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Postpartum Rage - The Most Often Shamed and Misconceived Emotional Experience

Updated: Feb 23

The reason why I wanted to write about postpartum rage is because of how stigmatized it is and how much people misunderstand it by chalking it up to hormones and nothing else.


Hormones, it's what we hear about most often when it comes to our postpartum experiences.


Hormones certainly play a part in our experiences postpartum but hormones play an actual role on our emotions too - on purpose. Our hormones make us feel a certain way so that we can act appropriately to what our hormones are responding to. We can utilize this to serve us instead of fight it or shame it.


Anger is an incredibly important emotion. It indicates to us that a part of us feels unsafe. Anger is a mobilizing emotion. It helps us to move from feeling stuck or vulnerable to taking action and rescuing us from unsafe situations. But sometimes our expression of anger can keep us in a cycle of unhelpful behaviours and can harm our relationships.


If you experience postpartum rage or if you're finding that you feel angry or agitated often, when you take the time to explore these feelings further, you will find that parts of you have very good reasons to feel this way, even if you think that the feeling and resulting expression may not be proportionate to the thing its directed at, this feeling is coming from a place that's true for you - and it's essential to look at it more deeply.


If you have strong people pleasing parts, the polarization between your people pleaser and your anger can be extremely distressing. Part of you wanting to keep the peace, be liked, not be difficult, make sure they’re happy versus the part of you that doesn’t feel safe, isn’t okay with what is happening and wants to protect yourself and/or your baby.


It’s often difficult to communicate it when you're feeling so strongly but just know that these strong feelings are not for nothing, you're not crazy and with the right support, you will find relief.


These feelings may just need to be felt, seen and heard - in a compassionate, understanding, validating and safe space.


Some possible real reasons postpartum rage erupts:

You may be;

Lacking the support you need

Grieving a loss (of a loved one, of a birth/postpartum experience you wish you'd had or expected, complicated pregnancy/birth, previous miscarriage, breastfeeding issues, etc.)

Overwhelmed

Not feeling seen or heard by loved ones or those around you


It may be that you need a safe outlet to express your needs and to share your feelings.


When we have a safe space to reflect and explore our experience, we gain more capacity to move through difficult experiences and find clarity where it was once murky.


When you become curious about what’s going on with your feelings and resulting behaviours and when you get the whole picture, you will find that how you feel and react makes complete sense.


More often, when it comes to postpartum rage, we don’t allow ourselves or others to get the complete picture. Because what often happens is we have the feelings of rage and we, ourselves judge them, feel ashamed of them OR express it with passive or direct anger/aggression then we feel shame for how we reacted and then try to move on because it’s such an uncomfortable thing for us to stay with - until the next trigger then the cycle happens again.


When we don’t take the time to find the bigger picture around why we feel and react the way that we do, we judge ourselves. We also get judged by others when they are also not aware of the bigger picture.


Rage is a human experience, it’s anger. It’s a message from inside telling us “I don’t feel safe. Do something about it!” We all have and do experience it, no one is exempt. Normalize this for yourself. Can you blame yourself as to why you feel this way? I don’t.


Some tips to help you with postpartum rage:


Explore what is going on in your life right now that could be making you feel unsafe. For example, fear of losing your child/your partner/loved one can make you react with anger when they are doing something that could be potentially dangerous. If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, you could feel inadequate as a mother and like you’re failing at providing nutrition to your baby - taking care of your baby the stakes are high! Of course you’d feel so strongly. You have had barely any sleep and someone wakes the baby from their nap - now you’re deprived of the only break you get in that 24 hour period and you feel desperate to get some sleep. It feels like you have to hold it all together and feels like you’re alone in the great responsibility of raising a helpless child - what high stakes it is that are all on your shoulders. The pressure you put on yourself to be the best mom, to be there for your baby at the standard hold yourself at. And many more possible reasons.


Talk to someone. Your partner, your counsellor, best friend - someone that knows how to listen and is validating. Remember that many people are uncomfortable and judgemental of expressions of anger so be sure to talk to someone that you know has unconditional love and understanding for you. By telling someone how you feel, you’re increasing your chances of seeing your experience from another angle and coming to more understanding of yourself. When we can understand why we feel and behave the way we do, we can have more compassion for ourselves and less self-judgment and shame.


Our partners usually get the brunt of our anger as raising a child is high stakes and it’s a collaboration with our partner who has a different upbringing and may have a different way of doing things. Communication is huge. When we have someone who is on the same page, we’ve explained to them how and why we’re feeling or reacted the way we did and if we have a plan of action with them, things will go a lot smoother. We also have a better chance of feeling heard and understood by our partner, diffusing some of our anger from that alone.


Schedule in rest and activities for yourself. Whether this is something just for you after baby goes to bed or while your partner looks after your little one(s) and you head out for a walk/spa/meditation/something creative, doing something just for you will help you to start to fill your cup again.


Move your body. Research shows that as little as a 15 minute walk a day improves postpartum mental health symptoms.


Connect with community. Other moms with babies are the best people to connect with as they’ve all experienced experiences like we’re having. It’s so validating to talk to other moms with babies and goes to show how we can feel so alone in our experiences but realize that other moms with babies are dealing with the same kinds of feelings and experiences. The Peanut app is awesome for this, as well as, mom community facebook groups and mom and baby activities such as workouts/hikes and other meet-up events you can find online.


Meditate. I know, it’s hard to meditate with a baby/kids! You don’t need long, every minute counts. Try even for 2 minutes the first time. - Honour the things you’re grieving, create time in the day to go inside and be with yourself in a quiet, compassionate way. Breathe deep, close your eyes and see if you can bring your loving mothering energy to the parts of you inside that are scared and overwhelmed -- That’s what’s underneath your rage. You’re not a bad person, you’re not _________ (enter judgemental name(s) that you may have heard before around the expression of anger), you’re just scared and overwhelmed. That’s why we rage.


The sooner we can understand why we feel scared and overwhelmed and why we feel the need to gain control and protect ourselves through feeling rage, the sooner we can regain connection with ourselves and our partner, child and others around us.


Do something for you. <3


If you would like more tools on how to manage your postpartum rage or overwhelming feelings, send me a message.


I am currently accepting clients and I would love to help you find a sense of inner calm and stability again. Send me an email: dionerousseau.pmh@gmail.com or fill out the form on my website.


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