Broadcast: May 12, 2019 at 4 p.m.
Giving birth. Giving support. Being there. Being exhausted. To mark Mother’s Day, this program reflects on some of the ways humans — and other species — juggle fierce love and the never-ending demands of childcare.
America doesn’t have enough OBGYNs
Shawnee Baker was in labor. Her husband was trying his best to get his wife to the hospital in time. As they bumped along country roads, Shawnee imagined giving birth on the side of the highway. If you’re a pregnant woman in rural Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, that’s your reality. There’s one obstetrician and he only comes to town three times a month. Elizabeth Fiedler hung out with him and a waiting room full of pregnant women.
Freeloading bird forces others to raise her hatchlings
The brown-headed cowbird may be one of the most hated birds in the animal kingdom. The cowbird is a brood parasite: she lays her eggs in the nest of another bird, and then ‘muscles’ that mama bird into fostering her cowbird nestling. Paige Pfleger narrates the cutthroat drama happening in the treetops.
Dads are wired to 'mother' too
The role of "caregiver" in parenting is often synonymous with mom. But biology tells a different story about the important role fathers play. Fathers don't just function as male mothers; they provide a kind of caregiving that's unique to dads. But, society's old-fashioned ideas about parenting roles might be making it more difficult for dads to do their jobs. Max Green does ‘daddy duty’ with a father in Illinois.
A zygote writes an apology letter to mom
From single-cell zygote to nutrient sucking embryo, Rebecca Helm charts the journey of a growing fetus in its host uterus. Helm is a biologist and it’s her special, handmade Mother’s Day card to her mom.
The ‘baby penalty’ often sidelines women scientists
On the way to the hospital to deliver her first daughter, bioengineer Nancy Pleshko stopped by FedEx to drop off a grant application. “That’s your life when you’re a scientist in academia,” she says. Pleshko went on to lead a science lab, but an inflexible work culture in science leads some women to find other careers or to adjust their family planning goals. Alan Yu speaks with young scientist mom who got off the tenure track to take an industry job.
Interviews with host Maiken Scott
Miscarriage: a common experience we don’t talk about much
OB-GYN Courtney Schreiber runs a University of Pennsylvania program for newly pregnant women and women who have experienced miscarriage. One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, and Schrieber says the health system should do a better job preparing women for that possibility — and caring for them when it happens.
The interview follows a first-person story from 31-year-old Carolina Garzon. Today she’s mom to smiling five-month-old Emma, but her first try at motherhood ended in a miscarriage. Garzon gave Alex Stern a tour of the wildflower garden she planted to remember her first pregnancy.
Mother dolphins sing to their babies in the womb
While studying Bella the bottlenose dolphin and her calf Mira, researcher Audra Ames documented Bella’s ‘signature whistle.’ Dolphins vocalize the whistle before and after giving birth to imprint the sound on their babies. Ames is based at the Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Lab at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Physics is a mother
If you struggled in your high school physics class, you might not have warm feelings about the study of atoms and quarks. But physics has been called the “mother of all sciences,” because it explains the fundamental laws that govern nature, and, without it, other branches couldn’t exist. Science writer Jennifer Ouellette overcame her fear of physics, made a career writing about it, and married a physicist.
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