Matrescence is a normal life passage. And, matrescense is also one of life's most intense life experiences. Matrescence compasses the physical, emotional and psychological growth of a woman as she integrates the experience of becoming a mother. Her identity changes, her body changes, her life focus changes.
This life passage is inclusive of all who do the work of mothering: adoptive mothers, step mothers, transgender mothers, dads who mother.
If you think about adolescence and how much a person grows during adolescence, how the sense of self grow and changes. Well, reproductive psychiatrists say that matrescence is a life passage with identity shifts similar to the seismic upheavals of adolescence.
There's alot written about pregnancy, birth and postpartum depression. And, without a word to describe the concept, there isn't much description of the normal lived experience, the normal growth, experienced by a woman as she learns how to care for a newborn, how to integrate her new responsibilities into her self concept. And this growth and identity change extends for years, as parents continually grow and change in response to the growing child's needs.
I want to add matrescence to our everyday lexicon. By adding the concept of matrescence to our everyday lexicon, it gives us all the opportunity to explain, expand and normalize what new mothers feel. Naming and defining the transition to motherhood gives us greater insight into the emotions of new parents. Knowing that it's normal to feel overwhelmed by parenting a newborn can help allay feelings of inadequacy, and allow room for growth as a person and as a parent.
Normal mood swings and normal emotional struggles are not unusual in the transition to motherhood. This is different and apart from a postpartum depression, which we should be careful to look out for. The warning signs of postpartum depression are outlined here.
Sacks, A, (2017). The birth of a mother. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/well/family/the-birth-of-a-mother.html
Bastidas, G., (2022). How to navigate matrescence – the ups and downs of new motherhood. Retrieved February 27, 20023 from