What is Matrescence and why it’s important for all women to know
I know for me, the term Matrescence entered my world when I was already 5 years into motherhood. It was a term, that once I understood, gave me so much insight, confirmation and relief that what I had been experiencing in my own motherhood journey was actually so common and somewhat normal.
For those that don’t know, Matrescence was first recognised in the 1970’s by Dana Raphael and encompasses every aspect of a mother’s identity, her physical self and her reality. It touches every aspect of our life (consciously or unconsciously). According to the Cambridge Dictionary, matrescence is ‘the process of becoming a mother’. Where a woman experiences physical, psychological, emotional & spiritual changes after the birth of a baby. Regardless of the duration of pregnancy, a woman will still journey through matrescence.
Matrescence can be similarly related to adolescence, where we journey through a significant period of change in our lives, unraveling, exploring and questioning who we are now. Although unlike adolescence, where it has a completion, matrescence can be said to last a lifetime. Like adolescence, things can feel uncoordinated, messy and often times grieving our old self. But on the other hand, relishing in awe of loving a tiny human more than you knew possible. It is a conflict of emotions that have us often feeling the good, bad and ugly all in the same breath.
I feel that matrescence is important for all women to understand as it’ s an opportunity to understand how, what and why we experience the thoughts, feelings and emotions we do, when we enter into motherhood. Understanding matrescence allows a woman to see that the shifts, changes and undulations that she is experiencing in motherhood aren’t just ‘all in her head’. It gives a mother the recognition of the enormity of change (often unexpected) that occurs as she enters into motherhood.
I know for me, my sense of self and identity shifted completely. I questioned ‘who am I now’, since becoming a mother. Despite vowing that I would not ‘loose myself’ when I entered into motherhood. Every part of me, felt like I was walking into new territory. It unraveled and expanded me beyond any preconception and often took me to my knees. As my own matrescence journey unfolded I could see the shifts and changes happening within me, especially emotionally & spiritually. Which has opened me to have a deeper understanding about who I am at my soul level and giving myself permission to explore that on a deeper level.
Having an understanding about matrescence, gives women a word that they can use to encompass the significant shifts and changes we experience, along with a deeper understanding of the transformative aspect for the woman too. To be able to lead and reassure a mother that it is okay to not put motherhood first all the time and take time to prioritise their own needs too. Because you matter and often we as mums are the glue that holds everything together.
By sharing and talking about matrescence and the journey that you’re experiencing with other mothers, begins to normalise this transition process and gives us space to explore who we are now, since becoming a mother. Along with expressing the ‘realness’ of motherhood and the challenges we face, the emotions we feel and the experiences that
some days take us to our knees. Because when we start to share authentically, we can reduce the pressure of feeling as though we need to ‘have it all together’ all the time. We can loose the super mum cape and start to be honoured for the season we’re in and be supported by other mums, who are in the same realm as you.
So to all the mama’s out there, take a moment to honour where you’re at and give yourself some kindness and grace. Because you’re all going through this transformative journey, which I know can feel overwhelming some days. So take it one step at a time and release the pressure that you put on yourself. You’re doing an amazing job. If you need any support or guidance through the messy parts that motherhood is throwing you right now, do reach out. As you can probably see, I am truly passionate about supporting mothers in understanding your unique matrescence journey and your transition through motherhood.
Written by Kirstie Maddocks
Midwife, Motherhood Mentor, Space Holder and Healer.