First-time parents argue 40 per cent more after their child is born, according to counselling organisation Relate.
I can tell you, that figure sounds a little conservative to me!
After our first child arrived we argued about all manner of things, but of course it was being tired and who was more tired that was our number one thing to disagree over (to put it mildly).
Adding a baby into a couple changes the dynamics, because you’re not thinking about yourself and your partner any more. Most of your worry, care and consideration will be reserved for the baby, leaving not much to spare for each other. Feeling overwhelmed by this life-changing event doesn’t help matters either.
So I thought I would share the seven things you are likely to argue with your partner about after welcoming a baby, and how to keep the peace:
1. Breast vs bottle
The general consensus in most sensible homes is fed is best. If mum wants to give breastfeeding a try then a supportive partner will be in her corner cheering her on.
But what if mum is having a hard day of it? The baby has been up all night feeding, her nipples are raw and she’s absolutely exhausted.
When dad sees mum crying, his instinct is to fix whatever is upsetting her. So he may suggest a bottle to give her a break, as he only wants to help.
Sometimes mum interprets this as being pressure to stop breastfeeding and a row breaks out over the pros and cons of breastfeeding vs everyone’s sanity.
If a mum wants to breastfeed she’s going to need loads of moral support through the hard days, which actually do not go on forever. On the other hand, giving a bottle of expressed milk or formula so that you can get some sleep is NOT the end of the world.
Talk about how you want to feed the baby when you’re both reasonably rested and calm. Dads need to take the lead from mums here, but mamas you don’t have to push yourself to your misery limit. If supplementing with or switching to formula would help you all as a family, then do it.
Dads, breastfeeding does get easier. Help out where you can, by changing nappies and taking baby for a walk.
2. Household chores
Depending on the dynamic of your relationship, there tends to be one partner who does most of the grunt work when it comes to keeping the house clean and tidy.
When a baby comes along and takes up ALL of mum’s time, this may lead to rows over who is pulling their weight and why there aren’t any clean mugs.
The best way to deal with this is for the person who was doing most of the grunt work to write down what needs doing and leave it out as a checklist for their other half to get it done.
Notice that I have deliberately not referred to he or she during this particular section!
There’s a reason why there’s a spike in divorces after Christmas. Apart from the stress of handling drunk and obnoxious family members, it’s because people’s money woes tend to be far worse after the enormous expense of the festive season.
Babies cost money. It can’t be avoided. And as one partner will be off work for at least a few weeks after the baby has arrived, it means that less money is coming in.
The decision on whether to return to work after having a baby is such a tricky one, as emotionally mums may feel they want more than just one year with their child before going back to work.
When emotion and money clash, it inevitably leads to upset and arguments.
The best way to get through this is to sit down and look at all of your finances. Write down your income and outgoings. If mum wants to quit work, or go part-time, work out how this would impact on you and where savings can be made. If you work together, you can find a solution that works for you as a family.
While dad might be dead excited to share the new baby off to everyone he knows, and the postman, mum might want to draw the line at parents and siblings.
There will be a lot of people who want to come and see the baby, and some who want to come and see the baby all day, every day.
This is where mum gets to dictate how things work, because she’s the one who just pushed a baby out of her vagina. It gives her absolute privilege to ban whoever she wants from the house for at least the first six to eight weeks.
If mum is feeling overwhelmed by too many visitors, then she needs to be supported by dad who should be managing the visitors and how long they stay for.
You don’t have to be rude, but if too many people are coming over, or are staying for too long, maybe suggest that you both need a few days of peace and quiet to bond with the baby.
5. Other people’s advice
You love the stuff that Aunt Mabel comes out with about baby care, because you think it’s hilarious. Your other half might actually think it’s something worth listening to.
When it comes to advice, this is where families can clash. Everyone has a different way of raising their baby, so your mum’s advice may differ from your mother-in-law’s advice.
The best thing to do is to listen to everyone, because they’re only trying to help, and then do whatever YOU want to do.
If you’re struggling to agree on one particular thing, then give it a try for a few days and see if it works for you. If one of you is dead against something, then the other needs to respect that.
Even the strongest of couples will disagree about the best way to do things when it comes to a new baby. There are some areas you will need to compromise on, and others where you need to respect your partner has strong wishes on the subject. Remember you’re both parents and both deserve to have a say.
6. The lack of romance
When you’re both so tired you can hardly keep your eyes open, a romantic meal followed by an early night are the last things on your mind. Unless by romantic you mean takeaway and by an early night you mean going to bed to actually sleep.
One or both of you may feel neglected and that your relationship has suffered since your twosome became a threesome.
Remember that having a baby is bloody hard, but it has to be your main focus right now. You can make time for each other, but it just won’t be as often as you may like. Try to set aside an evening a week, or every fortnight if you’re struggling, to sit down and enjoy each other’s company.
Watch a film, cook a nice meal and have a proper conversation. Once your baby is older and you’re ready for a night out, try to get a babysitter every now and then – a night out works wonders!
The first year is the hardest in many ways, because you’re adjusting to being a parent. Things may not go back to exactly how they were before having a baby, but you will find more time for each other as your little one grows.
7. Who is more tired
This is the ultimate new parent argument. No one is the winner here, and if they are the winner then they’re actually the loser, because they’re so bloody tired.
I remember how much it irritated me when my husband complained about being tired during our youngest’s first year. I was the one getting up and feeding her, but he was being woken up so would lie awake unable to get back to sleep.
My argument was I was having to physically care for the child, which was way harder than lying in bed and staring at the ceiling. While I still think this is the case, it’s such a futile thing to argue over.
The fact is that any lost sleep is going to leave you feeling rubbish. Both of your sleep patterns are going to be disturbed by the new arrival, and even if one of you is doing more night shifts than the other, it doesn’t mean you can’t both complain about how knackering it is.
Try to avoid comparing notes on who is more tired. It’s an argument that neither of you will win. Instead, take it in turns to have naps wherever possible and count to 10 when your patience is stretched to its limit.
So those are my tips about the things new parents argue about. Did I miss any out?