Angela Garbes' Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy is part science, part memoir, part expedition of the vast oceans of all things pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood through the feminist lens.
Like a Mother touches on broader topics such as the history and culture of childbirth in America and disparities and lack of representation of people of color, as well as useful or often omitted topics like the fascinating placenta, the importance of pelvic floor health, and, my favorite: microchimera. Garbes' also recounts her own birth experience in a very raw, candid, and enlightening way.
Like a Mother doesn't dive deeply into any one topic, but rather provides an overview of many important subjects, inspiring the reader towards deeper consideration. It provides forthright and informative, yet digestable, context for the way we experience pregnancy, birth, and motherhood in America.
Garbes' presents the facts alongside her own experiences in an honest and hopeful way. Hopeful in that we are made to do this human growing/birthing/mothering thing, we can do this human growing/birthing/mothering thing, and that while it's an amazing and imperfect process we can strive for improvement with a careful and considerate gaze. This book is not going to collect dust on your bedside table, a chore to get through; Like a Mother is informative, comforting, reassuring, empowering, and also engaging. An impressive balance.
In America we treat motherhood like a badge to collect or a hat to put on and take off when it suits, but the truth is pregnancy and birth is a transformative process. It is a rebirth where we come out the other side not only with a new person in our arms, but as a new being ourselves. Motherhood changes us mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, logistically, and in the very cells of our bodies. It is time we not only consider and acknowledge this, but truly seek to understand what it means.
- Birth explored through a feminist lens (as it should be)
- A good mix of science, useful topics, and engaging firsthand experience
- Utterly readable and enlightening
- Good not only for expectant parents, but all people - birth affects us all!
- Garbes' is a woman of color adding her narrative to the conversation, something we need to create the opportunity for far more of.
- Not comprehensive or deeply scientific (it isn't expected to be.) Do your deep dive elsewhere (after reading this book!)
- Heavily focused on Garbes' personal narrative and experience so it does not offer a complete picture of what everyone may experience.
Why You Should Read It:
Like a Mother is not going to teach you all there is to know about pregnancy, birth, and parenting. It is going to give you important context to understand what you're experiencing. It is going to inspire you to tune back in to your own instincts. It is going to provoke you to seek out additional information on subjects that are important to you. It is going to help shift your focus to understand the inherent value you hold as a woman and mother and embolden you to wield that power. And that is worth the read.