The Matrescence was born out of Lauren and Megan’s desire to provide more support for moms after each personally faced debilitating bouts of anxiety and feelings of loneliness after giving birth. They decided that validation and connection with other moms was one way to get moms what they most needed. Lauren and Megan are two moms (Lauren is a board-certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and boy mom times three and Megan is a marketing guru and mom of three under six) on a mission to change the landscape of maternal mental health by challenging and expanding the way traditional medicine approaches post-natal mental health, and to highlight the overall importance of mental health in maternal wellness.
The Matrescence is a digital maternal mental health community and app providing mothers with a space to learn, heal, and grow!
Check out a little sneak peek at our conversation with Lauren and Megan:
Lauren: There are so many experiences in motherhood that have been shushed and muzzled that need to be talked about because every woman deserves to process those things and they all do impact your mental health.
Intrusive thoughts for example. They are very common. I think they’re saying it’s almost 100% of moms have them now. The issue here is just how sticky they get. If you have gone through something traumatic or something that was really hard for you, they can get sticky, and you start to not be able to just have the thought and go on with your day and you start ruminating on it and you’re staying up at night…
That’s kind of what happened to me. I didn’t say it out loud, but then I would spend the entire night, even when the baby was sleeping, searching for validation on the internet. I wondered if anyone else was having these crazy thoughts that I can’t say out loud because I know they sound crazy? And even being educated and working in healthcare, I didn’t know all of that because it’s just not talked about enough.
Traditional scales to measure postpartum depression show what’s black-and-white. They do a subpar job of capturing subtlety even when it’s not even that subtle.
JULIE: Have those scales been updated? My youngest is nine so I don’t know if that’s been updated since but I remember filling it out and the wording being like, “Are you worried you’ll hurt your baby?” And I interpreted that to mean am I worried that I’m going to intentionally hurt him? So, I checked no, but I was literally afraid to walk through every doorway because I thought I was going to hit his head on the door jamb. Could I have used help? Maybe. But in my head that’s not what the question was asking.
LAUREN: Yes, they’ve updated the term from PPD (postpartum depression) to PMADs (perinatal mood and anxiety disorders) to encompass the various presentations mothers may experience, but even this label still falls short of actually shedding light on what these symptoms look like in real motherhood and what it looks like when it doesn’t present as depression and is more than everyday anxiety or OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder.) So, the field is changing but it’s not quite there.
What if your doctor catches you on a good day at your six-week appointment, which is usually when you get to get out of the house, show your baby off, and you have 15 minutes in that appointment and the focus is a lot on the baby and not much on your mental health? It’s kind of a check-the-box thing and it’s more like what birth control are you on and whether you are physically healing. That’s to no fault of the OBGYN that’s just how our system is set up and there’s not a lot of time to have those vulnerable conversations.
So, even if you go prepared to talk about your experiences, it is sometimes hard to actually vocalize how you’ve been feeling and give a bigger picture.
MEGAN: And that scale is scary, too, because the questions are worded so extremely that you’re like, if I tell the truth, what’s going to happen? It’s kind of fearful, unfortunately. One of our most downloaded free resources is preparing for that six-week checkup.
It’s a checklist of things to be thinking and thought-provoking questions to get you journaling and writing down what’s actually happening in that whole three weeks before you even go to the appointment. So it’s not just a snapshot of how are you feeling today. It’s a true picture of how you’ve been feeling. And if you need to just hand it over to them, we encourage moms to do that because we know it can be hard to bring up, “Well, actually I’m scared to walk through every single doorway because I might bonk my baby’s head.” Sometimes that’s hard to say to a doctor.
VAL: I think the whole postpartum questionnaire in general is scary because you’re worried that if you say something wrong, you’re going to get your baby taken away because you’re crazy. This was my worry, even though I felt pretty calm after my first baby. I was okay. I had a lot of support- and I still felt like I couldn’t share my experience with my provider.
JULIE: Val, you also had a traumatic birth experience.
VAL: Right. And Lauren, I know you said you worked in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit.) My son was in the NICU for three weeks when he was first born and that was a dark dark time. That was my first experience with giving birth and having a baby. I felt like I was completely alone. My family was surrounding me. Everybody was helping with whatever they could, but it was the type of thing where you are completely not expecting what’s going to happen and it sends you into a dark place.
I can even remember walking around the halls in the NICU and there were a couple of moms that I talked to but there was still not that in-person connection that you could say, “Oh, well, I cry constantly”, “I feel like I’m constantly low”, and “I feel like my baby’s going to die.” Nobody’s saying that out loud. People will say that on an app, and people will say that in an online conversation. This app would have been a great resource for me because it was such a dark time.
I really wish that I had found something that really worked for me during that time.
Additional resources shared in this convo…
- Silently Suffering a Miscarriage: When the Mom Life Doesn’t Stop for Grief
- Alone: How I Conquered My Need to Avoid Feeling Grief
- 3.12 Everything you ever needed to know about pelvic floor PT with Dr. Davida Murray
- Preparing For Your 6-Week Check Up
- The Matrescence Membership Community: A safe space to host open and honest conversations alongside women going through similar experiences
- Resource Library: Expert-curated library of science-backed resources to guide you to and through motherhood.
For more information, follow The Matrescence on Instagram @thematrescence.
To hear the full interview with Lauren and Megan, check out the latest episode of Whose Kid is That?!? with Julie and Val. You can listen on Apple or Spotify. Don’t forget to subscribe so you know exactly when each new episode is released!
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