Why Matrescence Matters for All Women, Not Just Mums

Posted 25 May 2024

Did you know Matrescence matters to all women, not just mums?

Matrescence might not be a common word yet, but it holds profound significance, especially for women. Matrescence describes the transformative process of becoming a mother, encompassing physical, emotional, social, spiritual and psychological changes. However, it’s important to note this concept extends beyond mothers; it has implications for all women as they navigate their goals, dreams, values and aspirations during their maternal years, coupled with the societal/curtural  pressures, challenges and expectations of being a mother. This means all women experience Matrescence. By understanding Matrescence, we can better appreciate the monumentous transitions women undergo throughout their lives and how we can support them more deeply through this process.

Understanding Matrescence

The term Matrescence was coined by anthropologist Dana Raphael in the 1970s. It combines “mater,” meaning mother, with “-escence,” indicating the process of becoming. Much like adolescence marks the transition from childhood to adulthood, Matrescence signifies the journey from Maidenhood into motherhood. The journey from Maiden to Mother  involves profound changes across several dimensions.

Biologically, hormonal shifts occur during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery. Estrogen and progesterone levels rise significantly, preparing the body for childbirth and breastfeeding. These changes impact not only the body but also emotions and mental states.

Emotionally, Matrescence can be a complex journey. The joy of welcoming a new life is often accompanied by anxiety, uncertainty, and even sadness and grief as women goes through the relisation of the changes in her life, goals and identity. These emotional fluctuations are normal and reflect the magnitude of change occurring in a woman’s life.

Psychologically, Matrescence involves a shift in identity. Women might struggle to reconcile their new roles as mothers with their previous identities. This phase often includes reevaluating personal goals, relationships, and self-perception.

Culturally, the experience of Matrescence varies widely. Some cultures offer robust support systems for new mothers, including extended family networks and community rituals. In other cultures, women might feel isolated, lacking substantial communal or institutional support.

woman reflecting on impact of matrescence

Broader Implications of Matrescence

Matrescence is not solely about becoming a mother; it’s about identity and transformation from one life phase to another. Every woman experiences significant life transitions that involve changes in identity, emotions, and sometimes physical aspects. For example, adolescence, menopause, and major career changes all involve substantial adjustments. Recognising these shared experiences fosters empathy and support among women.

Adolescence parallels Matrescence with its rapid physical growth, hormonal changes, and development of complex social and emotional identities. Both periods involve navigating new roles and expectations from society.

Menopause is another transformative stage, bringing hormonal changes and physical adjustments. It also involves shifts in identity and social roles, similar to those experienced during Matrescence.

Career changes coupled with the societal, cultural and internal expencations and pressures of how a woman should behave during her maternal years is an example of how impactful the experience of Matrescence can be. Taking on a new job, especially one that significantly alters daily routines or professional identity, involves a period of adjustment. Women might experience excitement , anxiety and overwhelm as they balance their professional with their personal life.

Societal Impact of Matrescence

Recognising Matrescence has significant societal implications is a mission we must all be on .By bringing Matrescence to the forefront and how it can affect women in their personal and professional lives can allow us to put things in place where we can support women more deeply to thrive in the aspects of their lives they want to focus on. For example, in the workplace by understanding the transitions women experience can lead to better support systems and policies. For instance, companies might create more flexible work arrangements or provide resources for mental health support.

Workplace Policies:

Employers can offer flexible working hours or remote work options to help women balance their professional and personal lives. Providing mental health resources acknowledges the emotional challenges of significant transitions like Matrescence.

Healthcare:

Acknowledging Matrescence can lead to more holistic approaches to women’s health. Healthcare providers might offer support for mental health, physical recovery, and social adjustment during and after pregnancy, as well as during other significant life changes.

Policy Changes:

Policies informed by the concept of Matrescence might include expanded maternity leave to provide more extended support for new mothers. Policies could also support women during other life transitions, such as menopause, ensuring they have the resources and support they need.

Personal Growth and Development

Recognising Matrescence aids in personal growth and development. It encourages self-awareness, helping women understand and embrace their personal growth phases. This understanding is crucial for mental health, providing a framework to navigate life’s changes confidently.

Self-Awareness:

Understanding that transitions like Matrescence are normal parts of life allows women to approach these changes with curiosity, confidence and resilience. They can acknowledge their emotions as natural and part of their growth journey. It allows them the opportunity to consciously grieve whilst at the same time meeting this new part of self allowing for self-discovery, values alignment and new goal setting.

Mental Health:

Knowing that they are not alone in their experiences can help women feel more supported and less isolated. Developing strategies to cope with transitions, such as seeking support, practising self-care, and seeking professional help, enhances mental well-being.

Resilience and Empowerment:

Recognising their strength to navigate life changes, women can approach transitions with a sense of empowerment. Developing resilience enables them to adapt to new circumstances and bounce back from challenges.

women support group matrescence

How can we apply the concept of Matrescence in the real world?

Applying the understanding of Matrescence has several practical benefits. Educational programs can raise awareness among young women about the transitions they will face. Community support networks can provide assistance and solidarity during these times.

Educational Programs:

These can be integrated into school curricula, community organisations, healthcare providers, and workplaces, ensuring women of all ages access this important information. By providing this education early we can provide young women with the necessary education, support and preparation as they enter Matrescnece and feel better equipped for the journey ahead.

Community Support Networks:

Providing a space for women to share experiences, seek advice, and find comfort knowing they are not alone. These networks can be formal, such as professional support groups, or informal, like groups of friends.

Conclusion:

Matrescence is an important concept that helps us understand the transitions women go through in life. It’s not just about becoming a mother; it’s about recognising and supporting all the significant changes women experience. By advocating for broader awareness and support for Matrescence, we can help women navigate their lives with greater confidence and resilience. Understanding these transitions is crucial for fostering empathy, improving workplace and healthcare policies, and supporting personal growth and development.

Recognising and supporting women through Matrescence leads to a more empathetic and supportive society. By understanding that all women undergo significant life changes couples with the added challenges, pressures and expectation of motherhood, we create environments that are more inclusive and supportive. This, in turn, helps women navigate their lives with confidence, knowing they have the support and resources needed to thrive.

Need more support as your navigate Matrescence. Reach out today for a Complimentary Matrescence Discovery Session.


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