Anger in Motherhood - Postpartum Rage
Anger in Motherhood - Postpartum Rage
Guest Post by: Jennifer Hammer
I can remember clearly thinking that I had never yelled so much since becoming a mother. It would be the most little things too, something that I may have normally shrugged off triggered an intense anger that I couldn’t control or recognize until I had already reacted. I felt so disconnected from my body. Anger almost seemed to be too gentle of a word to describe what was coming out of me. And then I heard the words ‘Postpartum Rage’. Rage; intense, overwhelming, out of control, extreme, consuming. It resonated so deeply with me. In fact, anger and rage are much more common that we think but because so many mothers don’t feel safe enough to talk about it, it gets very little attention.
It is important to know that rage can be a symptom of perinatal mood disorders and there are treatments available. If you think you have other symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety and are experiencing rage and anger, please reach out to a maternal mental health professional in your local area. Rage is often unexpected, it creeps up from nowhere and before you know it you’ve exploded. Most mothers will describe their feelings of rage as completely losing control over their reactions. Rage is typically followed by feelings of guilt, shame and secrecy. Often, anger is the go-to response when we feel threatened. Threats can vary from anything such as being hurt, scared, and having our boundaries pushed and violated. Anger and motherhood is complex; it’s often multi-layered and rooted deep within us. Modern motherhood is hard, and as we are becoming more isolated we are also more disconnected from our bodies. The physical and emotional demands of motherhood leave very little time and energy to attune to our own needs. In addition, many mothers find that the reality of motherhood and the supports they receive don’t live up to their expectations. Anger is a very normal emotion. It is your distress signal. Your body is alerting you to those other big, uncomfortable feelings you are trying to suppress. Described as a secondary emotion, anger is what is seen on the surface and easier to express as oppose to the more vulnerable feelings underneath. It’s the cover-up for overwhelm, feeling undervalued, disrespected, disappointed, offended, rejected, scared, offended, and grief. Carolyn Wagner states in her article on Motherly that “anger alerts 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.”
It is critical to identify first what triggers you so that you can put in place some supports, coping mechanisms and work to manage priorities around that. The most common triggers include noise, boundary violations, lack of sleep and support, clutter, over-scheduling, relationship stresses and identity adjustments. There may also be certain times of the day that can be more triggering. For example, many mothers notice that they experience more rage/anger between the hours of 2pm - 5pm - this is a time where noise often becomes too much, dinner preparations are getting started and it’s often just before the time when partners are returning home. It could be helpful to set up supports during this time like a visit or a phone call with a friend, quiet/nap time, or a doula/nanny to help with childcare.
In the book, Body Full of Stars by Molly Caro May, rage is described as an “energy you are meeting. An energy with a message, it wants you to listen. Energy cannot be destroyed, but rather it must be transformed. We are responsible for managing our anger and rage, but we are not necessarily IT.” I love that. When we experience anger or rage, it is a sign that our body is trying to tell us something important. Listen to your body. What does rage really feel like for you? What underlying emotions are really under all that anger, that you need to feel and process? Were you feeling disrespected or undervalued by your children, partner or someone else? What can you pull back on that you aren’t feeling a strong YES for? What areas in your life can you ask for help? Have you ever remained silent to avoid confrontation or being judged? Journaling and tracking episodes of anger and rage can be incredibly helpful in identifying what’s underneath. Perhaps there’s a pattern there that needs to be addressed? Sometimes just getting it down on paper and out of your head can be therapeutic. Effective communication tools can help when talking with your partner or loved ones about setting boundaries and addressing your needs. Implementing mindfulness practices and body scans are simple and easy ways to focus on the sensations going through your body when you feel angry. Speaking up for yourself and reaching out can be scary but it is worth every bit of the effort.
As Molly Caro May writes, “rage will cycle back, we can acknowledge it, welcome, feel and release it. When we love it, connect to it, we start to transform and heal.”
By: Jennifer Hammer from Sacred Nest
Jennifer Hammer is the owner of Sacred Nest, an amazing supportive community for women postpartum. Sacred Nest provides services to new parents for postpartum and breastfeeding support, as well as local Calgary meet-ups, walks and if you don’t already - make sure to follow Sacred Nest on Instagram or Facebook! Jennifer is genuine and the community she has created is truly setting a new standard for postpartum support.
Jennifer is a member of the Calgary Doula Association, a DONA Certified Postpartum Doula, a Certified Lactation Educator and a Stillbirthday Birth & Bereavement Doula. She is trained and certified with the Pacific Post Partum Support Society to facilitate groups and support moms who suffer with perinatal mood disorders.
One of the amazing workshops offered is a monthly Postpartum Rage Discussion Group for mother’s to have a safe and supportive space to talk about their experiences and gain tools and information to utilize at home. For more information and to sign up:
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