mothers - After BirthAfter Birth by Elisa Albert

Albert’s brutal honestly about new motherhood makes this a very reassuring read for anyone who isn’t finding new parenthood to be a bed of roses. She is open about adoring her baby but also relishing time away from him. Ari has a lot of guilt around having had a C section and feels that breastfeeding is important which could potentially trigger guilt for some readers.


Novels for new mothers - Go to sleepGo to sleep by Helen Walsh

Go to Sleep recounts the struggles of Rachel, who has just had a baby, making her into a single mother. As novels for new mothers go, this is one of my favourites. Walsh’s writing is always raw and this story is no different. It will ring true to anyone who has experienced the sleep deprivation of having a baby and the sense of almost losing your mind that it brings.


Novels for new mothers - The hand that first held mineThe hand that first held mine by Maggie O’Farrell

While Motherhood isn’t the sole focus on this story, Elina’s struggle to get her head around the difficult birth she experienced will be familiar for many people. She finds it hard to reconcile herself as a mother with the woman and artist she was before.


Novels for new mothers - That kind of motherThat kind of mother by Rumaan Alen 

Rebecca Stone struggles to adjust to live as a mother and hires a black nanny who helps her navigate the world of parenthood. The two women develop a bond and when the nanny dies in childbirth, Rebecca adopts her baby. She soon finds that the world treats her black child and her white child very differently.


Novels for new mothers - Eleven hoursEleven Hours by Pamela Erens

While this book is about birth rather than motherhood I am including it because it’s the sort of novel for new mothers I would have liked to read just after becoming a mother. Eren’s novel covers only the time span of the character’s labour and delivery and is a very moving read for those who have recently experienced birth. 


It’s interesting that there is a common theme of sleep deprivation and exhaustion in most of these novels about becoming a mother. I think that, while we all experience motherhood differently, how tired we are is something that all mothers can relate to! You can also check out my list of books about mothering in tough times.

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Novels about becoming a mother



  1. April 9, 2019 / 9:15 am

    I always love good book recommendations. I’m definitely going to try Go To Sleep. We had months and months of sleeping for no longer than 30 mins at a time so I feel I could relate top that one.

  2. Donna
    April 9, 2019 / 1:28 pm

    Thanks for the recommendations. I don’t get around to many novels these days (I could blame motherhood but my phone is the main culprit) but hopefully I’ll get a chance to fit some in during the summer

  3. April 9, 2019 / 2:12 pm

    Thank you for this list! I will definitely start with Night Walking, as work-life balance is very dear to my heart. And I love mysteries 😉

  4. Jo
    April 10, 2019 / 8:11 am

    Some really interesting reads. I don’t read anywhere near as much as I’d like to now (pesky kids!). Need to make an effort to get back into it again.

  5. April 11, 2019 / 3:57 am

    I love a good list of books to read. I rarely get round to it but I’m spending a month at my parents’ (or free nanny service as I think of them) in May so may be able to sneak at least one in! I definitely think tiredness is something we can all bond over but #itsOK… (it isn’t)

  6. April 11, 2019 / 3:29 pm

    I’ve not heard of any of these – so top recommendations. Now I just need to make myself read again, I’m rubbish at it! (Obviously I CAN read, I just don’t!) #ItsOK

  7. April 13, 2019 / 4:54 pm

    Great recommendations. I love how you are setting a theme for your collection.

    Thanks for linking up to the #itsok linky.

  8. April 13, 2019 / 7:34 pm

    Oh these all sound really good! I can totally relate to any sleep deprivation ones!

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