Mom genes Inside the new science of our ancient maternal instinct

Abigail Tucker

Book - 2021

"Everyone knows how babies are made, but scientists are only just beginning to understand the making of a mother. Mom Genes reveals the hard science behind our tenderest maternal impulses, tackling questions such as whether a new mom's brain ever really bounces back, why mothers are destined to mimic their own moms (or not), and how maternal aggression makes females the world's most formidable creatures." -- inside front jacket flap.

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Subjects
Genres
Anecdotes
Published
New York : Gallery Books 2021.
Edition
First Gallery Books hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
315 pages : 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 269-307) and index.
ISBN
9781501192852
150119285X
Main Author
Abigail Tucker (author)
  • Introduction.
  • Of mice and moms
  • Momentum
  • Dad genes
  • The whole shebang
  • Mommy weirdest
  • Mother of invention
  • In search of the mom gene
  • Are you kidding me?
  • Thermometers
  • No mom is an island
  • Motherland.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Science writer Tucker's (The Lion in the Living Room, 2016) humorous book advocates for women's empowerment by recognizing the complex neurological and chemical changes involved in becoming a mother. Tucker examines evolutionary biology and neurochemistry in the animal kingdom to question what maternal instinct means and how new mothers develop it, interweaving personal anecdotes from her own journey into motherhood that alternate between moving and amusing. Her conclusion—that maternal instinct indeed exists—comes with a warning: it is neither joyfully innate nor a magical enlightenment, but rather a volatile transmogrification, a sort of birth a woman herself undergoes. Tucker empathizes with women made vulnerable by their own dynamic neurochemistry in a politically gridlocked culture resistant to systemic changes that would support mothers. Using clever, colorful, figurative language and a warm, conversational tone, Tucker documents the complex challenges women who become mothers face. Readers might come in to learn what baby cuddles do to the brain, be tempted to leave over the poop talk and placenta eating, but ultimately stay for the acknowledgment Tucker gives to the unique experience of motherhood. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

Science writer Tucker's (The Lion in the Living Room, 2016) humorous book advocates for women's empowerment by recognizing the complex neurological and chemical changes involved in becoming a mother. Tucker examines evolutionary biology and neurochemistry in the animal kingdom to question what maternal instinct means and how new mothers develop it, interweaving personal anecdotes from her own journey into motherhood that alternate between moving and amusing. Her conclusion—that maternal instinct indeed exists—comes with a warning: it is neither joyfully innate nor a magical enlightenment, but rather a volatile transmogrification, a sort of birth a woman herself undergoes. Tucker empathizes with women made vulnerable by their own dynamic neurochemistry in a politically gridlocked culture resistant to systemic changes that would support mothers. Using clever, colorful, figurative language and a warm, conversational tone, Tucker documents the complex challenges women who become mothers face. Readers might come in to learn what baby cuddles do to the brain, be tempted to leave over the poop talk and placenta eating, but ultimately stay for the acknowledgment Tucker gives to the unique experience of motherhood. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

New York Times best-selling author Tucker (The Lion in the Living Room) considers the biology of motherhood, from basic instincts to whether a new mother's brain ever returns to its previous state. With a 75,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The term maternal instinct is a common one, describing the supposedly innate quality that one either has or doesn't have. In her latest work, Tucker (The Lion in the Living Room) examines the hard science behind maternal instinct. Meticulously researched and well-documented, Mom Genes is one part memoir (Tucker intersperses her own experiences as a white mother of four children), and one part incredibly readable popular science. It turns out that far from being born with maternal instinct, mothers instead begin to manufacture the instinct with the onset of pregnancy. Mothers are biologically different from their pre-pregnancy states and from the rest of humankind; for instance, structural changes occur in the gray matter of the brain during pregnancy. What role do hormones and genes play, for example? How do imprinted paternal genes in the placenta work to maximize maternal care? If the maternal state is universal, why is each mother so different? To answer this last question, Tucker explores the effects of differences in health care, income inequality, and racism in addition to biological influences. VERDICT Richly entertaining, filled with humor, and deeply informative, this engaging book is recommended for mothers, potential mothers, and anyone who has ever known a mother.—Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's Sch., Brooklyn Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Journalist Tucker (The Lion in the Living Room) takes readers on a tour of the "science behind the tender maternal instinct" in this revealing survey. Worldwide, Tucker writes, "more than 90 percent of all women become moms," yet the "cellular-level revolution that rebuilds the female brain" during pregnancy and beyond is still poorly understood. Among the fascinating topics Tucker digs into are that "moms dream differently than other people," that experience babysitting can predict postnatal hormone changes in men, and that the inner workings of baby-to-mom messaging (such as fetal movements) "serve an important psychological purpose." Environmental factors such as access to shelter, chemical pollutants, and socioeconomic background, meanwhile, can increase depression and may even affect a baby's sex—she cites a Columbia University study which showed that 70% of "the most emotionally and physically maxed-out" participants had girls. Tucker has a knack for making complex science accessible, and she encouragingly touts the importance of mothers having a support system: "New mothers depend on others for physical help... for practical guidance... and also for the more mysterious matter of emotional sustenance." Moms-to-be in search of a straightforward look at the changes ahead will find this a good place to start. (Apr.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Book Description "For anyone who is a mother, or who has a mother, [Mom Genes] is an eye-opening tour through the biology and psychology of a role that is at once utterly ordinary and wondrously strange." -Annie Murphy Paul, author of Origins From the New York Times bestselling author of The Lion in the Living Room comes a fascinating and provocative exploration of the biology of motherhood. Everyone knows how babies are made, but scientists are only just beginning to understand the making of a mother. Mom Genes reveals the hard science behind our tenderest maternal impulses, tackling questions such as whether a new mom's brain ever really bounces back, why mothers are destined to mimic their own moms (or not), and how maternal aggression makes females the world's most formidable creatures. Part scientific odyssey, part memoir, Mom Genes weaves the latest research with Abigail Tucker's personal experiences to create a delightful, surprising, and poignant portrait of motherhood. It's vital reading for anyone who has ever wondered what rocks the hand that rocks the cradle"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Part scientific odyssey, part memoir, this fascinating and thought-provoking exploration of the biology of motherhood reveals the hard science behind our tenderest maternal impulses. 75,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Lion in the Living Room comes a fascinating and provocative exploration of the biology of motherhood that 'is witty, reassuring, and takes motherhood out of the footnotes and places it front and center'where it belongs' (Louann Brizendine, MD, New York Times bestselling author). Everyone knows how babies are made, but scientists are only just beginning to understand the making of a mother. Mom Genes reveals the hard science behind our tenderest maternal impulses, tackling questions such as why mothers are destined to mimic their own moms (or not), how maternal aggression makes females the world's most formidable creatures, and how a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic can make or break a mom.Weaving the latest research with Abigail Tucker's personal experiences, Mom Genes 'is an eye-opening tour through the biology and psychology of a role that is at once utterly ordinary and wondrously strange' (Annie Murphy Paul, author of Origins).

Review by Publisher Summary 4

'For anyone who is a mother, or who has a mother, [Mom Genes] is an eye-opening tour through the biology and psychology of a role that is at once utterly ordinary and wondrously strange.' 'Annie Murphy Paul, author of OriginsFrom the New York Times bestselling author of The Lion in the Living Room comes a fascinating and provocative exploration of the biology of motherhood.Everyone knows how babies are made, but scientists are only just beginning to understand the making of a mother. Mom Genes reveals the hard science behind our tenderest maternal impulses, tackling questions such as whether a new mom's brain ever really bounces back, why mothers are destined to mimic their own moms (or not), and how maternal aggression makes females the world's most formidable creatures. Part scientific odyssey, part memoir, Mom Genes weaves the latest research with Abigail Tucker's personal experiences to create a delightful, surprising, and poignant portrait of motherhood. It's vital reading for anyone who has ever wondered what rocks the hand that rocks the cradle.