What is Matresence?

2nd October 2023
What is Matresence?

When a baby is born, so is a mother. The rebirth of a woman as she transitions from maiden to mother; is how I have come to view matresence. The definition of this concept, which is not unlike adolescence, is ‘the complete transformation of a woman as she moves through motherhood: psychological, physical, spiritual, hormonal, cultural, and economical.  The term was coined by Dana Raphael in the 1970’s and then resurrected more recently by Dr. Aurelie Athan.

Just as we enter the rite of passage to become a teenager; our hormones surge, our physical appearance changes, our brain rewires and reorganises itself; similar changes occur when a woman becomes a mother. Adolescence, however, is well recognised and understood in the literature and in our culture. Matresence though, is not.

When I first became a Mum in March 2020, I felt for the first time in my life, that I had a real lack of control over my body, my sleep, and my time. I remember sometimes asking myself ‘who am I now that I am a mother?’ The huge change in identity, lack of visitors due to Covid restrictions, and the change in my intimate relationship, made for feelings of loneliness and isolation at times. I do feel very blessed and grateful to have had a settled baby where I feel the transition ….., however, my second baby and matresence really pulled the rug out from underneath me.

When I was pregnant the second time, is when I first heard the term matresence. That’s where it all changed for me. ‘Finally,’, I thought ‘there is a concept used to describe just how enormous and huge this change is for women’. Having this awareness served me well when I entered my second matresence, however, I struggled at times and found it quite challenging in looking after a newborn and a toddler. I didn’t find it twice as hard going to two children, I found it ten times as hard. I remember there were moments where I compared my babies, wished she had a more settled temperament like her older brother, and felt so guilty for even thinking this as well as the mum guilt that ensured for not having the energy and time for my toddler like I used to.

I can look back now and have so much compassion for myself, because after completing the Mama Rising Coaching Course, and speaking to so many different mothers all over the globe, from all different backgrounds, we can recognise that this is such a universal experience. With each baby is another matresence, and I think if we can acknowledge and understand this transition, to support the woman in her journey of becoming a mother, she can hopefully then feel validated, seen, heard, and valued every step of the way.