What to read after What to Expect . . . . A badass, feminist, and personal deep-dive into the science and culture of pregnancy and early motherhood that debunks myths and dated assumptions, offering guidance and camaraderie to women navigating one of the biggest and most profound changes in their lives.Like most first-time mothers, Angela Garbes was filled with questions when she became pregnant. What exactly is a placenta? How does a body go into labor? Why is breast best? What are the signs and effects of post-partum depression?But as she discovered, it’s not easy to find satisfying answers. Your OB will cautiously quote statistics; online sources will scare you with conflicting and often inaccurate information; 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 myths that surround motherhood to find answers to her questions that had only previously been given through a lens of what women ought to do—instead of allowing them the freedom to choose the right path themselves.In Like a Mother, Angela offers a rigorously researched and compelling look at the physiology, biology, chemistry, and psychology of pregnancy and motherhood, informed by research, reportage, and her own experience. With a journalist’s curiosity and discipline, a mother’s urgency, and a food writer’s insatiability, she explores the science behind the pressing questions women have about a number of subjects, including postpartum hormones, breast milk, and miscarriage.Infused with candor and humor, born out of awe, appreciation, and understanding of the human body and its workings, Like a Mother is a full-frontal look at what’s really happening underneath your skin (and to it), and why women need to know.
Like a Mother Review
- January 1, 1970JaimeThis. Is. Excellent. I say that as a mother, as a maternal-child health MPH, and as a woman. This tells it like it is, with the science and research and sociology to back it up. I laughed, i underlined, I wrote in the margins. I only wish I’d had this when I was pregnant. She writes about that dreaded postpartum poop with a candor that I loved. This should be mandatory reading for pregnant people. And anyone who loves them and cares for them.more
- January 1, 1970Jaci Millette CooperMotherhood- it's an unfolding. Of course, I don't know this firsthand- I cannot relate, but Garbes’ use of the literal unfolding of paper as a metaphor for the transformation of motherhood, gradual and all at once, makes me almost believe I can empathize: “At first, I see the unfurling of tissue and viscera, the way our placenta, unraveled, would occupy miles of space. Then, the image gives way to a paper fortune teller, the intricately folded piece of paper that my friends played with in the ca Motherhood- it's an unfolding. Of course, I don't know this firsthand- I cannot relate, but Garbes’ use of the literal unfolding of paper as a metaphor for the transformation of motherhood, gradual and all at once, makes me almost believe I can empathize: “At first, I see the unfurling of tissue and viscera, the way our placenta, unraveled, would occupy miles of space. Then, the image gives way to a paper fortune teller, the intricately folded piece of paper that my friends played with in the cafeterias and study halls of middle school. You fold down corner after corner again, creating blank chambers on which to write future possibilities. You place your fingers inside and move them inward and outward, opening and closing and opening and closing, as the paper predicts what might become of you. After, you might unfold it and lay it flat on the table, but it isn’t the same piece of paper. It holds something else now, imbued with hope anxiousness, and curiosity for the future.” (230) As much as I wish I could use a paper fortune teller to help me decide if motherhood is an undertaking I want to experience, I can’t. I’ve instead become research-obsessed. About a year ago, I read an incredibly interesting article about breast milk production of oligosaccharides solely for a baby's gut microbes and I was fascinated. Which other natural phenomena of motherhood are more complex than I ever imagined? It turns out, all of them seem to be. Since then, I have been reading up on the idiosyncratic properties of mother's milk- which, damn my social media algorithms, has also gotten me caught in webs of articles pertaining to motherhood and birth. Research is knowledge, and knowledge is power, and power is control. I am a control freak. I think I'm tricking myself into believing that research will tip the scale and make the decision more evident. The research component is necessary for any decision I make: big or small. I feel isolated in that the most massive internal conflict of my life, (with the most consequences either way, be it good or bad) seems to be an inherent or instinctual desire for most people. I believe I am good with babies and children- I am gentle, creative, loving- all things that would make a quote "good mother." But I am incredibly anxious and, frankly, I just really enjoy my life as is and I hesitate to jeopardize making it something I don't. Is that selfish? Sure, but don’t for one second think that having a child doesn't have its own roots in selfishness. Either way, it isn’t a decision I want to take lightly— and it is a decision I wish more people did not take lightly. Up until recently, I was completely oblivious to how difficult and depressing the transformation into parenthood is: society used to consider it taboo to speak about it in anything other than a positive light, but now more mothers are being open about just how hard it is. As Garbes says, “We lack stories- diverse stories- about pregnancy and motherhood.”I'm already dissatisfied with the care a woman receives after birthing a child and I haven't even come close to experiencing firsthand. My sister's prenatal and postpartum care opened my eyes to the ways our cultural norms relentlessly fail expectant mothers. Doctors, not to mention random members of society, meticulously monitor your body and choices when pregnant, but postpartum care is essentially non-existent! You're on your own. Hormonal changes aside, this lack of support leaves no room for question as to why so many women suffer from postpartum depression. Living away from home and being conscientious of my own hormonal issues, I worry I won't have the support I always envisioned I’d have. The old adage “It takes a village to raise a child” is so true, and we no longer have villages: we live in a culture that is obsessed with autonomy and the nuclear family unit. Now, as Garbes explains, many expectant mothers hire a doula, especially if they live away from extended family. While I think doulas are wonderful, I find it sad that our culture must hire and pay for support, care, and wisdom that we as women should naturally provide one another, especially since those women using doulas are white upper-class— what do other women without family closeby do? Many are an island. They endure the hardship of motherhood alone. This book brought what most books on the topic lack: anatomy and science. I'm sure we all know how babies are made and enter the world, but Garbes puts full body female health into perspective all while not dismissing or undermining anecdotal experience. The most fascinating part of this book is at the end when Garbes discusses the exchange between fetal and maternal cells. Garbes highlights the recently-discovered ubiquity of microchimeric cells in the female body and their role in maternal injury recovery— like in C-section scars, so when someone says they are changed after motherhood, it is true down to the cellular level. If you want an all-encompassing meditation on motherhood from placenta encapsulation, to the fluctuating feelings of self-worth, to the tit-spraying, milk-soaked, post-baby, laugh-out-loud, sex scenes, this book is for you. In fact, think everyone could benefit from reading this, not just expectant mothers, mothers who need to feel less alone, or the baby-curious researchers like me. *This is an ARC- To be published May 2018.*more
- January 1, 1970KatyaThere is some great stuff in this title, and I enjoyed reading it. Garbes is a thoughtful and illustrative writer--she really digs into imagery and detail. I wish, though, that this book had been more heavily edited. There is no clear throughline, and subjects thus receive a random-seeming amount of attention, which varies quite a bit from topic to topic. While of course Garbes makes no claim to having written a comprehensive book, I feel she could have tried a little more to include more topics There is some great stuff in this title, and I enjoyed reading it. Garbes is a thoughtful and illustrative writer--she really digs into imagery and detail. I wish, though, that this book had been more heavily edited. There is no clear throughline, and subjects thus receive a random-seeming amount of attention, which varies quite a bit from topic to topic. While of course Garbes makes no claim to having written a comprehensive book, I feel she could have tried a little more to include more topics or to add more focus to her narrative. Also, despite her best efforts to be inclusive, I wouldn't recommend this book to single mothers or to those who have been unable to breastfeed--while they would enjoy many aspects of it, the focus on human milk and on the amazingness of Garbes' partner might be hard to take. Critiques aside, when this book is good it's great, and I'll remember many anecdotes and factual tidbits from it for quite a while.more
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