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Navigating Matrescence

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Matrescence: the all-encompassing physical, psychological, and emotional changes people go through on their journey to motherhood.


If you haven’t heard of it, you can be forgiven. Despite the term being coined in the 1970’s it really isn’t discussed as much as it should be (in fact even as I type I’m getting those red squiggly lines everywhere as Word doesn’t recognise it!). Matrescence is likened to adolescence. Remember in your teens when your hormones went nuts, your hair and skin don’t do what you want them to, your body changes dramatically and you have no control over any of it? Becoming a mother is the same, it’s a massive transition and can leave you not knowing who you are anymore, you have a small baby who needs you day and night, time for yourself massively diminishes and working out who you are now is not a priority. If you have trauma from the birth or suffered the indescribable loss of your baby, the combination with matrescence can be devastating.


Matrescence creates a shift in our hormones and neurochemistry, particularly with oestrogen and progesterone. On top of this you may feel a shift in your friendships, perhaps with those who are a different stage of life to you with different priorities. You might feel it through your work which could have been a massive part of your identity or the worries about your career or financial concerns. Your purpose in life might look different, you might start to question what kind of mum you want to be and this might mean you reflect differently on the style of parenting you received. While you might feel you’re losing control of how you look and feel, there are societal expectations; you should feel happy and take to parenting naturally; you should welcome visitors with open arms; you should let everyone hold your baby. And when we feel we can’t match those expectation we often feel like we’re failing.



Firstly, whatever is going on for you, know you are not alone in this. Mums everywhere, though unique in their journey, are feeling similar about this shift. Here are some thing you can do to ease yourself through it.


Plan your support

Whether you’re currently pregnant or already have your baby, work out who are the people you feel you can lean on. As part of this consider the following:

  • Who can you turn to for emotional support. Someone who will simply listen and be there for you.

  • Who might be available to look after your little one. It might be for 20 minutes while you take a shower and get dressed, it could be so you can attend your 6 – 8 week GP check so you can have your full focus on yourself, it could be some one to help you through those evenings when your baby is cluster feeding and you don’t seem to be able to eat yourself.

  • If you have a partner, who could you meet up with when they return to work?

  • Baby groups, whilst some people might find the thought hideous, can be places you make life long friends with people going through similar stages of parenthood at the same time. Yes, there will be talk about baby poo but there can also be talk about how you’re feeling, an awareness that you’re not alone and potential people who could help you out in ways you might not even know you need.


Shift your expectations

Parenthood is an insane journey and although the likes of Instagram might make everything look dreamy, reality is different. You might not do the washing up for days, your hair might be a mess because you struggle to fit in time/energy to wash it, you probably have spit up on your shoulder and if you’re breastfeeding you might feel sore and tender.

Focus on you and baby and take your time to learn a new routine (even if a routine feels a long way off!). The house does not matter, what you look like, though difficult to be content with sometimes, doesn’t matter either.


Reconnect with your body when you’re ready

And I mean when you’re ready. Everyone is different. Your post pregnancy body with feel different, it might not feel like yours. Some people will be up and running around in no time, other will take longer. No matter the type of birth you had, everyone is different and this is so important to remember.

If you’re struggling, take your time. Stretch and walk, simply take the time to work out what your body can do. Postnatal pilates is wonderous and can help you with your pelvic floor and diastasis recti as well as building your confidence. And of course it’s another chance to meet others going through similar things to yourself.

A women’s health physio could also be useful if something isn’t feeling right or you feel you need checking out. Many provide full ‘Mummy MOTs’ and can give advice and help you find that connection with your body again.



Re-centre your mind

Life will look different now, (and that’s the same whether it’s your first, second or third baby!) and your mind might take some time to catch up. You might not manage the same things you did before. Consider writing a journal, giving yourself just 5 minutes to consider:

  • ‘what do I need right now?’

  • ‘what went well today?’

  • ‘what did I need help with today?’

Try to counter act any negative self-talk by looking for the positives. This is your brain re-wiring, your new expectations being built and it’s important to be kind to yourself.


You will find yourself again! It might be helpful to reframe motherhood as an evolution, you’re re-learning what works, what your priorities are, what it’s like to slow down. You might find yourself naturally pushing back from this, and that’s ok. Listen to yourself and listen to what you need.


Get in touch

Is there something else that helped you navigate through those early stages of motherhood? I’d love to hear from you! Or if you’re struggling and would like to explore whether therapy could help, just get in touch.


You can contact Claire at clairejuddtherapy@gmail.com.

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