You read all the pregnancy books, birth books and attended newborn care classes. You obsessively refreshed your pregnancy/birth phone apps and made or bought frozen "pad-sicles." You talked with your mom friends at length about their own birthing experience, but yet, it still wasn't enough to prepare you for the reality of becoming a mom.

The feelings that accompany matrescence, or the transition to motherhood, are often a shock. Like adolescence, matrescence is a time of significant hormonal shifts, identity crisis, and a faltering in confidence, self-esteem, and so much more. Enter mom burnout.

What is matrescence?

“The process of becoming a mother, coined by Dana Raphael, Ph.D. (1973), is a developmental passage where a woman transitions through pre-conception, pregnancy and birth, surrogacy or adoption, to the postnatal period and beyond.”

Aurélie Athan, Ph.D. Clinical Psychology | Teachers College, Columbia University | Licensed Phycologist

It's this perfect storm of physical exhaustion, emotional highs & lows, and external pressures that set the stage for burnout. Burnout / overwhelm / depletion, whatever word speaks to you the most, is an increasingly common condition among mamas today. We're walking zombies, constantly exhausted and unable to muster the energy to do the things we enjoyed before becoming a mama—all noticeable mom burnout symptoms.

So what can we do about it?

The good news is that if you're trying to avoid burnout or experiencing it already, there are many small things you can do that will have a considerable impact on your health and well-being.

Read through the five tips below and pick 1 or 2 minor changes to implement at a time, master them, then move on to the next.  

How to recover from mom burnout: 

1. Eat more whole foods

Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum are extremely taxing on the body. It takes A LOT of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients (protein/fat/carbs) to build and take care of a baby. Once you're holding that little one in your arms, it's time to replenish. This doesn't mean you have to overhaul your diet altogether - no new mom has time for that. Instead, start small by stocking some nutrient-dense (think veggies/fruit/high-quality protein), easy to prepare, natural/whole (unprocessed) foods in your fridge and pantry that can be added to whatever else you're eating. For example, if you're craving a bowl of cereal, have one but also have a hard-boiled egg or some carrot sticks to go with it. If you're opening up a bag of chips, pull out some hummus for dipping. Ask yourself, "How can I add more nutrition to this?" before picking your next snack/meal, and don't worry about calories. Your primary goal is to replenish, not lose weight, which comes with time.

A great place to start would be this book: The First Forty Days, The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother

2. Balance your blood sugar

New moms are often riding an energy roller coaster propelled by blood sugar highs and lows. Crashes and spikes are incredibly stressful on your body; avoiding these dips goes a long way in restoring energy levels. Eat meals every 3-4 hours and include snacks if needed, both of which should always include protein and fat. Combining carbs with protein and fat flattens out the bumps in your coaster's track. Avoid eating sugary treats on their own and limit caffeine to 1 or 2 cups before noon.

I love CHOMPS jerky sticks for a quick protein snack. If you need to reduce your caffeine intake, consider RASA, a coffee alternative

3. Eat enough protein

Protein is vital for tissue & joint repair, hormone health, breastmilk production, and so much more. This is especially true in the months following birth; you essentially just ran a marathon without getting any proper recovery time (hello newborn sleep!). Aim to plate a palm-size amount of protein at every meal and include protein-heavy snacks in-between (e.g., HB eggs, cheese, yogurt, jerky, hummus).

I also love adding Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides to my morning hot beverage or mixed into oatmeal.

4. Redefine what self-care means to you

Make a list of all the things that make you feel like you. What did you love to do before kiddos? What lights you up? Big things like massages and facials are fun, but you can do the little things consistently that make a difference. Maybe it's listening to a podcast or audiobook, journaling, meditating, going for a 10-minute walk, or talking on the phone with a friend. Try to do one thing from your list every single day. If time feels constrained, ask your partner, friends, other relatives, or babysitter for help.

If the weather allows, treat yourself to a pool day. Checkout Resort Pass to find a spa near you that offers day passes

5. Re-evaluate your priority list

Mama, you are #1, you're the backbone of the family unit, and when your needs aren't met, life can quickly veer off the rails. You CAN say no to things that drain you, you CAN ask for help, and you absolutely CAN take a break. Permit yourself to become your #1 priority. To take care of others, you must first take care of yourself. You deserve this.

Invest in a paper planner. You can get intentional with your time by booking what’s important to you first on the calendar.

6. BONUS TIP: Find your tribe

Seek out other women who can support you. Find local mom groups or join online support groups (PSI is a great resource) to connect with other women going through the same life experience. There are also many amazing postpartum doulas, lactation consultants, therapists, and life coaches ready to help. You are never alone.

Visit Amber Dawn Wellness to find your tribe, and integrate all the other recommendations.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ON MATRESCENCE:

  1. Matrescence — What is it? by Alexandra Sacks MD / Reproductive Psychiatrist / Parenting Contributor @NYTimes / Book Author “What No One Tells You” | Podcast Host @GimletMedia’s “Motherhood Sessions.”
  2. View her TED Talk here
  3. Aurélie Athan, Ph.D. A clinical psychologist and faculty member at Teachers College, Columbia University where she revived the term Matrescence through education, theory, and practice. Her graduate-level courses and certificate program in Reproductive Psychology are the first of their kind.

Disclaimer: All material on this post is provided for your information and education only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. This information isn’t intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease, nor is it medical advice.

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