If you find yourself feeling more intensely angry than before, there’s a chance it’s postpartum rage. Here’s how you can deal with – and overcome – it for good.
Ever find yourself so angry that you yell at your baby or partner? Especially in the current pandemic, feelings of postpartum rage have become more frequent.
Let’s take a minute and be honest: motherhood is hard. You’re not alone.
Many accounts of motherhood highlight the happy, joy-filled moments, but there is always another side. And in reality, how can we not experience some anger, resentment, or sadness during this everchanging journey that is motherhood.
What are rage and anger?
Rage and anger are tricky emotions. While they are common emotions, anger usually is our clue that something else is going on. Anger is a surface emotion.
More often than not, anger is how our body and mind protect us from what we’re feeling: sad, hurt, unseen, frustrated, or burnt out.
If you have feelings about hurting yourself or someone else, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
So, what does postpartum rage look like?
If you’re curious about the typical behaviors often associated with postpartum rage, take a look at the below list.
Symptoms of postpartum rage include (but are not limited to):
- Struggling to control our temper
- Increased irritability
- Easily angered (cursing/swearing)
- Physical reactions (throwing things)
- Having violent urges or thoughts
- Unable to ‘snap out of it’
- Flooding of emotions after feeling rage or anger
Overall, postpartum rage is an extreme or intense feeling. A new mother might be surprised when feeling or expressing rage – as it wasn’t innate pre-baby.
And while it can be easy for us to feel guilt and turn our anger inwards, there are ways we can – and should – work on ourselves when experiencing something like postpartum rage—more on this below.
What causes postpartum rage?
While there is no one reason why someone may experience postpartum rage, there are risk factors that can increase one’s possibility of having it.
Risk factors for postpartum rage include:
- Previously experiencing depression or anxiety
- Being diagnosed with a PMAD (Perinatal Mood Disorder)
- A lack of support
- Being the default parent
- Experiencing a complicated pregnancy or birth trauma
- Having a child with medical or developmental challenges
- Experiencing grief or loss during the postpartum period
All the above risk factors put postpartum mothers even more vulnerable. It can be challenging to identify these risk factors or triggers, especially when in the thick of postpartum.
Thankfully, there are healthy ways to cope and deal with postpartum rage and some tools you can use to help overcome it.
How to deal with postpartum rage (and overcome it)
Below you’ll find 14 ways to better notice, navigate, and overcome feelings of postpartum anger. Keep in mind that it may take some time to find the best practices that work for you.
The first step in addressing your anger is acknowledging it when it is happening.
Talk about it
Speak up and confide in your partner, a family member, a close friend, or even your healthcare provider. The more we talk about our feelings, the more we can understand what is causing us to feel that way.
If you don’t feel ready to talk about it, try journaling. That could be using journaling to vent, or maybe try writing down the times and days you feel angry and seeing if there is a pattern.
Are you consistently mad at 6 pm, after a long day with your baby and feeling touched out or burnt out? Sometimes it takes keeping a log to pick up on these patterns.
If you need a more guided journal, check out The Postpartum Depression Workbook.
Try to reframe that thought when you feel yourself becoming consumed by your anger/rage.
Instead of, ‘I’m so mad the baby won’t stop crying!’ try ‘My baby is upset, and crying is the only way they know how to communicate to me. This moment is temporary, and I’ll get through it.’
Some examples are taking a break or doing some deep breathing. It’s okay to put the baby down in the crib or bassinet (in a safe place) and walk away for five minutes to regroup.
It’s a strength to realize you’re getting that upset or angry – and to acknowledge it – and take a couple of minutes for yourself.
Prioritize sleep and rest
Yes, this is a given, and we know how hard it can be as a new mom. But lack of sleep – or postpartum insomnia – can trigger and exacerbate feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability, and anger.
Quitting the comparison game can feel hard, especially with social media. But everyone’s motherhood journey is unique, and it’s essential to try and remember that no one’s motherhood journey is the same – and none are perfect.
Let go of responsibilities
We understand that this isn’t possible all of the time. Perhaps you can start with dropping or delegating one small responsibility each week.
Say ‘No’ more often
Naying no and setting boundaries after birth can be challenging, but it is vital to your mental and physical health.
Make time for fun
Go out without the baby, enjoy time with your friends, and laugh. It can make all the difference.
Take a break from social media
Social media can sometimes put us in a negative headspace. Taking a break or setting limits – for example, every night at 8 pm – you put your phone away.
Sometimes taking a moment to pause and reflect on the good things around us can help shift our mindsets into a more positive direction.
Seeking professional help is always an option, and sometimes an objective perspective can make all the difference.
There is always the option to take medication to help navigate postpartum rage, and there is no shame in doing so. You can discuss this option further with your medical provider.
Final thoughts on dealing with postpartum rage
Postpartum rage is one symptom that is quite common and, with the pandemic, is being seen by healthcare providers more frequently.
It’s critical to remember that motherhood is a complicated, forever-changing journey. The more we talk about these things and normalize them, the more moms out there can know they’re not alone.
Other postpartum mental health resources
- Tips for Overcoming the Pressure to be a ‘Perfect Mother’
- Free Postpartum Mental Health Checklist
- How to Overcome Unwanted and Intrusive Thoughts in Postpartum