You’ve likely heard of postpartum depression, but it pales in comparison to the often ignored … [+] symptom of “postpartum rage.”

“Y’all… imagine what would happen if she didn’t do this,” replied another.

These were just two of the tens of thousands of comments left on the currently trending TikTok of a young mother aggressively throwing ice into her bathtub. “My biggest struggle as a new mom is my anger,” she stated. She then went on to explain how tossing the ice as hard as possible—while watching it smash and shatter—effectively satisfied her newfound “need to destruct.”

The atmosphere of the TikTok’s comment section seems to be neatly split down the middle—with people on one side supporting the mother’s cathartic outlet, and the other filled with people concerned for her and her child’s well-being.

The polarity of viewers’ feelings aside, this TikTok sheds light on an often unspoken reality for many new mothers: postpartum rage. These intense feelings of anger and destruction can be difficult to cope with, and even harder to discuss. This TikTok has sparked a broader conversation about how new parents manage these overwhelming emotions—and whether this approach is part of the solution, or a sign of deeper issues.

According to research from the International Journal of Public Health Science, postpartum rage is defined as an emotional state that can occur in young mothers after giving birth. It involves intense anger, often accompanied by aggressive verbal and physical behaviors. This rage can lead to various negative emotions, such as fear, disappointment and anxiety.

Moreover, this rage is also associated with a host of other symptoms—including insomnia, depression, delusions, sudden crying, stress, loneliness and an inability to control emotions. These intense reactions can be incredibly confusing and distressing, as they starkly juxtapose many new mothers’ expectations of experiencing the “joy of motherhood.” This unmet expectation, paired with the inexplicable anger, can have a highly detrimental impact on their well-being and relationships.

Despite the significant impact that postpartum rage can have on new mothers, research from Psychology of Women Quarterly explains that it’s remarkably understudied. The authors partly attribute this lack of focus to how female emotions have been historically misrepresented in psychology. Women are often depicted as inwardly focused, depressed and ineffectual when responding to negative experiences.

The depiction of women in psychological literature tends to focus on depression, often completely ignoring other emotional responses like anger. This tendency could be influenced by lingering stereotypes about how women “should” react, with anger seen as unusual or inappropriate. Because most studies on female rage focus on clinically depressed or anxious participants, there’s been severely limited explorations of anger itself and its distinct triggers and implications.

Yet, despite the scarcity of research, the study’s findings indicate that postpartum rage is not a rare phenomenon. A considerable number of women experience angry feelings around six weeks postpartum, with the results showing that 35% of women report moderate to high levels of anger during this time.

Notably, many women who experienced high levels of postpartum rage reported low anger levels before childbirth, suggesting that specific events or changes during the postpartum period may contribute to the sudden emergence of intense anger. This further emphasizes the importance of understanding and recognizing the factors leading to postpartum rage—especially since 11% of women in the study reported high levels of depressive symptomatology, indicating the potential overlap and complexity of postpartum emotional responses.

Further research from the International Journal of Public Health Science points out the significant risks that unchecked postpartum can pose to both mothers and their children. This intense anger often emerges within 12 months of childbirth, typically peaking around six weeks postpartum—a period where new families are exhausted from parenthood, and when babies are still very young, defenseless and impressionable.

Mothers experiencing this rage often have rapid mood swings, deep loneliness, depression and a sense of hopelessness, which can provoke thoughts of harming themselves or their babies. The connection between postpartum rage and postpartum depression is also well-documented, which indicates the potential for a cascading effect. When left unmanaged, the overwhelming feelings of rage can lead to emotional and physical harm for both mom, baby and the rest of the family. In extreme cases, postpartum rage can result in shaken baby syndrome, or even more tragic outcomes.

Given these serious risks, it is crucial for mothers experiencing postpartum rage to find healthy outlets for their emotions. For example:

Finding a healthy outlet for postpartum rage isn’t just a good idea; it’s essential for a mother’s well-being and her family’s safety. Even if the methods seem unorthodox, if it helps the mother feel better and doesn’t harm anyone, it’s a positive step. The key is to ensure the baby is safe while the mother finds her release. Ultimately, letting out rage in a way that feels satisfying and doesn’t risk harm is perhaps the healthiest way to release the intense emotions that can come with new parenthood—even if it looks a bit frightening from the outside.

Do you find your parental duties to be more draining than fulfilling? Take the Parental Burnout Assessment to know if you need professional help.

One Community. Many Voices. Create a free account to share your thoughts.

Our community is about connecting people through open and thoughtful conversations. We want our readers to share their views and exchange ideas and facts in a safe space.

In order to do so, please follow the posting rules in our site’s Terms of Service.  We’ve summarized some of those key rules below. Simply put, keep it civil.

User accounts will be blocked if we notice or believe that users are engaged in:

Thanks for reading our community guidelines. Please read the full list of posting rules found in our site’s Terms of Service.

By admin