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Beyond the Birth Plan: Top Tips for a Postpartum Plan through Matrescence

07 Jun, 2024

Welcoming a new baby is a profound and transformative experience, one that comes with significant life changes. While most expectant parents invest significant time and energy into creating a comprehensive birth plan, there is a crucial aspect of this journey that frequently gets overlooked: the postpartum period. This period lasts well beyond the fourth trimester and is characterized by intense physical, emotional, and psychological changes which is where the concept of "matrescence" comes into play.

Understanding Matrescence: The Birth of a Parent

Coined by anthropologist Dana Raphael in the 1970s, matrescence refers to the change journey of becoming a mother, akin to adolescence. Just as teenagers undergo significant changes, new parents experience a similar period of transition marked by hormonal shifts, identity transformations, and social role adjustments. Unfortunately, our society tends to romanticize motherhood, often glossing over the challenges and pressures that come with it. This gap in understanding can lead to feelings of isolation and inadequacy, exacerbating the already challenging postpartum period.

The Impact of Parenthood on Individuals

Studies have shown that new parents, particularly mothers, often experience a decline in mental health, marital satisfaction, and a sense of self. According to research by the American Psychological Association, nearly one in seven women experience postpartum depression (PPD). Additionally, the leading cause of maternal death in the first year postpartum is suicide, often driven by the overwhelming pressures and expectations of motherhood.

One significant factor contributing to these challenges is the societal subscription to idealized motherhood ideologies. These ideologies perpetuate unrealistic expectations, leaving new parents feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. Recognizing and preparing for these challenges is critical, which is why a postpartum plan is essential.

Top Tips for a Postpartum Plan

While a birth plan focuses on the logistics and preferences surrounding labour and delivery, a postpartum plan addresses the broader, ongoing needs of new parents. A well-thought-out postpartum plan can help mitigate the challenges associated with this period, promoting better mental health and overall well-being.

Here are three essential tips for creating an effective postpartum plan:

Prioritize Mental Health:
  • Seek Support: Join support groups or connect with other new parents to share experiences and reduce feelings of isolation. Various parent circles and programs popular in our current age. Consider therapy or counselling to navigate the emotional highs and lows of early parenthood.
  • Self-Care: Establish a routine that includes time for genuine self-care. Giving yourself space to recharge even if you need to be away from your child for a short time will make you a better parent.
Build a Support Network:
  • Enlist Help: What help can you enlist from family, friends, or professional services? Whether it's assistance with household chores, meal preparation, or childcare, having a support network can make a world of difference.
  • Set Boundaries: Communicate your needs and boundaries clearly with your support network to ensure you receive the help you need without feeling overwhelmed or intruded upon.
Plan for Practical Needs:

- Household chores: Chores that you could complete easily will become increasingly stressful to do. How can you set up a plan to support everyday practical needs like meal preps, the big increase in laundry, sleep deprivation?

- Rest and Recovery: Consider how you and your partner can schedule time to rest and recharge so you can avoid overwhelm and burnout.

Whilst a birth plan is undoubtedly important, a postpartum plan that supports you for months (or years) beyond that is crucial. If you haven’t yet built one, now’s the perfect time.

Our upcoming matrescence program is designed to support you in creating a complete matrescence plan, ensuring you feel confident and prepared in birthing yourself into parenthood. Join our waitlist here.

Written by Trina Toh, change coach supporting matrescence and proud mumma.

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