The album was licensed to be released in Germany and neighboring countries through GUN Records in January 2003 as a special extended edition with four bonus tracks. The same edition reached the UK through Sanctuary Records with a release in September 2004. The album was re-released by Roadrunner Records on September 28, 2007, with bonus live tracks.
On August 5, 2008, Mother Earth along with The Silent Force was released in the United States on Roadrunner Records.
By 1999 the band had built their own studio and had begun recording demos for the Mother Earth album there. The album itself was recorded in Studio RS29 in Waalwijk, the Netherlands. Oscar Holleman was again producer, and one of the sound engineers was Stephen van Haestregt, future drummer for the band. Sharon recalls that "I had a day for each song, which is still not very much, but you can try out things. We also did some demos before the recordings, so there you can check if you like or dislike parts of a song, and so you have more time when it comes to recording". Ayreon's Arjen Lucassen provided the guitar solo for the track "Dark Wings".
The sound of Mother Earth was a departure for the band. In a 2008 interview with Faceculture, Sharon states that Mother Earth was "a little bit older, a little bit more knowledgeable about how we wanted to sound, even then, of course you grow, so we had a better picture of how we wanted to sound. We didn't want to have the grunt vocals anymore. We felt like everyone was using that as a gimmick, and we didn't want to have it in our music anymore because of that...and also we were very much enthralled by a movie at that time, Braveheart, which was very Celtic, and that's how our album became very Celtic because we were so in love with the soundtrack of the Braveheart movie. So inspired by that, the album came out that way...I still love that album very much...it came together in a very natural way. The songs were sometimes written in a day, it did take time to work it out more, the way it sounded in the end, but it was like the ideas and the whole concepts of certain songs were written mostly in one day, the chorus and the verses."
Allmusic rated the album 4 and a half stars, the reviewer calling it "easily one of the best releases of 2001", and praising it for its "mature and confident sound" and Sharon den Adel's "elusive and intangible presence", adding "The rise of goth/prog metal seemed to reach a peak at the turn of the century, with an endless supply of bands offering their own spin on the subgenre. Only a handful of these bands seem to have anything interesting or unique to offer... With the release of Mother Earth, there was little doubt that the cream of the crop had indeed risen to the top... A landmark release that set new standards for creativity, musicianship, and taste — not just for goth/prog metal, but for any style of music."
Most songs from Mother Earth were played often between the album's release in 2000 and the start of The Silent Force Tour in 2004. After this, only Mother Earth, Ice Queen and Deceiver of Fools were played often, but some songs were still played on select dates.
In 2005, Our Farewell, Caged and The Promise were still being played on The Silent Force Tour, but by the end of the tour, Our Farewell was removed from the setlist. When The Heart of Everything World Tour started in 2007, only Mother Earth, Ice Queen and Deceiver of Fools were being played.
In 2008, at the end of The Heart of Everything World Tour, The Promise was played again often. Caged, Never-Ending Story and Dark Wings were also played at select dates, mainly in South America. Caged was also played at all shows of the band's Netherlands Theater Tour in 2008 and 2010.
During The Unforgiving Tour, only Mother Earth and Ice Queen were played often, with Deceiver of Fools only being played at about half of the shows, being replaced by See Who I Am from The Silent Force on the rest. During the Sanctuary Theater Tour in 2012, Mother Earth, Ice Queen, Our Farewell, Caged, The Promise and Never-Ending Story were all played.
Jane Doe, a B-Side from the album (later appearing on a reissue of The Silent Force) was played often between 2003 and 2004, and played at select shows between 2005 and 2007. It was also played at the band's Fanclub Day in 2010. Another B-Side, Bittersweet was played during the Sanctuary Theater Tour in 2012.