Mother Brain: How Neuroscience Is Rewriting the Story of Parenthood

Macmillan. Sept. 2022. 368p. ISBN 9781250762283. $27.99. MED
In her first book, Conaboy, a journalist specializing in personal and public health, explores what neuroscience shows about the way a parent’s brain is affected by giving birth. Neurobiologists recognize and are documenting the many ways in which giving birth reorganizes the brain, actually changing neural feedback loops that affect how a person responds to social cues and the world around them and how they regulate emotions; scientists now consider this crucial postpartum time a major developmental stage. Conaboy (who was part of the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize–winning team covering the Boston Marathon bombing) deploys her journalistic skill to bring this complex subject to a readable level. She also attempts to apply a broader lens to the topic of birth and “motherhood,” most of the research about which is overly focused on white cisgender heterosexual women. Conaboy points out other data that shows that transgender men and nonbinary parents who give birth also experience a change in their brains during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Conaboy’s book isn’t a parenting manual but rather a work of pop science jam-packed with neurobiological research; it’s both fascinating and surprisingly readable.
VERDICT Highly recommended.
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