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The Messy Middle of Motherhood.



I learned a new word at the start of the year that offered one of those ‘a-ha’ moments. It helped me to not only make sense of my own experiences, but to help with my teaching awareness when supporting new Mum's....


Matrescence


Was I late to the party? Why aren’t we all familiar with this?!...


We’re all familiar with adolescence, right? That pretty messy confusing time, when tweens try to muddle their way through into adulthood.


Just as adolescence brings a whole truck load of surging hormones, body morphing, identity, social, phycological and relationship evolutions, ‘matrescence’ brings the same as a woman transitions to 'mother.


‘’…through pre-conception, pregnancy and birth, surrogacy or adoption, to the postnatal period and beyond. The exact length of matrescence is individual, recurs with each child, and may arguably last a lifetime! The scope of the changes encompass multiple domains -bio-psycho-social- political-spiritual-- and can be likened to the developmental push of adolescence.’’

Aurélie Athan, Ph.D./ www.matrescence.com


TED


In an interesting TED Talk, ‘A new way to think about the transition to motherhood’, Alexandra Sacks (a reproductive psychiatrist) explains this term was coined in 1973 in an out of print essay written by Dana Raphael, Ph.D. (1973).


Alexandra Sacks explains an emotional tug of war, or ‘push and pull’ feeling that can be felt (but perhaps not recognised or discussed in this way) through matrescence.


The 'push' might feel like a resistance to this new identity because it all feels so bloody alien, confusing and unknown. All the self-identifying parts of pre-baby life - career, hobbies, relationships, sleep, exercise, sex, social life, studies… ALL change quite dramatically overnight.


“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." ~ Osho



Then there's a ‘pull’ towards this new evolution of self as 'mother'. A new love begins to swell for this new life, and new phase of life, supported by the body's innate wisdom which boosts oxytocin (a.k.a ' the love hormone) release from skin to skin touch with baby (whether you gave birth or not) .


Bonding can take time during this messy middle as the transition into 'mother' is experienced. Bonding with baby and as a family unit, no matter what that looks like for you, is a different experience for all, so please go kindly on yourself and talk to trusted friends, family or professionals for support. *



Connection.


In yoga (which I mean meditation & breath too) with a softer, intuitive, somatic awareness, we compassionately nurture connection. AT a time when we can feel very disconnected to our experience and ourself, this is so valuable.


Connection to the present moment, to a sense of self, to awareness of ever-shifting feelings and thoughts, of our enough-ness, just as we are - and to an awareness of something greater than ourselves that we are all a part of. Whether you call that energy, spirituality, soul, the universe or other words is up to you. Whatever resonates.


It's all learning to practicing connection through listening to the body-mind, and responding with care. Just as we learn to listen to our baby /child / teen with sensitivity and non-judgement, and respond with care. And when we get lost in our own reactivity, which is normal, that's Ok too - we can send ourselves more care, say sorry, let go and grow.




Small Moments Often


Small daily practices are very valuable, especially as a new mother, when time seems to disappear and longer time to practice feels out of reach. Whether 1-10 minutes, I invite you to make time to re-connect and come home to you, at any moment you can find.


  • A few gradually lengthened exhales to down-regulate the nervous system (i.e feel calmer)


  • Soften expectation. Practice ‘aparagraha’ - or non-grasping onto ‘should be’s’ or expectations. Both on your yoga mat / living room floor, and in life. ‘Good enough’ yoga, and ‘good enough’ parenting are both useful to practice for less stress, and more ease.


  • Lay Down. Pause with the sole purpose to REST. As much as possible. Listening to a Yoga Nidra will support your whole being here too.


  • Journal. A couple of useful prompts might be

1) ‘Right now I feel…..’

2) Today I will support / care/ nurture / lift-up [as you need] myself by…….’

3) Three moments of joy today have been...


  • Find community with other mothers. It takes a village. Find your village in your local community through postnatal groups and talk, share, and normalise.




I hope this is in some way useful. These words come from my personal and professional interests in our human being-ness. Yoga, which is ultimately a path of self study and awareness, has (and still does) helped me nurture my wellbeing, and my capacity to connect to patience and understanding, both for me, my family and the women I support.



If you would like to work 121 with me to connect to a yoga practice to support Motherhood, either online or in person, please contact me here.


Discover The Rested Mother Retreat - a whole weekend away in North Devon countryside, close to the coast, for mothers to rest, regulate and restore through embodied slow self care




*Seek Support


If you are struggling with perinatal mental health, please seek professional support. There is so much strength in reaching out when you need to. Here are just a few resources that might be useful to you:

  • Bluebell is a Perinatal Mental Health Charity in Bristol with a wide range of course, classes and drop in sessions to support pregnancy and new parents

  • Hearts & Minds supports parents and health professionals to find local perinatal mental health services

  • The LGBT Mummies Tribe seeks to support LGBT+ women & people globally on the path to motherhood or parenthood

  • Mind mental health charity offers information & advice around perinatal mental health

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