Postpartum Rage | Counseling | Therapy

Postpartum Rage

Diana Parker , LSW — Associate therapist

From Fury to Peace: Breaking the Silence on Postpartum Rage image

From Fury to Peace: Breaking the Silence of Postpartum Rage

Giving birth to a baby can bring up a lot of emotions. You may feel excited, happy, exhausted, or overwhelmed. You may also feel rage. Yes, rage! You can feel full of rage because there are a lot of people (hello, baby!) and tasks competing for your attention. You have to balance feedings, diaper changes, laundry, newborn doctors appointments, and maybe get some sleep, right?! Your body is healing from birth. Hormones are rebalancing, so you may deal with mood swings. Your body will look different and feel different after birth. You may see less of your friends and have little (if any) ‘me time’. Phew, that’s a lot of change! You may have heard friends who struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety. You may have heard news stories or read blogs online about postpartum psychosis. But, postpartum rage is a little different and not talked about as much as these other conditions. Postpartum rage can look like uncontrollable anger that seems to come out of nowhere. It can feel scary and overwhelming and you may not feel like yourself. Postpartum rage is real. So, let’s talk about it! To keep things straightforward, let’s paint a picture with the classic husband/wife scenario. There certainly can be two Dads celebrating a new arrival or a throuple navigating this journey together. The spotlight, though, is on whirlwind called postpartum rage, swirling around the person who just brought a tiny human into the world.

Hold On to Your Diapers: Exploring the Turbulence of Postpartum Rage

First off, what is postpartum rage? According to the Cleveland Clinic, ‘Postpartum rage is when you feel anger, frustration, or lose your temper easily after having a baby.’ That’s the definition of postpartum rage. Postpartum rage can happen anytime during the first year of the baby’s life. The anger or rage may be directed toward a new mother’s self, family members, spouse or even children. Rage is different from generic anger because it also harbors feelings of powerlessness and agitation. For example, let’s take a look at breastfeeding: the husband can’t breastfeed a baby. So it’s on the Mom to feed the baby every two hours. As a result, she may start to feel resentful and unsupported because she’s doing all of the feedings. This can contribute to feelings of rage. Moms are hard wired to tune into every noise the baby makes and respond. It’s our primal response to ensure the survival of the species. When Mom hears the slightest noise from the baby, she jolts awake at 2am while Dad snores right through it. This awareness and mental toll can contribute to Mom feeling resentful and it create an uneven sense of burden which can lead to rage. Postpartum rage can also happen because of violation of expectations. Maybe your in-laws said they would come over and help with the baby more than they actually do. Perhaps family members delayed a trip to see the new bundle of joy. Maybe well intended friends planned to come over to help with the baby, but couldn’t get away from work. These are all examples of expectation violation. Postpartum rage can happen because of the disconnect between expectations of what motherhood would be like (happiness, love, connection!) and the realities of motherhood (tired, overwhelmed, sore nipples.)

But we can’t look at postpartum rage in a vacuum. As mentioned earlier, there are multiple things happening during postpartum: your body is healing from birth, hormones are rebalancing, there’s lack of sleep and exhaustion, and caring for a tiny new human. It’s almost like you’re operating an unfamiliar car, on a new race track, in a foreign country, where you don’t speak the language. And you really have to go to the bathroom. It’s newness on top of newness on top of newness on top of urgency. And of course you’re running on 3 hours of sleep. This complex time is ripe for frustration and anger.

Beyond the Babyglow: The Realities of Postpartum Rage

Mom wakes up early in the morning to take a shower before the baby wakes up. Half way through the shower, Mom hears the baby screaming in her nursery. The baby continues to scream and then it stops. Mom gets out of the shower and sees Dad playing with the baby in the nursery. Mom goes into the nursery, picks up the baby, gives her a kiss and starts to change her diaper. The baby starts turning and rolling on the changing pad, she starts to whine, and Mom can feel her blood pressure sky rocket. Instantly, she is full of rage. Her jaw clenches and she holds her breath. She hands the baby to Dad and rushes out of the room, angry and crying hot tears. The moment she sits on the bed, she’s filled with shame and guilt. She thinks, ‘Why can’t I ever just shower in peace? Why do I have to do everything? Why doesn’t the baby just let me get through a single diaper change without all the fussing? Why am I so mad? I can’t do this. What’s wrong with me? ’

Survey Says? Fast-Track to Finding Out if Postpartum Rage is Your Uninvited Guest!

This quiz is designed to help you reflect on your emotional experiences following childbirth. It's a starting point to understand whether what you're feeling could be related to postpartum rage. Remember, this quiz cannot replace a professional diagnosis. If you're concerned about your feelings or behaviors, please reach out to a healthcare provider.

Instructions: Answer each question honestly. For each statement, choose the option that best describes how frequently you've felt or behaved in the past two weeks.







1. Feeling Overwhelmed by Anger

2. Reacting to Situations More Angrily Than Usual

3. Difficulty Controlling Your Temper

4. Regretting Actions Taken in Anger

5. Feeling Angry Without a Clear Reason

6. Anger Affecting Your Relationships

7. Feeling Guilty or Embarrassed After Getting Angry

8. Physical Symptoms When Angry (e.g., Sweating, Shaking)

9. Having Thoughts of Harming Yourself or Others When Angry

Scoring Guide:

  • Never: 0 points

  • Rarely: 1 point

  • Sometimes: 2 points

  • Often: 3 points

  • Always: 4 points

Total your points to see where you might fall on the scale of experiencing postpartum rage.


  • 0-9 Points: Your responses suggest that postpartum rage might not be a concern for you. If emotions change or intensify, consider speaking with a healthcare provider.

  • 10-18 Points: You may occasionally experience feelings associated with postpartum rage. Monitoring your emotions and seeking support might be beneficial.

  • 19-27 Points: Your answers indicate frequent experiences that could be related to postpartum rage. Seeking support and strategies for managing anger could be helpful.

  • 28+ Points: Your responses suggest a significant impact from feelings that may be associated with postpartum rage. Professional support is strongly recommended to navigate these emotions safely and healthily.

Remember, this quiz is for self-reflection and not a substitute for professional advice. If you're concerned about your emotions or how they are affecting your life, please consult with a healthcare provider.

Mastering the Mood Swings: Your Guide to Coping

This section is dedicated to shedding light on practical, actionable ways to manage and mitigate the intensity of postpartum rage. From self-care rituals that soothe the soul to communication techniques that build bridges with loved ones, we're here to guide you through assembling your personalized toolkit for calm.

  • Understand your triggers. If you know getting 5 hours or less of sleep makes you extra grumpy, then say something. Tell the people around you, “Hey, I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night because of the baby. I need you to be patient. I’m tired and feel overwhelmed." Then remind yourself of this when you start to feel anger bubbling up inside. It can look like soothing self talk, “Be patient. You’re extra tired. Take your time.”

  • Interrupt the anger. When you feel like yourself ratcheting up, take a quick mental check in. Maybe it sounds something like this, “Hey, I’m really starting to get mad. I’m clenching my jaw, my fists are balled, and I’m holding my breath.” Use this check in as an opportunity to stop and take a slow, deep breath. If your body is tense, focus on relaxing each muscle starting from the head and working your way down to your toes. For example, tilt your neck forward and backward. Open and close your mouth to relax your jaw. Roll your shoulders backward and forwards. Bend down and touch your toes. Flex and stretch your fingers out. Continue checking in with each part of your body and relax any tension in your body.

  • Self-coaching. Another way to interrupt the anger is to talk yourself through a stressful moment. Say out loud, “I can do this. I can do this.” Now, this is a trick. Even if you feel like you can’t do it (make a bottle, diaper changes, etc.) saying the words gives your mind something to anchor onto. It’s a positive distraction. Even if you think you can’t do the task at hand, when you hear yourself say aloud, “I can do this”, you might start to think, “hey, maybe I CAN do this.”

  • Take a break. Sometimes the best way to feel better is to take a break. Ask a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor to watch the baby for 20-30 minutes. Take a walk around the block, take a shower, or drink a cup of tea. Don’t over think it - do anything that feels relaxing and rejuvenating in the moment.

  • Let go of expectations. Whatever the expectation is for that moment, event, activity, etc. that isn’t met, can generate lots of anxiety and anger. Sometimes letting go of the expectation can help. Maybe you planned to make dinner while the baby napped, but she woke up early. Or she had a blow out right before you walked out the door to go to a doctor's appointment. If there isn’t an expectation to be productive or there is understanding about setbacks, then you may be more accepting of the detour.

  • Ask for help. Who in your life can spend some time with the baby to give you a break? Can your Mom take the baby one afternoon a week? Can your neighbor babysit for two hours on a Saturday so you and your partner can go on a date? Is your niece looking for a job and she can be with the baby downstairs while you sit outside and drink a cup of coffee? There are different ways to take time for yourself and de-stress. Ask for what you need.

  • Get support. Support groups are a great way to connect with others going through the same thing you are. Consider the warmth and solidarity of our Postpartum Depression/New Parent Support Group at The Center for Growth. Here, you're not alone; we're committed to offering the guidance, support, and community you need.

In wrapping up our exploration of postpartum rage, it's crucial to recognize the power of reaching out and the strength found in vulnerability. If you've found yourself nodding along, feeling the echoes of your own experiences in the words shared, it may be time to open up a dialogue. The journey after giving birth is profoundly personal yet universally challenging, and no one should navigate it alone. Speaking with one of our clinicians about postpartum rage could be the first step toward understanding and managing these turbulent emotions. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and together, we can help you find your footing on this new path.

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