How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction

How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction

by Robert Martin
How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction

How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction

by Robert Martin


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Despite the widespread belief that natural is better when it comes to sex, pregnancy, and parenting, most of us have no idea what "natural" really means; the origins of our reproductive lives remain a mystery. Why are a quarter of a billion sperm cells needed to fertilize one egg? Are women really fertile for only a few days each month? How long should babies be breast-fed?

In How We Do It, primatologist Robert Martin draws on forty years of research to locate the roots of everything from our sex cells to the way we care for newborns. He examines the procreative history of humans as well as that of our primate kin to reveal what's really natural when it comes to making and raising babies, and distinguish which behaviors we ought to continue -- and which we should not. Although it's not realistic to raise our children like our ancestors did, Martin's investigation reveals surprising consequences of -- and suggests ways to improve upon -- the way we do things now. For instance, he explains why choosing a midwife rather than an obstetrician may have a greater impact than we think on our birthing experience, examines the advantages of breast-feeding for both mothers and babies, and suggests why babies may be ready for toilet training far earlier than is commonly practiced.

How We Do It offers much-needed context for our reproductive and child-rearing practices, and shows that once we understand our evolutionary past, we can consider what worked, what didn't't, and what it all means for the future of our species.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465030156
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 06/11/2013
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Robert Martin is the A. Watson Armour III Curator of Biological Anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago, as well as a member of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. He was previously on the faculty of University College London, a visiting professor of anthropology at Yale, a visiting professor at the Muséde l'Homme, Paris, and the director of the Anthropological Institute in Zurich.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Chapter 1 Sperms and Eggs 1

Chapter 2 Cycles and Seasons 35

Chapter 3 From Mating to Conception 55

Chapter 4 Long Pregnancies and Difficult Births 89

Chapter 5 Growing a Large Brain 121

Chapter 6 Feeding Babies: A Natural History of Breast-feeding 147

Chapter 7 Baby Care: The Broader Picture 179

Chapter 8 Monkeying with Human Reproduction 197

Acknowledgments 233

Glossary 237

References 257

Index 289

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