57 Enlightening Facts about Mothers

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published September 26, 2016
  • Gaia, or Mother Earth, was the first goddess in Greek mythology. She created herself out of primordial chaos. She also created Earth and the universe.[20]
  • The African Black Eagle typically will lay two eggs. After they hatch, the mother will just feed one of the chicks. The other chick is usually pecked to death by the other chick while the mother looks on.[3]
  • The mother who gives birth to the largest baby on Earth is a mother elephant. After enduring 22 months of pregnancy, she gives birth to a blind, 200-pound calf.[21]
  • A mother koala will feed her baby her own feces. Baby koalas—or joeys—haven’t developed the intestinal bacteria that help detoxify the highly poisonous eucalyptus leaves, which are a koala’s main diet.[3]
  • Polar bear moms put on around 400 pounds during their pregnancy. If the mother doesn’t double her weight, her body will simply reabsorb the fetus.[3]
  • A mother orangutan never puts her babies down and typically nurses them for 6 or 7 years, which is the longest mother/child nursing dependence of any animal on Earth.[21]
  • Mother's Day is second after Christmas for the most popular day to buy flowers
  • Americans spend $14.6 billion on gifts on Mother’s Day, including $671 million on cards and $1.9 billion on flowers.[10]
  • One of the most famous mothers in literary history is Grendel’s mother from Beowulf (A.D. 800–1100). While she is nameless, she attacks Beowulf’s army to avenge the death of her son.[16]
  • June Cleaver, the mother in the TV show Leave It to Beaver, is the quintessential 1950s housewife and the archetypal suburban parent.[16]
  • Clair Huxtable (The Cosby Show), in addition to Angela Bower (Who’s the Boss) and Murphy Brown (Murphy Brown), helped introduce the high-powered professional mother to television in the late 1980s and early 1990s.[16]
  • Roseanne Conner in the hit TV series Roseanne (1988–1997) was considered an “anti-hero” mom. She was underpaid, barely able to control her children, and overweight. The show was notable because it portrayed a mother who led the household and whose likability did not rely on her appearance.[16]
  • In developing countries, complications during pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of disability and death among women. Over 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries.[11]
  • Approximately 800 women die each day from pregnancy-related causes during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum around the world. Of the 287,000 annual deaths that occur in developing countries, 56% occur in Sub-Sahara Africa, with another 29% in South Asia.[17]
  • In Chad, 1 in 15 women will die of maternal causes. In Greece, 1 in 25,500 women will die of maternal causes.[13]
  • Currently in the United States, about 15 women die in pregnancy or childbirth per 100,000 live births
  • Although the U.S. spends more money than any other country on health care as well as on maternal care, it is more dangerous to give birth in the U.S. than in 49 other countries, including Kuwait, Bulgaria, and South Korea.[13]
  • African American women are almost 4 times more likely to die during childbirth than Caucasian women.[13]
  • There are several instances throughout history where children turned on their mothers. For example, Cleopatra III of Egypt was assassinated by order of her son Ptolemy X. Nero is said to have his mother murdered as well.[20]
  • The youngest mother in recorded history is Lina Medina. She was just 5 years and 7 months old when she gave birth to a 6.5 lb. boy by caesarean section in Peru in 1939.[6]
  • The oldest mother in modern history to give birth is Rajo Devi Lohan from India. She was 70 years old in 2008 when she gave birth to a baby girl following a controversial IVF treatment.[5]
  • Bobbie McCaughey from Iowa gave birth to the most surviving children from a single birth. In 1997, she had the first surviving set of septuplets (4 boys and 3 girls).[6]
  • There are an estimated 85.4 million mothers in the United States.[8]
  • The shortest interval between two births is 208 days, or 6½ months. Jayne Bleackley gave birth to a son on September 3, 1999. She later gave birth to a daughter on March 30, 2000.[6]
  • There are about 2 billion moms in the world.[15]
  • Out of the 2 billion mothers in the world, yours is the best
  • According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend about $162.94 on their mom on Mother’s Day. After Christmas, Mother’s Day is the second most popular holiday for giving gifts.[10]
  • More flowers are purchased on Mother’s Day than on any other holiday except for Christmas/Hanukkah. Mother’s day makes up ¼ of all holiday sales of flowers and plants.[10]
  • There are about 122.5 million phone calls on Mother’s Day, making it one of the busiest phone days of the year.[5]
  • The average age of new moms in the U.S today is 25 years old versus 21 years old in 1970.[18]
  • Modern moms in the U.S. have an average of 2 kids. In the 1950s, they had an average of 3.5 kids. In the 1700s, they had 7–10 kids.[18]
  • On average, moms take 2 minutes 5 seconds to change a diaper, which is equivalent to about three 40-hour work weeks each year. Fathers take an average of 1 minute 36 seconds.[5]
  • It may be possible to gild pure gold, but who can make his mother more beautiful?

    - Mahatam Ghandi

  • Mothers do about 88% of laundry in the U.S. This equals 330 loads of laundry and 5,300 articles of clothing per year. The least favorite job for moms is vacuuming the stairs.[5]
  • The mom with the most kids is Mrs. Feodor Vassilyev of Russia. She gave birth to 69 children between 1725 and 1765.[6]
  • The mother who gave birth to the heaviest baby was Carmelina Fedele of Italy in 1955. Her newborn weighed 22 pounds 8 oz.[5]
  • The first Mother’s Day was on May 10, 1908, and was founded by Anna Jarvis (1864–1948). Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday in 1914. Jarvis would later lament the commercialization of the holiday and sought to remove it from the calendar. Mother’s Day in the U.S. falls on the second Sunday in May.[14]
  • The word for “mom” is “mama” in Mandarin Chinese, “mamma” in Iceland, “em” in Hebrew, and “me” in Vietnamese. Because one of the first utterances babies make is a “ma” sound, most languages around the world have that sound as the basis for their word for “mother.”[12]
  • Historically, many mothers in Latin America shared a belief in an “evil eye,” or the power of an evil person to harm a pregnant woman and her child. New mothers will often dress their new babies in red because red is thought to ward off the evil eye.[8]
  • They may look cute, but hamsters are notorious baby eaters
  • While mother hamsters are cute and furry, they are infamous baby eaters. Indeed, first-time hamster moms may eat their babies if they feel threatened by them, if their babies are undersized or abnormal, or if they feel like they need extra nutrients after giving birth.[3]
  • The ancient Greeks would hold celebrations in honor of mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele in an earlier precursor to Mother’s Day.[18]
  • Scientists believe that the hormones that flood the brain during pregnancy can lead to permanent alterations in mothers, similar to the way teenage hormones contribute to adolescent brain development.[18]
  • Even though motherhood is becoming less popular, a majority of women still become mothers. Modern moms are more likely to be more educated, single, and older.[1]
  • Demographers estimate that half of all children will live with a single mom at some point before the age of 18. African American children are about twice a likely as the national average to live with an unmarried mother.[2]
  • While new moms turn to modern physicians for help giving birth, ancient women would turn to goddesses. Ancient deities associated with childbirth include Eileithyia, the Greek goddess of labor pains; Frigg, the Norse goddess who watched over married and laboring women; and the ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor, a cow-headed goddess associated with childbirth and motherhood.[18]
  • During pregnancy, moms and children exchange cells through their connection with the placenta. These cells can persist in the mother’s body for years.[18]
  • An early precedent of Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday,” in which the faithful would return to their mother church. Eventually, the tradition became more secular, and children would present their mothers with gifts and flowers in appreciation.[7]
  • In Thailand, Mother’s Day is celebrated in August on the birthday of the current queen, Sirikit. A type of Mother’s Day is celebrated in Ethiopia in the fall when families gather for several days to sing songs, feast, and celebrate in honor of motherhood.[12]
  • The day after Mother's Day is a boon for online cheating sites
  • On the day after Mother’s Day, there is a dramatic increase in mothers signing up on cheating websites, such as Ashley Madison. Unmet expectations from Mother’s Day may be the reason for the surge.[4]
  • There are about 152 million Mother’s Day cards sent every year.[15]
  • Wearing a colored carnation on Mother’s Day indicates that a person’s mother is living. A white carnation means that a person’s mother is dead.[1]
  • In 1872, Julia Ward Howe—a pacifist, suffragette, and the author of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”—was the first to suggest Mother’s Day in the U.S. She hoped mothers could rally together to promote peace after the Civil War.[7]
  • The month when the most babies are born in the U.S. is August, and the day when most are born is Tuesday.[5]
  • In Utah and Alaska, women on average will have three children. The average in the U.S. is 2 kids.[5]
  • The U.S. National Restaurant Association reports that Mother’s Day is the year’s most popular holiday for eating out.[5]
  • Approximately 1.2% of all children live with a stepmother in the United States.[19]
  • Mothers around the world face different challenges, but some common global concerns include guilt over not spending enough times with kids, feeling overwhelmed, and frustration at being the “default parent.”[22]
  • “Breast Warmers” are popular among mothers in Sweden. Described as a cross between a baby elephant’s ear and a 1980s shoulder pad, these pads are stuffed into a bra to keep a new mother’s breasts warm. Swedes believe this will help increase milk flow and prevent blocked ducts.[5]
  • Women who had their last child after the age of 33 had twice the odds of living to the age of 95
  • According to several studies, mothers who give birth later in life have a better chance of living longer.[1]
  • In Canada, working moms get a yearlong leave and 55% of their salary during that first year after having a baby. Additionally, they are entitled to the same job or a comparable one when their leave is over. Fathers are also entitled to 37 weeks of parental leave. In Cuba, new moms get 6 months maternity leave with full salary.[13]
  • Some of the worst mothers in movie history include Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, Margaret White in Carrie, Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, Aunt Petunia in Harry Potter, the Queen Mother in Aliens, and Norma Bates in Psycho.[9]
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References

1 Ashworth, Trisha. I Was a Really Good Mom before I Had Kids. Vancouver: BC: Raincoast Books, 2007.

2 Badger, Emily. “The Unbelievable Rise of Single Motherhood in America over the Last 50 Years.” The Washington Post. December 18, 2014. Accessed: April 13, 2015.

3 Breyer, Melissa. “Nature’s 7 Meanest Mommies.” Mother Nature Network. April 13, 2015. Accessed: April 13, 2015.

4 Elliot, Annabel Fenwick. "Women are FOUR Times More Likely to Seek out Affairs after a Lackluster Mother's Day, According to Cheating Website." Daily Mail. May 15, 2014. Accessed: September 26, 2016.

5Fun Mothering Facts.” Happy Worker. 2015. Accessed: April 5, 2015.

6 Gopi, Chandra Kharel. “Mother’s Day 2014: 12 Fun Facts about Mothers You Didn’t Know.” International Business Times. May 9, 2014. Accessed: April 13, 2015.

7 Handwerk, Brian. “Mother’s Day Turns 100: Its Surprisingly Dark History.” National Geographic. May 9, 2014. Accessed: April 5, 2015.

8 Ingram, Mrill. “A Mom in the U.S. Wondered about Motherhood around the World. Here’s What She Found Out.” Upworthy. Accessed: April 5, 2015

9 Keating, Fiona. “Ten Worst Mothers in Movie History.International Business Times. March 30, 2014. Accessed: April 13, 2015.

10 Lobello, Carmel. “The Economics of Mother’s Day: By the Numbers.” The Week. May 8, 2013. Accessed: April 5, 2015.

11Maternal Health in the U.S.Amnesty International. 2015. Accessed: April 5, 2015.

12 Mathiessen, Connie. “Mommy, Mami, Mutter: Motherhood around the World.” BabyCenter. 2015. Accessed: April 5, 2015.

13 Morrison, Sarah. “Revealed: The Best and Worst Places to Be a Woman.” Independent UK. March 4, 2012. Accessed: April 5, 2015.

14Mother’s Day.” History. 2011. Accessed: April 5, 2015.

15Mother’s Day Statistics.” Statistic Brain. March 17, 2015. Accessed: April 5, 2015.

16 Netburn, Deborah. “A Salute to Famous Mothers.” Los Angeles Times. May 8, 2011. Accessed: April 13, 2015.

17Over 99 Percent of Maternal Deaths Occur in Developing Countries.” The World Bank. May 4, 2012. Accessed: April 5, 2015.

18 Pappas, Stephanie. “Super Women: 5 Amazing Facts about Motherhood.” Live Science. May 11, 2012. Accessed: April 5, 2015.

19Stepfamily Fact Sheet.” National Stepfamily Resource Center. 2015. Accessed: April 13, 2015.

20 Thurer, Shari L. The Myths of Motherhood: How Culture Reinvents the Good Mother. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1994.

21Top 10 Animal Moms.” Animal Planet. 2015. Accessed: April 15, 2015.

22 Weiss, Elizabeth. “Selling the Myth of the Ideal Mother.” The New Yorker. May 8, 2014. Accessed: April 13, 2015.

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