Anthropologists have a word to describe the often drastic shift to motherhood: “matrescence.” This chapter of intense change is one – as many new moms can attest – of physical and emotional transformation, and can also be, truth be told, very difficult.
In a new series of interviews, done in partnership with Perelel, fashion influencer and new mom Aimee Song – who welcomed son Teo Felix with partner Jacopo Moschin in February – sits down with reproductive psychiatrist Sarah Oreck and founding counselor of Perelel, to pull back the curtain on the realities of the postpartum experience.
Each video explores the nuances of the fourth trimester that moms, moms-to-be, and women hoping to be on the path to motherhood can relate to. Song and Oreck honestly discuss societal pressures on women and comparison culture, hormonal and body changes, identity after motherhood, and how to take care of your mental health as a new mom.
Below, scary mom chats with Song about topics from episode 2 of matrescenceentitled “Depression, anxiety and ambivalence”.
Scary Mommy: Depression and anxiety are so real after giving birth. What has been your experience, and what is your ongoing experience, with postpartum hormones?
Aimee Song: I’ve always suffered from some kind of anxiety, so when I was going through postpartum, it was definitely heightened. There were certain tools that helped me, such as resuming therapy, meditation, training, and journaling.
SM: How hard is it to feel lonely, even if you have a partner, in a lot of the lack of sleep/food/care? Women definitely take on more – physically and emotionally.
AS: I don’t think many new moms anticipate the feeling of loneliness we feel. I found breastfeeding in particular to be isolating. With hourly or bi-hourly feedings, that means you really can’t be away from your child for too long and you’re constantly sleep deprived. I remember feeling lonelier in the middle of the night than during the day, especially if my partner slept while I fed Teo. Even though my partner did everything he could to ease my burden (whether it was massaging me while I pump, washing my pump parts) if I both woke up in the middle of the night hours, I needed him to suffer with me!
SM: What are the benefits of using social media as a new mom? And what are the negatives?
AS: Using social media as a new mom has many benefits: you can connect, share experiences and learn. I’ve found it to be one of the best sources of community and education, and I really try to be as transparent as possible about my experience because I know often what you see on social media makes motherhood much easier than it actually is.
Matrescence can be really lonely, so I would definitely encourage parents to join a community where you can get real with each other and talk about the not-so-pretty side of motherhood — beyond the Instagram high point. Perelel, for example, has its Village by Perelel community – an amazing resource for connecting that I have found so useful and really appreciate. The community between moms can really lessen this feeling of guilt when we face the real experience of parenthood together.
Social media can also play a part in the mother guilt factor when you start comparing yourself to others. We always want to share the best version of ourselves and the best image of our lives on the outside, but on the receiving side it can feel like “oh, that person has it so much better than me” or “Oh why ?” Do I think about it, and will my child be late because I didn’t do this? You can really get into a spiral of negative thoughts when you start comparing yourself and your choices to others, which is why I try to share my real, raw experiences with my followers. I think if my videos can relate to even one person and make them feel less alone in their experience, I’m proud to help create that community and transparency.
SM: As you evolve into your new role as a mother, what do you hope to accomplish? Not for your baby, but for yourself.
AS: To be a better mother and boss.
Watch another episode of matrescence this week on scary mom.
Quotes have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.