I love this fascinating, totally mind-blowing book on the science and culture of pregnancy. Like A Mother's blend of essay, memoir, and reportage shows Seattle writer Angela Garbes' chops as a journalist as she interrogates cultural myths and picks apart the massive systemic issues that arise from treating pregnancy like an illness instead of "a superhuman power." Chapters range from placentas (my pick for #1 most underrated organ), breastmilk, miscarriages, and how to best care for pregnant addicts, to the violent, racist history of gynecology. Garbes' tone of curious wonder and emotional connection to her material will resonate with any reader - you don't need to have a uterus to get swept up in her enthusiasm.
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.
About the Author
Angela Garbes is a Seattle-based writer specializing in food, bodies, women’s health, and issues of racial equity and diversity. Garbes began writing for The Stranger in 2006, and became a staff writer in 2014. Her piece “The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am” is the publication’s most-read piece in its twenty-four-year history, and the inspiration for this book. Garbes is an experienced public speaker, frequent radio and podcast guest, and event moderator. She grew up in a food-obsessed, immigrant Filipino household and now lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.
“You don’t have to be a mother or even a woman to be fascinated by the science and physiology that Garbes writes about.” — NPR’s Fresh Air
“This is the book I wish had been available during my pregnancy and my baby’s first weeks of life. Angela Garbes’ voice is reassuring and relatable, and her curiosity is infectious, and her sense of humor is just what people in the trenches of early parenthood need.” — Emily Gould, of Emily Books and author of Friendship and The Heart Says Whatever
“In spite of how long women have been giving birth, there is a lot of misinformation out there about pregnancy and motherhood. Angela Garbes seeks to get it straight in Like a Mother. She not only corrects misinformation but offers advice and support.” — Bustle
“Garbes examines preconceived ideas about pregnancy and the history of women’s health from a critical standpoint, revealing the prejudices and politics so ingrained in our culture that they still affect the care (or lack thereof) pregnant women receive today. Like a Mother is a compelling read.” — The Stranger
“The science is sublime. I especially appreciated, oddly, learning how much we still don’t know about the high-stakes path to parenthood. But what got me was Garbes’ regard for mothers as people in their own right, rather than the hosts or self-sacrificing caregivers they’re conditioned to be.” — Seattle Times
“Garbes unpacks reams of pregnancy advice, often absurd in its conflicting demands. Like a Mother gave me a toolkit for approaching a hoped-for future.” — Claire Fallon, Huffington Post
“Like a Mother illustrates scientific fact with frankness and intimate detail.” — New York
“An empowering resource…Garbes 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.” — Publishers Weekly
“Like a Mother is the evidence-based, open-minded book that U.S. pregnancy culture needs…a true feminist accomplishment that puts trust and agency back with women and parents.” — Rewire.News