What is Matrescence?

What is Matrescence?
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“Birth produces 2 people. The first: a flailing soul, struggling to take in a new world, a new way of being, as it draws against the unknown.  The second: a baby.”  Bunmi Laditan

Matrescence is the process of becoming a mother.  It consists of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual changes that happen as a result of embarking on the motherhood journey.   Moms register for all of the baby gear, and attend the appointments and classes, but no one really prepares women for the very real shifts that happen with motherhood.

A period of intense transition, matrescence is much like adolescence. It is a time period of hormonal changes and identity shifts. The pace can be unpredictable and it can be an exhilarating (and confusing) time.  

However, the adolescent time period is something that families prepare for, and ultimately, it is a time period that ends. The evolution of identity as a mother is an ongoing process. It is always changing, as our children develop and grow. An infant and a teen do not need the same “mother” because they have different needs. A mother must have the flexibility to respond to what each developmental stage requires.

Throughout each of the stages, a mother needs to assess and adapt. The process can be confusing and can result in self doubt regarding one’s role as a mom. A mother’s identity is based in 4 core areas of life: her concept of self, her own health, her relationships, and her environment. If a woman is not supported in all of these areas, it can negatively impact her maternal identity.  No mom should have to navigate this alone.

Mothers need support, individually and collectively.  Yet, moms often resist asking for help (or feel unsure about what they actually need!)  Reaching out to a therapist who specializes in perinatal/maternal mental health can be an important component in ensuring a positive transition to motherhood, and throughout the stages of parenting.  Support groups focused on maternal identity can also help create a sense of community and validation.

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