A groundbreaking exposé and diagnosis of the silent epidemic of fear afflicting mothers, and a candid, feminist deep dive into the culture, science, history, and psychology of contemporary motherhood.
Fear among new mothers is a growing but largely unrecognized crisis. In the months before and after birth, countless women suffer from overwhelming feelings of fear, grief, or obsession that do not fall neatly within the outmoded category of “postpartum depression.” These women are left isolated and captive, fending for themselves with scarce resources for their care and precious little time or support as they attempt to distinguish normal worry from debilitating anxiety. This crippling state of madness, though sometimes temporary, is commonly left untreated, and, perhaps even more dangerously, treated as a taboo in our culture.
Drawing on extensive research, countless interviews, and the raw particulars of her own experience with anxiety, writer and mother Sarah Menkedick gives us a comprehensive examination of the biology, psychology, history, and societal conditions surrounding the crushing and life-limiting fear that is becoming the norm for so many. Woven into the stories of women’s lives, Menkedick examines factors like the changing structure of the maternal brain, the ethically problematic ways risk is construed during pregnancy, and the marginalization of motherhood as an identity, asking how motherhood came to be an experience so dominated by anxiety and how mothers might reclaim it. Writing with profound empathy, visceral honesty, and deep understanding, Menkedick makes clear how critically we need to expand our awareness, compassion, and care for women’s lives.