If you’ve clicked on this blog and are reading these words, you are likely someone who is suffering from postpartum rage or know someone who does.

What is postpartum rage?

I’m not going to spend much time on explaining what postpartum rage is, because we all have a sense of what this looks like. However, I do want to highlight that postpartum rage is not just irritability. Postpartum rage is a more intense version of anger where a mother may lash out at those around her, and this causes her distress.  This can look like yelling, throwing things, hitting things, or slamming things.

Postpartum rage can be a symptom of a larger problem, like postpartum depression, anxiety or bipolar.  It can also simply be an intense reaction to something when our needs aren’t being met.

What are some causes of postpartum rage?

Many things can cause a mom to have postpartum rage. The list could go on and on. But I really like the idea of the anger iceberg.  This is the idea that anger is the emotion that we often see (or here, rage) and beneath this emotion can be so many different things that are combined to cause this reaction, which are often other emotions.  So on the top of the icerberg, what you can see, is anger. Beneath the surface lies sadness, disappointment, overwhelm, hungry, frustration, stress, fear, jealousy, etc.

These secondary emotions are so strong and stem from things that are happening on our lives. Maybe our baby is needing alot from us and we feel overwhelmed. Maybe our relationships is going through a tough time and we are scared. Maybe our job is demanding and we are stressed out.

It’s helpful to take a moment to stop and think about what is happening in our lives when we are experiencing rage. What is going on in your social, occupational and physical life? Putting things into perspective can help you understand your rage and work through it.

I know why I’m angry but I don’t know how to manage it.

Managing postpartum rage is not easy. It’s so difficult to calm yourself when you are in the hightened state of anger. All you can see is red and you don’t want to use any coping skills to help yourself.

Some of the coping skills that most people know about involve deep breathing, removing yourself from the situation, or even tapping into your 5 senses to bring yourself back into your body.  If these work for you, be sure to write them down somewhere or tell a loved one so that when you are in the moment of rage, you have these coping skills visible or audible for you (you don’t have to come up with them on your own).

Another wonderful skill to have is to coregulate yourself with your little one.  If you are experiencing rage because of a crying baby or your toddler throwing a tantrum, lean into that. Often walking away can lead to more feelings of anger because the baby is still not soothed. Hold your baby or toddler, take deep breathes with them, maybe walk outside for a change of scenery. Regulating yourself while regulating your little one is a great skill so keep practicing this one!

What can I do after I experience postpartum rage?

I’ve been there. You just yelled at your toddler for spilling their drink on the kitchen table.  It was just the last straw and you couldn’t stop yourself.

It’s all about the repair.

Take a moment to do what you need to do to calm down (this might even take a while, and that’s okay). Once you are in a calm state, go to your little one and talk about what happened. Let the know you are sorry, you are working on it, and that you love them very much.  This will help them cope with moment but it will also help you resolve some of the feelings of guilt and create a deeper bond with your little one.

This can also go for rage towards a partner. Repair the relationship.

Postpartum rage is not something that goes away overnight. It’s something that we have to continuously work on. But you are not alone – so many moms experience this and are working through it, so let’s talk about it.

Be sure to check out our Matters of Motherhood Sunday Chat with Ashley Moore, LPC of Riverland Counseling as we talk about postpartum rage.


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