A candid, feminist, and personal deep dive into the science and culture of pregnancy and motherhood
Like most first-time mothers, Angela Garbes was filled with questions when she became pregnant. What exactly is a placenta and how does it function? How does a body go into labor? Why is breast best? Is wine totally off-limits? But as she soon discovered, it’s not easy to find satisfying answers. Your obstetrician will cautiously quote statistics; online sources will scare you with conflicting and often inaccurate data; and even the most trusted books will offer information with a heavy dose of judgment. To educate herself, the food and culture writer embarked on an intensive journey of exploration, diving into the scientific mysteries and cultural attitudes that surround motherhood to find answers to questions that had only previously been given in the form of advice about what women ought to do—rather than allowing them the freedom to choose the right path for themselves.
In Like a Mother, Garbes offers a rigorously researched and compelling look at the physiology, biology, and psychology of pregnancy and motherhood, informed by in-depth reportage and personal experience. With the curiosity of a journalist, the perspective of a feminist, and the intimacy and urgency of a mother, she explores the emerging science behind the pressing questions women have about everything from miscarriage to complicated labors to postpartum changes. The result is a visceral, full-frontal look at what’s really happening during those nine life-altering months, and why women deserve access to better care, support, and information.
Infused with humor and born out of awe, appreciation, and understanding of the female body and its strength, Like a Mother debunks common myths and dated assumptions, offering guidance and camaraderie to women navigating one of the biggest and most profound changes in their lives.
Spurred by frustration as a first-time mother receiving an overwhelming amount of advice from doctors, books, and the internet that was "definitive yet contradictory" and "inextricably tied to the language of morality," Garbes has created an empowering resource "rooted in emerging science and real-life stories." In each chapter, she shares up-to-date, well-substantiated information about women's physical and mental health, aiming to help readers reduce their anxiety and make truly informed choices. Garbes is at her strongest in chapters that address the biology of pregnancy and lactation in detail, bringing a geeky sense of wonder to the composition and functionality of breast milk, the structure of the placenta, and the care of the pelvic floor. In other chapters, she approaches the complex topic of risk with introspection rather than judgement, discussing the fraught question of whether to use psychiatric medicines during pregnancy. Finally, Garbes makes space to talk intimately about her most distressing experiences as a mother, such as the grief of miscarriage and the terror of losing control when labor does not go to plan. Throughout this thoughtful book, she speaks to her readers as peers, providing affirmation that their experiences are important and that they are not alone.