We tend not to think of this during pregnancy, but it is something that when given some thought and preparation can help the postpartum transition to motherhood.
Matrescence is a term which describes a developmental transition that is hormonal, physical and emotional, which was coined in the 1970s by medical anthropologist Dana Raphael. Alexandra Sacks, M.D. is a leading clinical expert on matrescence and has brought this term to the public domain in recent years. The transition isn’t only experienced the first time you have a baby, but will be experienced differently each time you have a new baby, whether it’s your first or your fifth.
The term matrescence is a blend of motherhood and adolescence. Similar transitions happen during both of these times in your life, and being pregnant can feel a lot like puberty at times. The reason we need to talk about matrescence, is that there is a lack of understanding of this period. Mothers are expected, and expect of themselves, to be happy while dealing with the lack of control over how they look and feel. This can be overwhelming. Becoming a mother is one of the most significant changes both physically and psychologically a woman will ever experience. Giving birth to your new identity, as explained by psychiatrist Daniel Stern, can be as demanding as giving birth to your baby. It makes sense therefore, to put as much preparation into the birthing of you as a mother, as you do into the birthing of your baby.
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Issue 32 - Autumn 2019