Women are often warned about strong pregnancy emotions. When pregnant, it makes sense that mom's feelings would be all over the place. However, many women aren't aware of the intensity of postpartum emotions and how they can affect mom's everyday life.
Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety have both made more news lately due to 10-15% of women dealing with these issues. Still, not everything about postpartum emotions is being discussed as much as it needs to be, specifically rage.
That's right: rage – as in extreme, uncontrollable anger – is a very common part of the postpartum world for many women, especially those who suffer from PPD or PPA. It's hard to explain how mom can be fine one minute and then ready to scream the next, but it's happening to moms in every stage of parenting. It's important that women get help for postpartum rage, but the only way to do that is to be willing to reach out and talk about it.
Asking for help is sometimes easier once mom knows she's not alone and that there are reasons for postpartum rage and strong emotions. Here are some facts to help mom understand what is going on and what she needs to know.
20 It's Not Talked About Enough
Talking about emotions in the postpartum world isn't always easy. Although women are often assessed for postpartum depression, doctors don't often tell them that strong anger and rage are signs or that those feelings can come without it being PPD. This leaves many women feeling like monsters when they are really just going through hormonal changes and need some support.
Luckily, postpartum anger and rage are becoming more public topics, so women should be comfortable telling their doctors or midwives if they are experiencing irrational or strong anger. It's the best way to get help so mom doesn't have to go on feeling the way she does.
19 It Doesn't Make Mom Bad
Many women fear anything that might make them sound like bad mothers. That's why many women have problems admitting that they are experiencing postpartum rage. They are afraid of saying that they get angry at a baby or young child, as they think it is equivalent to marking themselves with the bad mom stamp.
This simply isn't true. The hormonal and emotional changes that accompany pregnancy and childbirth are intense, not to mention the pressure women feel when they become mothers. Getting angry doesn't mean mom is awful; it means she's human. If the anger feels out of control, it's okay to admit that and ask for assistance. Seeking help is what moms need to do for themselves and their children.
18 It Can Occur At Different Times
Some women breeze through the early infant days without any signs of problems. Sure, they are tired, but they don't have any emotional issues that cause concern, so they assume they've avoided the possible problems that come after birth.
This isn't always the case. Postpartum rage and anger can hit at any time and that means mom may find she is irrationally angry at her toddler, even if she weathered the crying infant days without a single problem. There's no particular rhythm to when these problems strike, though certain issues can make them worse. It's okay to call for help even if mom is way past being evaluated for postpartum health issues.
17 There Can Be a Connection to PPD
Postpartum depression can bring on a multitude of feelings, from sadness to anger. What many women don't realize is that feeling intense surges of rage can also be related to PPD. In fact, it's a symptom many women struggle with and are afraid to bring up with their doctors.
Postpartum depression is treatable and mom doesn't need to suffer silently. PPD is more than just baby blues and may require medication or counseling to improve. When mom feels rage or anger coursing through her veins, instead of feeling shame she should call her doctor and tell him what is happening.
16 Thyroid Issues Can Make it Worse
The thyroid controls many functions in the body, and women may have thyroid problems after giving birth. Women who had problems with their thyroids prior to getting pregnant may find their medication dosages are off after birth, and women who have never had thyroid problems may suddenly have all of the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction.
Thyroid disorders can affect mood, causing women to suffer from anxiety, depression, and rage. If mom has other symptoms of thyroid problems, such as sleep problems, body changes, and hair loss, she should tell her doctor and have her levels tested. Medication can usually fix the problem and help mom feel her best again.
15 Sleep Deprivation is an Issue
Our brains and bodies need sleep, but many researchers know we're not getting enough. Being a new mom is hard, and it's a time when quality sleep is in very short supply.
Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep can majorly alter mom's mood, causing her to lash out or become emotional over things that usually wouldn't bother her.
If mom is feeling irrationally angry, she needs to see who can cover for her while she catches up on sleep. It's okay to ask for help, and letting the baby hang out with another responsible adult while mom gets quality sleep is one of the best things she can do for everyone.
14 Postpartum Rage is More Common Than People Expect
One myth is that postpartum rage happens to only a few women and that the rest of the world will consider them strange. That's simply not true. As more women come forward with their stories of postpartum emotions gone awry, we're seeing that there are tons of women affected.
Because postpartum depression and anxiety can bring on bouts of rage, women who suffer from either condition may also suffer from postpartum rage. Luckily, more moms are talking about the effects these conditions have on their lives, so more women will hopefully get help. The less postpartum rage is stigmatized, the easier it is to come forward.
13 There's No Particular Target
When mom tries to explain how she feels during an episode of postpartum rage or anger, it's hard. What people don't understand is that the rage often has no target.
Mom isn't mad at her baby or everyone around her. She's just upset in general, and this anger takes a dramatic form with no particular target.
Many women have problems talking about this sort of anger because there's no target and the reasons for it may seem vague, even to mom. That's what makes the rage so frustrating. Sure, it's hard to be sleep deprived and up with a crying baby, but women know that the anger they feel is out of proportion with the situation. That's why they need to ask for help.
12 Hormones Can Play a Role
Pregnancy and right after birth are times when hormone levels are in flux. Mom goes from growing a person to giving birth, and then her body starts adjusting to feed this person and care for him. Hormone changes during this time can cause disruptions in the way mom feels, and this may lead her to have stronger emotions than usual.
Hormones usually level out over time, but not every woman can wait if she's feeling out of control anger. Plus, some women's hormone levels stay out of whack due to other problems, like thyroid problems. It's important for mom to talk to her doctor and figure out what she needs so her hormones will level out and give her some relief.
11 There Is Help
Many women suffer from postpartum rage because they assume there is no help available. They simply try to make themselves calm down and act the way they think they should. The problem is that these issues don't tend to go away on their own and help is out there.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, or natural supplements can help, as can seeing a counselor. The first thing mom should do is let the doctor know what she is going through. It won't be the first time the doctor has heard something like this, and mom needn't feel shame for what she's experiencing. Keeping the rage a secret means mom will likely miss out on the opportunity for help.
10 Postpartum Anxiety May Be a Contributor
Most people imagine someone who is anxious as a worry wart. They see them as frozen with worry and indecision. While this isn't always inaccurate, another part of anxiety for many people is rage. They feel irrationally angry and worked up when they are struggling with anxiety.
That's why postpartum anxiety can be really confusing. Mom may be having rushing thoughts and an erratic heartbeat, but she also feels the need to scream. She's not sure which problem to address and doesn't see that they are all connected. Getting treated for postpartum anxiety or just anxiety can help many women control postpartum rage.
9 Weaning Can Make Mom Susceptible
Most women imagine dealing with postpartum emotional issues when they have a newborn. The pictures usually show a mom holding a small child, overcome by the sleepless nights and unrelenting hormones.
What many women don't know is that postpartum rage can strike way after birth and is sometimes connected to the weaning process. Once the oxytocin is lessened when mom stops breastfeeding and her period comes back full force, her hormones may fluctuate and cause issues she wasn't having previously. That's why it's never too late to talk the doctor if mom doesn't feel like herself. Postpartum issues don't always follow a predictable timetable.
8 Women are Writing About It
More and more women are writing books and articles about their experiences with postpartum rage. Many of these include information about journeys through postpartum depression and anxiety as well.
This is good news because it offers women who are dealing with these things other voices so they will know they're not alone.
Even social media posts often mention struggles moms have with postpartum emotions. While some try to curate and create a perfect online image, many women are being honest about what they've suffered at the hands of postpartum rage. They are also sharing how they got help and offering inspiration for us all.
7 Doctors May Miss It
Mom will usually fill out a questionnaire at her post-birth appointment to assess for postpartum issues. The problem is these often miss postpartum anxiety and rage since they specifically focus on PPD. Six weeks is also often not enough time for mom to know how she feels. The body is still recovering, and mom may not even be aware of where she's at emotionally.
The fact that many women don't suffer until months after birth doesn't help. After the initial appointment to check on mom's recovery, many women will not see their OBs or midwives again for a while, leaving them to suffer alone if they don't know to go for help.
6 The Physical Stress Of Birth May Play a Role
Many women have specific ideas about how they want birth to go. These plans may be written down in a birth plan or discussed with the doctor before mom goes into labor. However, plans change and many women see their birth plans get derailed.
Some women even experience difficulties during birth. These issues can be connected to postpartum rage because they make the recovery process so hard for mom, and rage may be her reaction. Taking care of a child while trying to recover from a birth is a special kind of stress, and it may trigger emotions in mom that are hard to control.
5 It's Stronger Than Anger
It's normal to get angry. All humans do and there's no need to pretend or repress those feelings. Of course, we have to choose what we do about them, but everyone experiences anger. Postpartum rage is different.
The feeling that comes with postpartum rage is often intense, quick, and out of nowhere. A woman who was fine one minute will suddenly feel so stressed out over the smallest thing that she'll snap and yell or feel such intense emotions. Even if she doesn't act on these feelings, she will be exhausted and concerned that these emotions surface so quickly from seemingly nowhere.
4 It Often Leads to Embarrassment
Postpartum rage is hard to handle for most women because it leads to so much shame. After an episode where mom has yelled or lost control, she'll feel awful and wonder why she can't control her reactions. This leads her to feel even worse and can result in more episodes of rage.
It's normal to feel guilty for bad behavior, but mom needs to try to avoid sliding down the shame spiral. It does no good and will not change the situation. Instead, she needs to offer herself some grace and ask for help. Taking care of herself and letting others help her out will ultimately do much more than just feeling shame.
3 It Can Relate To PTSD
Posttraumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is usually connected to veterans of war or those who have been through a traumatic experience. While this is accurate, PTSD can strike moms who experience difficult birth experiences or who have children that were hospitalized for long periods after birth. PTSD can lead to postpartum rage.
The constant stress that those dealing with PTSD feel can lead to rage-like feelings and behavior. Getting to the source of the stress and dealing with the event that caused it can go a long way in dealing with the trauma and the rage for mom.
2 It Interferes With Everyday Life
Postpartum rage interferes with mom's everyday activities to the point that many women feel they don't even recognize their own lives.Stressed, snappy, and constantly on edge, many women stop enjoying things they previously enjoyed because of fear that they will have a rage episode.
This is no way to live, and that's why getting help is so important. Though it may take a while and be more than a one-step process, mom can feel better and get her life back. She'll start to enjoy getting up in the morning and making plans again, and the little things that used to set her off won't seem as major anymore.
1 Others Are Helped By Mom Getting Help
Mom needs to get help with postpartum rage for herself, but she also needs to do it for her children. Even if mom doesn't lash out as often as she feels like she wants to, postpartum rage still has an effect on everyone around mom, especially her kids.
Children don't understand that they aren't the cause of this anger, and they may feel like they are doing something wrong that causes mom to act this way. Kids also don't see Mom using self-control skills and may worry about the shame she has later when the rage has passed. Getting help benefits everyone, and it sets a good example for our kids when we take care of ourselves.