In my last post I shared a little bit about my own experience becoming a Mother and the challenges and emotions that come with the territory of this all-encompassing life change. I mentioned how through the pregnancy and postpartum phase we go through an 'awkward' stage which Alexandra Sacks refers to as the 'adolescence' of parenthood. This period consists of a Mothers body physically changing; her hormones surging; navigating new life roles; figuring out shifts in relationships and all the emotions that come with this transition. If you missed the post you can read it here. Today I want to share a little bit more about how you can support yourself through this period. I will share some insights as well as relevant resources.
How can you support yourself better?
So let's talk support and what types of support are important during this period.
Crafting your 'village'
You've heard the phrase 'it takes a village to raise a child' but what you may not have heard is that, in this day and age, you are responsible for crafting your 'village'. This means that during your pregnancy, and anytime thereafter, you need to start thinking about the people who can hold you and support you through this time. We refer to this as your 'support system' which would include every possible person who lends support in whichever capacity: from your mother-in-law, to your midwife, to your neighbor or friend. So think about all the role players in your village, what you might need from each of them and how you can ask to receive that. Remember that a village includes every single support person not only the obvious role players. You will find you will need different forms of support during your pregnancy to post birth, when baby is earth side.
A lot of the support offered post-birth is often very baby focused so it's important that you also consider the ways in which YOU need support. You might wish to break down your village into groups: support professionals (your medical team, your therapist, doula, midwife, coach, psychiatrist, etc); cheerleaders (friends, family and those wanting to share your experience); in-home support (your partner if you have one, nanny, night nurse, live-in friend of family member); physical support (physiotherapist; massage therapist; reflexologist; yoga teacher; etc) and emotional support (therapist; support group; support resources, etc). Some people or forms of support may fall into more than one category but it can help to break it down so that you are aware of your needs and who can help you along your way.
Become emotionally aware
Often we are easily triggered during this season (this is normal) and the reason this occurs is because each trigger is making us aware of our own feelings. Sometimes this might mean a past childhood wound of our own is being triggered within us or sometimes it might simply make us aware of our needs which possibly are not being met. Needs such as: sleep, adequate nutrition, down time and exercise. In order to feel less triggered and more at ease, one needs to pay attention to ones feelings and ask oneself what is needed in that moment of being triggered and furthermore, what is needed thereafter? How can you support yourself better or what do you need to sit with and process when you get a quiet moment? It is important to be mindful and observe what triggers you; notice what feelings arise and ask yourself what they are trying to communicate, without judgement of yourself.
Find a good therapist
Not only does Motherhood bring up a lot of new things to navigate but it also brings up all the past demons that may have been stored away for quite sometime. There is something about new life that makes us go inward and reflect on our own childhood and upbringing. This can we both beautiful and painful to revisit. Having a trained professional who is objective and can support you to find your own ways of healing, without any judgement can be a really powerful form of support during this period.
Matrescence challenges us to be self-reflective and heal our own emotional wounds so that we are able to show up for our children in the way that they need it. It can be helpful to work with someone who is skilled in facilitating inner child work so that you may feel held in working through your own childhood wounds.
Learn how to ask for help and be open to receiving
This can be a difficult one if you are used to relying on yourself and not reaching out to others but this period of your life really requires outside support. One simply cannot do it all alone and this becomes very apparent in those first few weeks after baby is born. Asking for help does not indicate weakness but rather it reflects wisdom of knowing ones needs and it takes courage during a stage of vulnerability.
Empower yourself with resources
I want to share some of the resources that I have personally found beneficial that some very dear friends and colleagues have kindly shared with me during this period. I hope they can help support you on your journey as well.
Holding Mama / A beautifully crafted book and journal written by Caitlin Scott and Caryn Edwards, which covers everything from pregnancy right through to Postpartum: https://holdingmama.co.za/
The Birth of the Mother / A guided journal resource by Sharmon Reddington which provides well thought out journal prompts to support your journaling process: https://www.mumwell.com/product-page/the-birth-of-the-mother
Morning Pages Journal / An open-ended journal by Sara Moosa, with prompts, musings and even some linked guided meditations: https://healgrowflow.my.canva.site/
Motherhood Sessions / A podcast by Alexandra Sacks which gives insight into real life conversations between Alexandra and contributing Mothers who talk about the shifts of Matrescence and their personal experiences: https://open.spotify.com/show/3ltqdX9Em1RtnJNqR3UxrS?si=38039fc990cc4127
My last and final post in this series on Matrescence will cover the postpartum period and how to make peace with the transition of becoming a Mom. Keep an eye out for updates. As always I would love to hear your feedback and your experience on this topic.