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We need to talk about postpartum rage—and why it happens

The kind that sneaks up on you and before you know it, you are exploding.

postpartum rage

As a therapist who does a lot of work with new moms, I am thrilled that awareness is rising about postpartum depression. Women are more informed than ever about what to be on the lookout for after baby arrives: sadness that lasts beyond the first two weeks, difficulty sleeping when baby is sleeping, intrusive thoughts, excessive crying and trouble bonding with baby, just to name a few symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety.

But there is one symptom that still receives very little attention: postpartum rage.

What is postpartum rage?


What on earth am I talking about when I say “postpartum rage"? I'm talking about overwhelming anger. Anger that is so intense it feels like it shouldn't even be called just “anger." The kind that sneaks up on you and before you know it, you are exploding.

It may be prompted by a seemingly minor annoyance—a load of dishes that your partner forgot to start the night before, leaving you without a clean coffee mug in the morning, or a red light when you're trying to get home with a crying baby in the backseat. Or it may bubble up out of nowhere—your mom calls to ask how your day is going and suddenly you're screaming about the awful night before and your certainty that tonight will be even worse.

Why do people experience postpartum rage?

Postpartum rage can be quite unsettling for women struggling with it. One thing that can be helpful is to understand a bit about where the anger is coming from.

To start with, I generally tell moms that I don't believe that anger is a feeling. I know as a therapist that's kind of a weird thing for me to say, but let me explain. I believe that anger is a sign post, a big old red flag alerting us to a difficult feeling. A feeling that we really, really don't want to feel or deal with, so we push it away and “feel" anger instead. The more intense the anger, the more intense the underlying feeling.

In the case of postpartum rage, I often find that the anger is alerting us to feelings of being overwhelmed, resentment at not being appreciated or acknowledged by those close to us, isolation from our usual social supports, uncertainty about acclimating to our new life as a mom, and guilt related to our perceived failures in mothering.

Whatever prompts it to appear, postpartum rage generally comes with a sense of being out of control of your anger. It just doesn't feel like you, but you feel powerless to control it. In fact, you've tried to get a handle on it and you just can't. No amount of deep breathing is getting you out of this one.

What can I do about postpartum rage?

First, you can take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. This is actually a rather common symptom of postpartum depression and anxiety, but one that very few women talk about. It seems safer to talk about the feelings of sadness than the acts of anger. Everyone expects a new mom to be weepy and overwhelmed. They don't typically expect her to drop f-bombs and scream when things don't go as planned. So even though you may not have heard of other moms struggling with postpartum rage, let me assure you they are out there. Lots of them.

Next, it's important to assess if you have other symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety. If you do, or you're unsure if you do, it's important to reach out for help. You don't need to suffer through this alone. Your OB, midwife, primary care physician or therapist would all be great places to start exploring options.

It can also be helpful to begin tracking your episodes of postpartum rage. Where were you? What was happening? Who were you with? What time of day? How tired were you? How were you feeling? If you can begin to notice a pattern, or situations that tend to bring out the rage, it can help to clue you in to what the underlying issues are that are being expressed in your anger.

I also encourage all new moms suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety, but particularly those with postpartum rage, to find ways to reconnect with their bodies so that they can start to become attuned again to the messages our bodies send us about our needs.

Our bodies are remarkably skilled at telling us what's going on. Muscle tension alerts us to stress we had overlooked. Increased heart rate can tell us that a situation is starting to get overwhelming for us. A general feeling of weariness clues us in that it's time to prioritize rest.

But in the craziness of new motherhood, we often lose touch with ourselves and therefore we miss out on these important signals. If you can get in touch with these signals, they can help give you notice that you're getting stressed so you can employ coping skills—and ask for help!— to get back on track before things get too overwhelming.

Bottom line: postpartum rage affects many, many, many new moms. You are not the only one out there losing her you-know-what on a regular basis. But just because it's common doesn't mean that it's healthy or something you just have to deal with. There are lots of treatment options if you're able to take that first step and let someone know you're struggling. Reaching out is scary, but it's worth it.

These new arrivals from the Motherly Shop are *so* good you need them all

Noodle and Boo, Mushie and Plan Toys—everything you need, mama.

Motherhood is hard work—finding great products and brands to make the journey easier doesn't have to be. Each week, we stock the Motherly Shop with brilliant new products we know you'll need and love from brands and makers that really care.

So, what's new this week?

Noodle and Boo: Holistic baby skin care

Through working with chemists who specialize in natural and holistic skin care, Noodle and Boo has developed exclusive formulas that nourish, replenish and protect especially delicate, eczema-prone and sensitive skin—including laundry detergent. Their signature, obsession-worthy scent—which is subtly sweet, pure and fresh—is the closest thing to bottling up "baby smell" we've ever found.

Mushie: Kids' dinnerware that actually looks great

We're totally crushing on Mushie's minimalist dinnerware for kids. Their innovative baby and toddler products leverage Swedish design to marry both form and function while putting safety front and center. Everything is created in soft, muted colors from BPA-free materials.

Plan Toys: Open-ended toys that last

Corralling and cleaning up the toys becomes less stressful when you bring home fewer, better, more beautiful ones. Plan Toys checks all the boxes. Made from re-purposed rubber wood, they're better for the planet as well.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Mushie silicone baby bib

Mushie silicone baby bib

There's no going back to cloth bibs after falling in love with this Swedish design. The pocket catches whatever misses their mouths and the BPA-free silicone is waterproof and easy to wipe down between uses.

$13

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

We're totally crushing on the soft muted colors that flow with our table aesthetics and the thoughtful high-sided design that helps babies and toddler who are learning to feed themselves.

$15

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Stocked with everything a new mama needs to care for her little one's delicate skin, Noodle and Boo's nursery essentials gift set is the perfect way to create a holistic and natural skin care routine from day one.

$45

Plan Toys doctor set 

Plan Toys doctor set

Ideal for quiet time and imaginative role play, we love the gorgeous planet-friendly doctor kit from Plan Toys. The rubber wood stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, syringe and reflex hammer pack up neat and tidy into the red cotton case should they need to dash off on a rescue mission.

$30

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Since we're buying and using hand sanitizer by the truckload these days, we're thrilled Noodle and Boo has made one we can feel good about using on little ones who cram their hands in their mouths 24/7. Not only does it kill 99.9% of germs, but it also leaves hands moisturized as well.

$10

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

A toy box isn't complete without a set of blocks—and this set is one of our new favorites. The sustainable, re-purposed wood is eco-friendly, comes at a relatively affordable price point and are certain to last well beyond multiple kids, hand-me-downs and even generations.

$30

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Because their products were developed for delicate and eczema-prone skin, Noodle and Boo's full line of skin care has become a favorite among those with sensitive skin of all ages. This set is the perfect way to pamper the entire family.

$48

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

No need to sacrifice safety or design with the sustainable dinnerware from Mushie. Their minimalist, functional dishes are perfect for serving up meals and snacks to your tablemates who might hurl it to the floor at any point. They're made in Denmark from BPA-free polypropylene plastic mamas can feel good about and dishwasher and microwave-safe as well.

$14

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

The best engaging, open-ended toys are the ones that are left out and available, inviting little (and big!) ones to play. These beautiful gem-like blocks make for addicting coffee table play for the entire family.

$30

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Energy-efficient design isn't just for grown-up real estate. This green dollhouse includes a wind turbine, a solar cell panel, electric inverter, recycling bins, a rain barrel, a biofacade and a blind that can adjust the amount of sunlight and air circulation along with minimalist furniture we'd totally love to have in our own houses.

$250

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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In Montessori schools, parents are periodically invited to observe their children at work in the classroom. I have heard many parents express shock to see their 3- or 4-year-old putting away their own work when they finish—without even being asked!

"You should see his room at home!" or, "I ask him to put his toys away every day, and it's a battle every single time" were frequent comments.

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