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Matrescence is a term every new parent should know. And yes, we mean dads too

If you’ve just become a new mum and feel like everything you thought you knew about your life no longer makes any sense, be assured that it’s not all in your head. Giving birth is a life-changing experience, which can trigger a huge and profound transformation. And there’s even a term for it: matrescence. Here’s what it means and why it’s important for both new mums and dads to know about…

What is matrescence?

Coined by anthropologist Dana Raphael in the 1970s, matrescence refers to the physical, emotional, and psychological changes that accompany the transition to motherhood, much like adolescence describes the transition to adulthood. In short, matrescence is the process of becoming a mother.

What does it involve?

If you cast your mind back to your teenage years, you might remember it as a time of significant change, growing, questioning and trying to figure out who you are .Well, matrescence is very similar time, except it happens in a much shorter time frame and therefore can feel really confusing. Some women have even described it as like a “bomb going off” in their lives.

What changes might happen?

Here are a few of the changes that might have you questioning many things about your life:

  1. Physical Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, weight gain, and physical recovery post-birth are just a few of the challenges new mums face. Even trying to figure out your postpartum style can be a whole new headache in your life when your pre-baby wardrobe no longer fits.
  2. Emotional Adjustments: The emotional landscape of motherhood is complex. It’s totally normal to experience a range of emotions, from joy and love to anxiety and overwhelm. The hormonal shifts postpartum can be wild and contribute to difficult mood swings.
  3. Identity Shifts: Becoming a mother can totally flip your sense of who you are. You might experience a shift in identity as you try and merge the old new with the new version of you as a mum. Not being able to keep up with hobbies, friends and your “old” life can also trigger feelings of grief, resentment and anger.
  4. Social Changes: Relationships with partners, family, and friends often change with the arrival of a baby. You may find yourself needing more support and may have to renegotiate boundaries and roles within your social circles.

Why is matrescence important?

You’ve just given birth and now you’re responsible for another human. There is so often an idea that you’ll just go back to the previous version of yourself. However, like many news mums find, the life-changing experience of birth makes you question everything about your life, work and identity.

So much so, that you might find many aspects of your old life don’t really fit you anymore. Understanding the importance of matrescence and what you are experiencing is crucial to having a better postpartum experience and better relationships with those around you.

While every woman’s experience of matrescence is unique, there are some strategies that can help navigate this period:

  1. Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to reach out for help from family, friends, or professionals. Joining a new mums’ group can provide a sense of community and shared experience.
  2. Self-Care: Make time for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s essential for your well-being.
  3. Communicate: Talk about your feelings and experiences with your partner or close friends. Open communication can help alleviate feelings of isolation and stress.
  4. Educate Yourself: Learning about what to expect during this transition can help you feel more prepared and less overwhelmed.

How long does matrescence last?

You’ll probably be unsurprised to learn that matrescence doesn’t have a set timeframe because you’re constantly changing and evolving through motherhood. However, some of the biggest changes will take place in the very early stages of postpartum. This is because of the huge hormonal and physical shifts that are going on in your body.

The early weeks and months of motherhood involve so many huge changes so try not to make big life decisions in this chaotic, sleep-deprived time. Instead, try and ride the waves a bit and do little things each day to bring you back to you.


Matrescence is a profound journey that deserves recognition, support and understanding. Don’t ignore your feelings or think you’re alone. Becoming a mum is probably one of the biggest life events you’ll ever experience so give yourself time, space and grace as you navigate this new stage of life.

Birthbabe does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. the resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. you should always consult with a healthcare professional regarding any medical diagnoses or treatment options

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