Mother with her child (Sculpture)
A mother is typically the biological or social female parent of a child or offspring while the male parent is the father. The maternal bond describes the feelings the mother has for her (or another's) child.
In the case of a mammal such as a human, the mother gestates her child (called first an embryo, then a fetus) in the womb from conception until the fetus is sufficiently well-developed to be born. The mother then goes into labour and gives birth. Once the child is born, the mother's breasts produce milk to feed the child.
In non-sexual organisms, "mother" can sometimes be used to mean "parent"; in the case of single-celled organisms that reproduce by fission, the mother is a cell that divides to produce "daughters".
Mothers typically have a very important role in raising children, and the title mother can be given to a woman other than a biological parent who fills this role. This is most commonly either an adoptive parent or a stepmother (the wife of a child's father). The term can also refer to a person with stereotypical traits of a mother.
Mothers are celebrated on a yearly holiday, the Mother's Day, around the world. In many branches of Christianity, the Virgin Mary is also celebrated as the Mother of God.
Mom, mommy, mama, ma, mummy, and mum are some familiar or colloquial words for a mother. Many times these terms denote affection or a maternal role in a child's life: "anyone can be a mother, but it takes someone special to be a Mum". As such, someone can be a mother and not a mum, or a mum and not a mother.
In contemporary society, single motherhood, the state of an unmarried mother, has become a serious social issue.
The term "mother" is also used in the following contexts: