Anger After Baby: The One Feeling that No One Wants to Talk About

Postpartum Anger | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Postpartum Anger | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services




These are not the typical emotions we think of when we think of having a baby.  But they happen. They can actually happen for many women.  But no one is talking about it, and for lots of good reasons.  We don’t want to be judged. We feel that we’re doing something wrong. We’re scared that someone will call child services on us if we admit just how angry we are. We have no idea what is happening to us and it is so freaking scary.


There may be many reasons why you are feeling angry.

1)      Lack of sleep.  Having a baby automatically means that you are getting way less sleep than you need, every night for months on end. When we are tired we are much more likely to feel irritable, especially when we know there’s no end in sight to the sleeplessness.  There may be a few ways to get additional sleep, like sleeping when the baby sleeps or having a partner get up with the baby. However, sometimes it can be so hard to actually implement these strategies depending on your circumstances. Make sleep as much of a priority as you can.

2)      Lack of control. Many of the women that I work with in my London, Ontario counselling practice who struggle with anger eventually fess up to one common trait; they like to have control. Pre-baby, they had plans and expectations for their lives. Usually they were able to make things happen when they wanted them to.  Know a good way of messing that up? Have a baby.  A baby doesn’t care that you have a plan. Sometimes it feels like your baby is actually messing up with your plan on purpose. You’re looking forward to naptime because that is the one chance that you get to sit down and just veg. Your baby has napped at this specific time for weeks. It is the highlight of your day. Boom, your baby is awake, crying and in no mood for a nap today.  Hello, anger.

3)      Lack of support. After the initial wave of visitors quiets down, having a baby can be quite isolating. Your normal routine is turned upside down, making it difficult to see friends. Going on maternity leave usually means no longer seeing co-workers. It can be really lonely, which then can turn into frustration. Why didn’t anyone tell me that it was going to be like this? Why does my partner get to leave the house everyday and leave me here, all alone? We can start to feel isolated which can lead to anger.

4)      Lack of self-care. When you have had a baby, there may be both limited times and resources for things that you previously did as a way to re-energize.  You are busy feeding, changing, swaddling, burping, soothing and keeping this other human being alive. Who has time for a yoga class?

5)      Lack of your pre-baby identity. During my maternity leave, I would sometimes look in the mirror and be stunned at what I saw. Looking back at me, was this tired, disheveled woman, often wearing a black, spit-up encrusted hoodie.  It was hard to imagine that underneath all that still existed the wife, friend, psychologist and much better groomed version of myself.  This can be enraging. We work so hard to create a life that works for us, and having a baby can make it feel like it’s all been lost (or at least hidden really well).

While anger can be common and very understandable, we don’t want to be consumed by the anger. It can make us feel so guilty and bad about ourselves. It can steal the joy from a really amazing transition. Sometimes anger can be a symptom of postpartum depression. If you feel that the anger is there too often, or it feels really intense, or it’s impacting your ability to bond your with your baby, please reach out.  Let’s tackle the anger head on.

A Grief Like No Other: Surviving Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Grief Loss Miscarriage | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Grief Loss Miscarriage | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Your period is late.  You feel a little off, maybe a bit nauseous or you’re running to the bathroom all the time.  Something is up.  You go to the drugstore, pick up a pregnancy test and chug a litre of water.  You pee on the stick and then you wait.  Whether you were trying to get pregnant or this is a bit of a surprise, you feel an overwhelming wave of emotion that comes over you as the positive symbol appears on the test.  It’s official, you are pregnant.  If things go according to plan, in the next nine months (plus or minus a few weeks), there will be a new addition to your family.  You may start envisioning what your baby will look like.  You may start making plans around the due date.  You may buy a pregnancy book, or sign up for pregnancy update e-mails, or buy a cute onesie as a way of telling your partner.  The baby has already become a part of your life.

Unfortunately, for many women, things do not always go according to plan.

All too often, women will experience the horrifying knowledge that they are no longer pregnant and their baby is lost to them.  The pain of the loss is often compounded by the general silence around the experience of pregnancy and infant loss.  Society does not want to talk about it.  There is an unspoken code of silence that exists.   Women are left to suffer in silence, for fear of making others uncomfortable.  However, these losses are very real and deserve to be grieved.

If you were only a few weeks pregnant, you deserve to grieve.

If you had to make the devastating decision to terminate a pregnancy due to a medical condition, you deserve to grieve.

If you had a stillbirth and only held your infant for a few brief moments, you deserve to grieve.

If you have lost your baby, at any stage, in any manner, you deserve to grieve.

Grief can come in many forms.   You may want to wear a piece of jewelry that symbolizes your baby.  You may want to acknowledge your child’s birthday or the date of their loss each year.  You may need to spend some time away with your partner. There is no wrong or right way to grieve; you need to do what works for you.  The most important thing is to acknowledge how you are feelings; do not try to minimize, avoid or shame yourself out of your feelings.  Be prepared for the grief to come in waves.  It may be months or years since your loss, but the intensity of your grief may be triggered by an anniversary, a song, the cry of a new baby.  While the grief may become less intense, more tolerable, there may always be a sense of loss.

One of the most powerful healers can be talking about your loss.  Many women who have experienced a loss, such as miscarriage, find that talking will often open up a floodgate of women who have experienced something similar and are desperate to talk about it.  Considering that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage there is a good chance that someone you know has had a loss.  Today, October 15 is Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Day.  Reach out.  Grieve your loss.  You are not alone in this.

10 Things to Know About Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum Depression | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Postpartum Depression | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

  1. Anxiety can begin during pregnancy, the perinatal period, in addition to after birth.  You may start feeling anxiety symptoms up to 12 months after birth.
  1. Anxiety symptoms can be physical; heart racing, feeling flushed and sweaty, tightness in chest, difficulties with sleeping.  You might feel revved up all the time, like you want to jump out of your own skin.  Sitting still feels impossible.
  1. Anxiety symptoms can be experienced in our mind; worrying about all sorts of things, imagining the worst case scenario, second guessing yourself, feeling unable to make a decision.  You might be having constant racing thoughts about whether you are capable of taking care of a baby, whether you are doing things the "right" way, imagining all of the possible consequences of every decision.  Your brain feels like it's on overload.
  1. Anxiety can impact our behaviour; you may avoid situations that provoke anxiety, repetitively do a task, constantly check things.  You may spend hours perfectly folding wash cloths, stacking diapers into equally distributed piles, checking the oven repetitively to make sure it's not on.  Doing these behaviours may calm the anxiety for a brief period of time, but the anxiety always returns.
  1. You might have very upsetting, disturbing thoughts ("what if I smothered my baby with a blanket").  You know that you would never act on the thought, but the thought seems to pop out of nowhere and is very upsetting.  These are called intrusive thoughts and can be quite common (but obviously very distressing).
  1. You may try to control your environment to cope with anxiety; cleaning and organizing things while the baby sleeps (even though you are on the brink of exhaustion).
  1. You may feel very anxious about being alone with your baby.  You are not sure if you can take care of your baby, get overwhelmed when the baby is crying and feel like you're never doing anything right.
  1. You may avoid going out of the house because you're worried that the baby might cry in public, or you're not sure how you're going to manage to feed your baby or you're overwhelmed with the idea of interacting with other people.  However, staying at home may also be challenging as you may feel trapped.
  1. Perinatal and postpartum anxiety is not limited to first-time moms.  Even if you have had previous experiences with a baby, you may still develop anxiety.  Anxiety is not about lacking skills in caring for a baby, it is an emotional reaction.There are treatment options available, including therapy, medications or a combination of both.  Please reach out to a healthcare provider if you feel that you are experiencing anxiety symptoms.  While all new moms will experience some level of worries and anxieties, if you are feeling anxious all the time and it is interfering with your ability to enjoy this time of your life, please reach out.

10.  There are treatment options available, including therapy, medications or a combination of both.  Please reach out to a healthcare provider if you feel that you are experiencing anxiety symptoms.  While all new moms will experience some level of worries and anxieties, if you are feeling anxious all the time and it is interfering with your ability to enjoy this time of your life, please reach out.

10 Things to Know about Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Postpartum Depression | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Here are some things you should know about postpartum depression.

1.  Depression can actually begin during pregnancy (the perinatal period) and not just after birth.

2.  One of the strongest predictors of postpartum depression is previous episodes of depression.

3.  While some women experience feelings of sadness, other women report an absence of feelings (feeling "blah" and disconnected) or even intense anger.

4.  Other symptoms of postpartum depression include difficulties sleeping or sleeping more than often, changes in appetite, feeling guilty about how you are feeling, feeling like things will never get better, difficulties bonding with your baby, feeling disconnected from others.

5.  While it is normal to feel all of these feelings after having a child, during postpartum depression the feelings are severe, last longer than 2 weeks and you experience them the majority of the time.

6.  Postpartum depression is one of the most common complications of childbirth.

7. Media coverage of mothers who hurt themselves or their babies often confuse postpartum depression with postpartum psychosis, which is a very rare disorder that includes symptoms like hearing or seeing things that others do not see, feeling like you are being controlled by something or someone and feeling driven to hurt yourself or your child.  If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is essential to present to the emergency department immediately.

8.  Having postpartum depression does not mean that you don't want or love your child.

9.  Postpartum depression affects approximately 15% of all mothers.

10.  Postpartum depression is treatable, either through therapy, medication, or a combination of both.  You do not have to feel like this.