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Matrescence: On the Metamorphosis of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Motherhood

A book has recently been published in paperback that considers the concept of motherhood. Dr Jenny Hall, Midwifery Editor, MATFLIX and the Maternity and Midwifery Forum, presents the book and discusses why it may be important to read it.


A new book to consider – Matrescence: On the Metamorphosis of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Motherhood

Part of the role of a midwife is to prepare women and birthing people for the transformation to being a mother and new parent. Though the concepts have been explored across academic literature over time, it is rare to have consideration of motherhood in modern writing. This book has been drawn to our attention and thought it worth sharing with you, as it is wise to keep up-to-date with topics women may be reading. Written by Lucy Jones, a journalist and author, the hardback version has been acclaimed by others as “The best book I’ve ever read about motherhood-Jude Rogers, Observer”. 

The publishers tell us:

During pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood, women undergo a far-reaching physiological, psychological and social metamorphosis.

There is no other time in a human’s life course that entails such dramatic change-other than adolescence. And yet this life-altering transition has been sorely neglected by science, medicine and philosophy. Its seismic effects go largely unrepresented across literature and the arts. Speaking about motherhood as anything other than a pastel-hued dream remains, for the most part, taboo.

In this ground-breaking, deeply personal investigation, acclaimed journalist and author Lucy Jones brings to light the emerging concept of ‘matrescence’. Drawing on new research across various fields – neuroscience and evolutionary biology; psychoanalysis and existential therapy; sociology, economics and ecology – Jones shows how the changes in the maternal mind, brain and body are far more profound, wild and enduring than we have been led to believe. She reveals the dangerous consequences of our neglect of the maternal experience and interrogates the patriarchal and capitalist systems that have created the untenable situation mothers face today.

Here is an urgent examination of the modern institution of motherhood, which seeks to unshackle all parents from oppressive social norms. 

Out of interest midwife researcher Denis Walsh referred to ‘matrescence’ as an aspect of the role of a midwife in free standing birth centres from his research. With the need to address how we can improve the postnatal care for women and their families, we need to consider the transformation to mother more carefully in the early days post-birth. Greater understanding of this concept and the literature around it will help us move forward. 

Dr Jenny Hall

Midwifery Editor

Matflix and the Midwifery Forum

May 2024

If you would like to review this or any other book or media for the Forum website please contact [email protected]