Matrescence: Coaching During a Time of Life Transition

What is Matrescence?

(pronounced ma tres ens).

The psychological birth of a mother, similar to adolescence, involves hormonal and identity shifting.

Listen to my interview with Maureen McGrath where we discuss Matrescence
January 24, 2021

Throughout this profound identity transition, an expectant individual undergoes an average of about 13 doctors’ appointments during pregnancy, 3 urine tests, 4-5 blood tests, 4 ultrasound tests, 2-3 vaginal exams/swabs, and 2 monitor exams. That is if they are healthy, give birth before or on their EDD, and do not need further diagnostic or screening exams. Then, they will go through the childbirth experience.  An experience in which the transparent fabric of one’s routine is disturbed by pain, fear of death, and temporary loss of control.  Their body expels a new human being while they are under the care of medical caregivers – most of them practice from an “expert” position. This abundance of encounters with medical maternal healthcare providers amplifies the neglect of expectant individuals’ emotional state and mindset during this profound transformation. Not even one behavioral assessment is routinely recommended for this individual. Instead of focusing on individuals’ well-being and mental health as they transition to parenthood and prepare for the profound transformation of childbirth, maternal caregivers and researchers tend to focus on how the baby is doing.

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Why Transformational Coaching is Essential to the Vaginal Birth Initiative

As a seasoned birth support professional, I have witnessed the maternal care system implementing so many new procedures and clinical policies over the 23 years that I’ve practiced. Since 2010, new reforms in maternal care associate the quality and safety of care with the increase in vaginal birth rates and the reduction in cesarean rates. However, the origins of obstetric gynecology lead maternal care policymakers to search for new clinical reforms to resolve a problem that may have originated somewhere else. I believe that none of these reforms will be able to achieve the three major principles designing safety of care: patient- engagement, patient-centered care, and partnership among patients, their family members, and their medical caregivers. 

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Facilitating Alignment of Expectant Individuals’ Visions, Beliefs, and Actions

When doulas provide prenatal coaching sessions they can help clients be better prepared for the birth of their child and demonstrate a higher level of accountability for their childbirth experience. This is not done by means of education. Prenatal coaching goes beyond teaching and delivering evidence-based knowledge. Its purpose is to help couples discover hidden gaps, resistances, or inner conflicts, and work together as a team to resolve them.

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Transformational Postpartum Coaching: Promoting New Parents’ Self-Confidence and Well-Being

Just like prenatal coaching, transformational postpartum coaching shifts the focus from helping or informing to elevating new-parents’ performance level, self-confidence, and well-being.

Most of my writing has been dedicated to pregnancy and childbirth support. During the pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about the challenges of new parents or parents who have expanded their family recently. I want to share how transformational coaching during the parents’ postpartum period can enhance their experience.

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Revamping Labor Support with Transformational Coaching

You can learn to empower expectant individuals to perceive their own mindset and desires as the most valuable ‘data’ their providers should focus on, by doing so yourself! Learn to provide transformational birth support coaching, and you’ll get to see them conducting themselves brilliantly and with confidence throughout their birth experience, and celebrate themselves.

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Being in Support of Vs. Supporting through Childbirth; What’s the Difference?

During this long-lasting period of social distancing, I find myself struggling when I can’t physically support my birth clients. I began searching for new meaning or a pathway to the concept of providing continuous labor support’ and was reminded of two very different states that I already explored while becoming a transformational life coach: Being and Doing. I am so used to thinking about providing continuous support as an action-oriented practice, filled with hands-on engagement. But the need to practice social distancing doesn’t allow this type of support. There may be many birth support figures who feel the same, and I hope that this blog post will serve all those who serve.

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Convincing Prospective Clients that Doulas are as Valuable Now as Ever

Convincing Prospective Clients that Doulas are as Valuable Now as Ever

Doulas face a challenge: after many years of service and hard work, our value is finally recognized, but now with COVID-19, we find ourselves cast out of hospitals. 

It took us a very long time to get public recognition. Until not long ago, only a minority of expectant individuals knew what a doula is. I believe that it took too long for two main reasons:

  1. The refusal of the health care system to acknowledge the value of a doula, which makes it an out of pocket service, and quite an expensive one. 
  2. The affiliation of doulas with natural or unmedicated childbirth; an experience that doesn’t really resonate with the majority of birth givers. 

Doulas finally received recognition and then came COVID-19. Our challenge is to convince prospective clients to hire us during this time

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Is COVID-19 Doulas’ Opportunity to Achieve Work-Life Balance?

Is COVID-19 Doulas' Opportunity to Achieve Work-Life Balance featured image

Some of the most heartbreaking news that doulas received along with the outbreak of COVID-19 was that we are banned from hospitals. Many of us were already committed to couples and families that we have come to love and care for, and with the increased level of uncertainty and fear, we knew that our clients needed us even more. As the numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to increase, it becomes clear that this crisis might last as long as a year or even more, raising a growing concern about doulas’ source of income. As upsetting and tormenting as this ban might be, the current crisis bears an opportunity; an opportunity to achieve work-life balance.

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Birth Activism is Taking a Turn; It’s time for Social Accountability!

This post is not about your career.  It is not about your professional development as a birth support provider, or how you can better serve birthing individuals and their families.

It’s about something happening in America right now.

Birth activists like us have worked hard for decades to guarantee women’s right to choose in childbirth:

Silence is not neutral and it is not an option

  • The freedom to choose one’s preferred place for their birth.
  • The freedom to choose one’s support group for their birth.
  • The freedom to create one’s birth vision and receive maternal care that acknowledges the vision as equally important as the caregiver’s clinical knowledge.
  • The freedom to give birth and have intact perineum.
  • The freedom to autonomy in L&D by rejecting medical advice that does not align with one’s beliefs and values.

It is time to humbly admit that this birth activism is privileged and not enough.

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What You Miss by Overlooking Birth Support Clients’ Motivations

  • I would like to experience a natural birth”  vs. “The idea of taking an Epidural scares me more than childbirth itself”. 
  • “I feel safe and confident at home, and that’s why I would like to have a home birth.” vs. “I’m afraid of going into the hospital because of the outbreak of  Coronavirus”. 
  • “Being intimate with my partner is what’s most important to me in terms of my ideal birth experience” vs. “I’m afraid a doula in the room is one more opinion to deal with”. 

The statements above show that more and more expectant individuals are aware of their choices and options, and this is great! For many decades, birth support professionals have worked hard to promote the notion of birth givers’ right of choice and to spread the idea of advocacy throughout the journey of pregnancy and childbirth. Our goal was to empower birth givers so they don’t feel they have to obey experts who confuse being knowledgeable with being an authority.  At the same time, we might have overlooked the motivations behind expectant individuals’ choices or goals. You may wonder why is this important? You may think that as long as you understand clients’ desired birth experiences or their visions for their birth, the  “why” doesn’t matter. Well, just keep reading.

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