Why we need to abandon baby blues and reclaim Matrescence
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
The concept of Matrescence is mostly unknown in our society. Baby blues is what we are stuck with! Words matter, it is through language and understanding that we create and make sense of the world.
What is Baby Blues?
Baby blues is explained as sudden chemical and hormonal changes that take place in a woman's body after childbirth. The symptoms are; feeling emotional and bursting into tears for no apparent reason, feeling irritable or touchy, low mood, anxiety and relentlessness. It can appear one week postpartum and lasts up to 2 weeks.
The concept of baby blues is not only a big loss for mothers, it is potentially detrimental to their mental health. Even the term leaves women out. Ignoring the woman's experience as the centrality of the transition, reducing them to mere chemical and hormonal changes that should be dealt with within a few days postpartum.
Anything overstepping those small boundaries is viewed as postpartum depression, but there are so many factors and changes to consider and be aware of in this major life transition!
Reducing the woman's experience of the major life changes of motherhood to a chemical imbalance robs us from our agency. Implying that our complex array of feelings that unfold after giving birth are illogical and something to look out for.
Understanding and embracing ‘Matrescence’
The wonderful term Matrescence, first used by Dr. Dana Raphael, medical anthropologist and women advocate. Responsible for use of non medical care givers as birth attendants and naming them doulas. Raphael understood motherhood as a transition women step into as they learn what it means to be a mother. A process that develops as women navigate through the tremendous changes of motherhood. Welcoming and honouring a whole array of feelings that these changes awaken.
What changes happen as a new mother?
The act of giving birth can have an array of effects on the physical and emotional body, among other things. Some of these changes are:
a loss of identity/loss of old life
changes in your partnership (if you are in a relationship)
family unit reconfiguration
changes/losses in your friendships
emotional and physical repercussions
emotional changes as we reconnect with our own childhood
So when you are feeling emotional and bursting into tears you DO have MANY reasons for it, you may sometimes not be clear straight away - and that is OK.
How can we navigate these changes?
The significant life changes that accompany motherhood can be very difficult to navigate, mainly because they appear suddenly, often they overlap and unfortunately we are not prepared for them in our society. Hell yes! Women after childbirth have so many reasons to feel irritable, anxious, touchy, tearful, emotional, relentlessness, AND angry, sad, lonely, confused, plus a long etc. including lighter, positive feelings.
The risk of ignoring Matrescence can leave women isolated, feeling guilt and shame wondering whether they are suffering postnatal depression or something else as they don’t fit into the baby blues or depression diagnosis.
If you are struggling during postpartum and think you might be suffering depression get in touch with your GP.
I have a lot of experience in this area, both from a psychotherapist point of view but also as a new mum myself. I’ve navigated these waters and can help throw you a lifeline when you’re feeling lost and unsure of what to expect or how to figure out your new world. Let’s chat! I offer a free consultation call to all new contacts...you don’t have to suffer this alone.
Here are some links and useful organisations
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