Mama" was written by the Spice Girls with songwriting partners Matt Rowe and Richard Stannard. In an interview about the writing process between the group and the duo, Rowe credits Melanie Brown as the one who came up with the song's concept. Brown explained the song's inspiration in the book Real Life: Real Spice The Official Story:
"We wrote 'Mama' when I was going through a bad phase with my mum. The sentiments are really that your mum's probably the best friend that you've got. Whether she's an over-protective mother or a bit of a landmine, she probably knows you better than yourself in some ways."
"Mama's all about how you're such a cow to your mum when you're going through that rebellious teenage stage. Then when you get a bit older, you realise that whatever she was doing, she was only doing it for your own good. And you think: 'God, I was really horrible.' "