You’ve spent months planning the arrival of your baby. The delivery date can’t come soon enough. Excitement has you both on the edge of your seats, so you expect the arrival of your newborn to bring nothing but happiness and joy. Instead, after your baby is born, you and your partner fight more than ever.
On average, couples argue 40% more after having a baby, even if the relationship was solid before birth. When a party of two expands to a family of three, the nature of the couple’s relationship changes. Squabbles become an element of the postpartum experience.
To family and friends, a new addition is a blessing. To mothers and fathers, life does a 180. This is known as a “baby quake.” New parents are often spread too thin, becoming physically and emotionally spent. With more to do and less time to do it, tensions rise. Despite the arrival of a precious newborn, researchers have found new parents experience a significant drop in marital satisfaction.
Why do new parents tend to fight? Here are 7 common arguments between first time parents.
7 “Can you get the baby? I’m tired.”
It’s 3 a.m. The baby starts to cry. You’re completely wiped out, but your partner doesn’t move out of bed either. Sigh.
Newborns and lack of sleep are par for the course. But it’s not just less sack time that new parents face. Sleep becomes fragmented, taken in shifts. Since you never had to negotiate for sleep with each other before, it can become a surprise in your relationship. And since you’re both in need of a good night’s sleep, crankiness and fights are bound to occur. When you’re worn out and irritable, it’s just a matter of time.
It’s difficult to function when you’re exhausted. It’s even harder to take care of someone else when your energy is low. Studies show that when you experience sleep deprivation, you’re more likely to be negative, and hostile. Chronic fatigue can lead to postpartum depression. Mothers and fathers equally experience a significant level of fatigue after a baby is born. No one is going to win the “I’m more tired” argument.
This fight will only push you two further apart.
Sleep is vital, so do whatever you need to do to go to bed earlier. Before falling to sleep, decide who will wake up for overnight feedings. It’s easier to assign a whole night to one person instead of taking turns. Keep the baby monitor closest to the parent who is on night duty.
Another option to consider is bringing the baby into your bedroom. If the baby sleeps in a bassinet beside your bed, you can respond immediately. The faster you respond, the quicker you and the baby can get back to sleep.
If you both are in desperate need for a break, accept help from family and friends. Your loved ones will understand that you need to catch up on sleep because you feel drained. Seeking a babysitter for one night is a reasonable request. There’s no need to feel guilty because you ask for help. Ultimately, it’s your health and happiness that’s at stake.
A few more hours of sleep can make a huge difference.
Naturally, no one expects postpartum sleep to be filled with quiet nights without interruption. Parenthood is full of sacrifices, and sleep is one of them. But in the grand scheme of infancy, sleepless nights are a limited period of time. Your baby will sleep for 6 to 8 hours straight, usually around 4 months of age, give or take.This stage will last a few short months, and your baby will eventually sleep through the night.
In the meantime, hang in there. Parenthood is tough enough, but assuming this task with very little sleep is extremely challenging. The more you and your partner work together, the easier it will be.
6 “This is family time, not (insert electronic device here) time.”
Electronic gadgets have become everyday attachments in our lives. Cell phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers are helpful resources. Still, they’re distractions to the people who are right in front of your face.
How many times have you seen a parent walking with a child, yet they are not talking because the parent is on a cell phone? Or picture the family in a restaurant that should be having a special night together. Instead, they are disconnected in silence because they are in their own electronic worlds. Sadly, these are all too familiar sights.
If you’re using your cell phone during dinner, you are not a part of the family dynamic.
Physically, you are at the table, but emotionally, you are missing. This may become a habit you later regret. Eventually, your child will copy your actions by bringing their gadgets to the dinner table. Rather than a family who communicates, you’ll have individuals who occupy their time with electronic devices.
In 2012, researchers from the University of Essex found that people did not connect as well if their cell phones were in view. The subjects didn’t even check their phones, but the mere presence of the device made people less invested in meaningful conversations.
It’s important to share time that is solely reserved for family interaction. Now that you’re a parent, you don’t have to dedicate every moment to your newborn, but being present requires a face-to-face connection. Instead of huddling over a smart phone, unplug as much as possible. Screen addictions can take a toll on your relationships.
The bright screen can inhibit your natural sleep rhythm
Plus, studies suggest that staring at the bright screen of a cell phone, tablet, or laptop before bed is disruptive to your sleep. There’s a direct correlation between the brightness level on your device and the lack of melatonin released in your body.
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in your brain. This hormone regulates sleep, but the bright lights of electronic screens and monitors inhibit its release. Putting your gadgets away will not only keep you connected to your family, but also help you get solid sack time.
5 “Can you help me, please?”
A 2012 study surveyed expecting moms and dads. Interviewers asked couples what role they thought their partners would play after delivery. The study revealed that most couples had unrealistic expectations.
Mothers were surprised that fathers didn’t contribute as much as they expected. Fathers were surprised that mothers did more work than they expected. Mothers were unhappy that their partners don’t help equally with childcare. Fathers only seemed to mind that mothers spent more time with their babies, and less time with them.
There is no doubt that the demands of parenthood can wear thin. Around the clock childcare is a full time job. If you’re the stay-at-home parent, you can’t leave the baby for a minute. Taking a shower, which was once a simple task, becomes something a parent really appreciates. This can only be done when another adult is there. Then there’s cooking, cleaning, and paying bills which require overtime.
If you work outside of the home, sleepless nights become stressful days.
Children require money, and support. These new responsibilities can become overwhelming. Whether you work from home, or away from home, a newborn is a big deal for both parents. Start an agreement to share the workload as much as possible. Feedings, diaper changes, and all other baby duties need to be split. Make a to-do list, and post it on the fridge where you can see what needs to be done.
Dads, if you don’t know how to change a diaper, search for a how-to video on the internet. Figure it out on your own. New mothers don’t have a secret baby manual stashed in the house, so don’t ask her what to do every time you assume a new task.
Moms, take the edge off of the situation by giving yourself and your partner a break. Don’t worry about dinner. Open a can of soup, eat cereal, or order a pizza. The dirty dishes can wait, too. The responsibility of family and home life rests on both of your shoulders. Everyone wins when parents cooperate.
4 “She never wants to have sex.”
You walk into the hospital as a duo, and come out as a trio. As you adapt into your new roles as mother and father, you realize there is less time to spend as a couple.In comes children, and out goes unlimited romantic time.
Romance after pregnancy tends to take a back seat. In fact, large numbers of marriages fail after childbirth. Relationships tend to collapse within 18 months after the birth of a baby. The breakdown in marriage has much to do with the lack of sex.
Some dads resent that their partners are always tired, and never in the mood. Sex is suddenly on the back burner, and men feel more like sperm donors than husbands and fathers. It’s no secret that sex slows down after childbirth, but there are many reasons why women lose their libido.
Exhaustion is a major factor. By the time baby is put to bed, moms crash hard. Also, a woman’s body secretes high levels of prolactin while breastfeeding. This hormone helps her produce milk. It also decreases her desire for sex.
The first few months of parenthood are exhausting and take a toll physically
Another factor for reduced sex drive is the physical toll the delivery takes on the body: bleeding and discharge continue for weeks; the cervix needs to close; stitches, hemorrhoids, and vaginal soreness need time to mend.
The general rule is to wait at least 4 to 6 weeks before resuming sexual intercourse. Some women are ready within this time frame, while others need months of recovery. And since her body has transformed, she might not feel as sexy as she once did.
It’s unfortunate that fathers feel rejected and lonely when mothers become all consumed with their babies. Many fathers find that their emotional needs are sacrificed after having a baby. They spend less time with their wives, and wonder whether they will ever have sex again. Some dads feel they have gained a child, but temporarily lost their wives, and their best friends.
The relationship suddenly flips from lovers to roommates.
Moms do not intend to make their partners miserable, but intimacy is not high on the priority scale for her at this moment. Sex may become a serious issue in a relationship, and couples need to prepare for that. Your romantic connection will change, but that doesn’t mean your love life is over. It just means you have to adjust to a new phase in your lives.
Start slow by holding hands, hugging, cuddling, and kissing. Let your partner know what is pleasurable and what’s not. Focus on each other, and keep talking. This is how your relationship will flourish into a new realm.
3 “Where have you been?”
They say a woman feels maternal at the beginning of her pregnancy. A man feels paternal when he sees his newborn. Moms usually fall in love instantly with their kids, whereas men bond with children gradually. Perhaps this is why it takes longer for fathers to adjust to their babies. The birth of a baby is a huge culture shock for most new parents. You become more homebound, and you may feel like your life is no longer your own.
Newborns require loads of attention, and mothers will occupy most of their time. For the most part, dad will be watching from the sidelines, spending far less one-on-one quality time with both mother and child. Stress and a whirlwind of activity can lead to burnout.
Husbands appreciate that their wives cherish their children, but not at the dad’s expense.If a man’s needs are not met in the relationship, he may find appreciation outside of the home. Feeling forced out, he may work longer hours, hang out with the guys, or choose to spend time in the company of other women.
Both partners need to feel appreciated and loved
If your partner is spending less time at home, this could be the start of a serious problem. By withdrawing from the family, he could be feeling consumed with the pressures of his financial responsibility. Maybe he feels useless at home. Dads expect their child to bring them closer to their partners, and when they drift apart, it’s very disappointing.
Most people do not realize that men can suffer postpartum depression.Often, they do not talk to their partners about how they are feeling. After all, it’s their wife who just had a baby. Husbands don’t want to appear weak and needy.
Being a mother is a 24/7 job. It’s frustrating when your partner isn’t there to help, but try not to attack. Find out the real issue by being patient and loving. Tell your partner that he is appreciated, and missed. It’s important to get these concerns out into the open sooner than later. If these issues are left unsaid, relationships can break down quickly. And if there is a family history of depression, talk to a mental health professional as soon as possible.
2 “The baby wants you.”
Babies tend to be mother-centric. Because of the maternal bond that starts in the uterus, it is common for dads to feel like the odd man out.
For nine months, the baby listens to their mother’s voice and heartbeat. They also learn language patterns, and share emotions. From the start, there is a stronger bond with the mother that often leaves dad feeling out in the cold. If a baby prefers to be with mom, that’s when dads can feel rejected. Even worse, fathers will start to doubt their parenting abilities.
Fathers are a key component to the family dynamic, and they should realize how big their role is early on.
Dad, try not to take it personally. It’s natural for newborns to prefer their mothers because moms are a food source. Babies pick up the scent of their breast milk.
There is something to be said about mother’s intuition. Most mothers have a nurturing primal instinct. That doesn’t mean mothers know more than fathers. All that is happening is that mothers spend more time with their babies, so they become more attuned to their needs.
Take heed, dad, when baby cries, don’t hand him back to mom. Try to soothe baby’s tears by singing. Give your baby a bottle, and then dance, or rock gently. In time, your baby will learn that comfort doesn’t only come from mom.
1 “What do you do all day?”
Taking care of a newborn is one of the hardest jobs a person will ever tackle. To be 100% responsible for a delicate, wrinkled human being can be exhausting.
Some men expect to completely relax after 8 hours of work. They believe that if you stay home, the baby sleeps all day, so you have more than enough time to finish all of the chores. While it is true that newborns sleep up to 16 hours a day, they only sleep 1 to 2 hours straight.
If mom sleeps when the baby sleeps, she’ll get some rest, but there will be lots to do around the house. If she cooks and cleans while the baby is sleeping, she’ll feel depleted by the time her partner gets home. She has taken care of a newborn baby all day. When you get home, she will probably expect a little relief.
If you’re a father who feels left out, now is the time when your participation is more important than ever.
For the first few months, guys need to be strong by stepping up to fill in the gaps. If you feel like a third wheel, become more involved. Check in at lunch to say you’re leaving work early to pick up take out for dinner. Eat together as a family, and then take the baby for a walk. Upon returning home, have some play time with your newborn, before getting the little one bathed and ready for bed. If your partner says she doesn’t mind, insist that she take a nap.
A mother is proud when she sees her partner being a good father, so don’t wait to be asked to help out. Assume responsibility to care for the baby whenever you can. By supporting your child, you lovingly support your partner.