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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.

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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.

There is no denying that every baby is born with their very own personality and now you're really starting to see that emerge! Whether your buddy is silly or more serious, we bet you are loving this time of really getting to know each other.

At this point, you're probably feeling like your baby changes by the minute, and watching this transformation is so much fun. But let's face it: Their increasing mobility and newfound independence can throw a mama for a major loop. Just when you start to feel like you've mastered this new mom thing, your baby goes and changes the game.

As you also know by now, life isn't slowing down very much. Some mamas prefer diving right back into their "former life" as soon as possible after their baby's arrival; others are only starting to dip their toes back into those waters. You do you, mama!

Either way, adding these products to your personal and parenting toolkits can make these transitions so much easier (and more enjoyable, too!).

For soothing baby bottoms: The Honest Company diaper rash cream

Honest diaper cream

As the food your baby eats changes, so too may their dirty diapers. If that's causing some irritation, you'll want to stock up on some fast-acting diaper rash cream.

$9.99

For baby-proofing: Safety 1st childproofing essentials kit

Safety First

With mobility in your near future, now is the time to give your house a safety once-over. We're still waiting for an explanation as to why babies gravitate straight to household hazards, but prepare yourself before they find those eye-level outlets.

$5.99

When baby has something to say: ‘Baby Signs’ board book

Baby signs

Long before you can have conversations, baby sign language can give your baby an effective way to communicate their needs. Our favorite starter signs are 'milk,' 'more' and 'all done.'

$10.99

A friend for peekaboo: Bright Starts belly laugh puppy

Bright Starts

Between the ages of 4 and 7 months, babies generally develop their sense of object permanence, which means they understand that something isn't gone forever when it's out of sight. This also means they're in on the joke during a fun game of peekaboo!

$12.59

For introducing new flavors: Plum Organics stage 2 baby food

Plum Organics

As you continue to add more options to your baby's diet, some organic, pre-made pouches are both convenient and delicious. (For your baby, at least—although we'll say some of the flavors aren't that bad.)

$4.89

For at-home date night: Scrabble board game

Scrabble

Mix up your at-home entertainment options with a 2-person board game. For stakes, have the loser take out the diaper trash for a week!

$16.19

For wine night: Threshold stainless steel wine glasses

Threshold

Long-stem, breakable wine glasses and babies just don't mix—but if you're planning an at-home date night or hosting a few friends, these durable glasses are a fantastic option.

$6.99

For jeans you love now: Universal Thread high-waist jeans

Universal Thread

It's a fact: Pregnancy and motherhood change our bodies in ways beyond what a scale measures. There is something incredibly empowering about embracing your body for exactly how it is today by finding a pair of jeans you feel comfortable in now.

$19.99

For a home refresh: Project 62 shag rug

Project 62

When you have a baby with crawling in the horizon, it's a good time for a plush, comfortable rug to spruce up the living room. It will see a lot of playtime in the future, so go for something large in size.

$199.99

For healthy snacks on hand: (re)zip reusable lunch bags

rezip bags

Keeping up with your baby can work up quite the appetite, so it helps to keep some options on hand that are healthy for both you and the environment. Cut up some veggies at the beginning of the week and stash them in these reusable bags for easy, eco-friendly meal prep.

$19.99

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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How often do we see a "misbehaving" child and think to ourselves, that kid needs more discipline? How often do we look at our own misbehaving child and think the same thing?

Our society is conditioned to believe that we have to be strict and stern with our kids, or threaten, shame or punish them into behaving. This authoritarian style of parenting is characterized by high expectations and low responsiveness—a tough love approach.

But while this type of authoritarian parenting may elicit "obedient" kids in the short-term, studies suggest that children who are shamed or punished in the name of discipline face challenges in the long-term. Research suggests that children who are harshly disciplined or shamed tend to be less happy, less independent, less confident, less resilient, more aggressive and hostile, more fearful and at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues as adults and adolescents.

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The reason? No one ever changes from being shamed.

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