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Navigating “Matrescence”: A Journey of Transformation

Navigating “Matrescence” A Journey of Transformation
Navigating “Matrescence”

Matrescence, a term coined by anthropologist Dana Raphael in the 1970s, refers to the process of becoming a mother and the profound psychological and emotional changes that accompany it. Often overshadowed by the more widely recognized concept of adolescence, matrescence is a crucial period in a woman’s life that deserves attention and understanding. In this blog post by Therapy for Moms, we will explore matrescence and draw parallels with adolescence, highlighting the unique ways in which a woman undergoes significant transformations during this pivotal time.

The Journey of Matrescence

The Journey of Matrescence in 6 Steps:

Similar to adolescence, matrescence is a period of profound change, but instead of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, a woman experiences a shift from womanhood to motherhood. This journey involves physical, emotional, and psychological transformations, as well as the integration of a new identity – that of a mother.

1. Physical Changes

During matrescence, a woman undergoes a myriad of physical changes, much like the hormonal shifts that occur during adolescence. Pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery bring about not only changes in body shape but also alterations in hormonal levels, impacting mood, energy levels, and overall well-being.

2. Identity Shift

Adolescents grapple with questions of identity as they seek to define themselves apart from their parents. Similarly, matrescence involves a profound identity shift as a woman moves from being an individual to becoming a mother. This transition can be both exhilarating and challenging, as she navigates the complexities of merging her pre-motherhood identity with this new role.

3. Emotional Rollercoaster

Adolescents are often characterized by their emotional intensity, and mothers in the midst of matrescence can relate to this rollercoaster of feelings. From the joy and wonder of welcoming a new life to the challenges and uncertainties of parenthood, the emotional landscape during matrescence is diverse and intense.

4. Social and Relationship Changes

Adolescents establish independence and form new relationships outside the family unit. Similarly, matrescence brings about changes in a woman’s social life and relationships. Friendships may evolve as priorities shift, and the dynamics with a partner may undergo adjustments as they navigate parenthood together.

5. Self-Discovery

Adolescence is a time of self-discovery, and matrescence is no different. While navigating the demands of motherhood, a woman may uncover new facets of herself, exploring strengths, vulnerabilities, and capabilities she might not have known existed.

6. Navigating Uncertainty

Both adolescence and matrescence are marked by a sense of uncertainty and a journey into the unknown. Mothers, like adolescents, are often figuring things out as they go along, learning to adapt to the ever-changing demands of parenthood.


In acknowledging and understanding matrescence, society can better support women as they navigate the profound changes that come with motherhood. By drawing parallels to adolescence, we can appreciate the commonalities in the transformative processes of these life stages. Matrescence is a unique journey that deserves recognition and validation, contributing to the collective narrative of women’s experiences and fostering a more empathetic and supportive society.

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