Pragya Agarwal on shame, surrogacy and the many faces of motherhood

This week’s guest is the behavioural and data scientist, Dr Pragya Agarwal. A passionate campaigner for gender and race equality, Pragya is the author of the much-praised Sway, about unravelling unconscious bias, and the host of of the podcast, Wish We Knew What to Say: talking with children about race. 


Pragya is also - and I tell you this only because it’s relevant to today’s conversation - the mother of three daughters, the first is now in her early twenties, her twins, now aged five. It’s that journey - from one sort of mother to another that led to her new book, (M)Otherhood: a moving (and rigorous!) personal exploration into what it means to be (or not be) a mother when you don’t fit society’s mould.


Over the next 45 minutes Pragya blows my mind with her braininess about everything from the myth of choice and learning to embrace ambivalence, body image, being a good girl, how motherhood changed her relationship with her own mother and why she wished she was her father’s son.


A self-confessed worrier, she also talks candidly about how brown women are invisible when it comes to fertility, premature menopause and her ultimate decision to pursue surrogacy.


CONTENT WARNING: there is some discussion of infertility


You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at Bookshop.org, including the book that accompanies this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too by Sam Baker and (M)Otherhood by Pragya Agarwal.


The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Emily Sandford. I'd love to hear what you think - please rate and review, or let me know on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.


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