Matrescence, a seldom heard word that names the shift into motherhood, stemming from on the word, adolescence. Funny that the metamorphosis into adolescence is socially viewed with compassion, support and a general understanding of tremendous and uncontrollable change while the same slide into motherhood is often met with high expectations of “maternal instincts” and an innate understanding of how to seamlessly take on this new role and identity.
In this episode, I speak with Clinical Psychologist, faculty member, and co-founder of the Sexuality, Women & Gender Project at Teachers College, Columbia University, Aurelie Athan, Ph.D about this massive transition in a new mother’s life. Aurelie shares her insights, some of her research, and teachings on this incredibly important and under discussed topic. This conversation is vital for a new parents and her support system.
- Aurelie’s story, how she got into the field of Clinical Psychology and matrescence.
- An explanation of the concept and origin of matrescence and how it applies to clinical health.
- Some of the biggest struggles Aurelie see as a person transitions into motherhood.
- What is helpful in the transition into motherhood.
- Are we setting women up for failure when we assume they have “innate and instinctual” knowledge once they bear a baby?
- The abrupt change of focus from pregnancy where the mother is seeing her care provider every week in the last month to the postpartum focus being on the baby and the mother does not see her care provider for up to 6 weeks- how this impacts new mothers?
- “Motherhood, a simultaneously profound and crippling experience.”
- Struggling with new identity, perfectionism, and how it impacts the child.
- The similarity of a “midlife crisis” and motherhood- is it an opportunity to find power?
- The relationship between postpartum depression and adjusting to the new identity.
- What Aurelie is up to these day!
About Aurelie Athan:
Aurélie Athan, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice and faculty member and co-founder of the Sexuality, Women & Gender Project at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her work in Reproductive Psychology advances the concept of matrescence, or the transition to motherhood, through education, theory, and practice. She understands women’s development as mothers holistically, both the potential for thriving and distress in their subjective experiences. She designed the first courses nationally in Maternal Development as well as a certificate program in Reproductive & Maternal Wellbeing and teacher training program for reproductive literacy through the Sex Education Initiative. She enjoys working with mothers directly as well as consulting with maternal care professionals. Last heard saying: “We all have a psychological relationship to our reproductive life, from menstruation to menopause and everything in between!”
Recommended Reading from Aurelie:
(https://www.westchesterfamily.com/stories/2018/5/wf-feature-motherhood-2018-5.html An article by Aurelie about the two competing cultures she believes might be driving the perfectionism in mothers.