When I was pregnant with my son, one of my best friends told my husband and I to prepare for the inevitable hormones, sleep deprivation, and post-childbirth disagreements. She explained how my hormones would drop just days after the pregnancy and, as a result, I might be depressed or angry or anxious. She told me how she lashed out at her husband in those early postpartum days, and how frustrating parenting with a partner could be. Yeah, she was right. There are some fights all new-parent couples have, and arguments that seem monumental but are usually just the result of poor eating and sleeping habits.
The first few days and weeks of postpartum life and brand new parenting can be tough, especially if you're unaware and unprepared. Babies don’t necessarily come with off switches or manuals, so they constantly cry for every single thing they need or want (or both). You and your partner might respond to those needs and wants differently, causing an unnecessary but very real strain on an already tested relationship. You’ll be stretched thin to the point of exhaustion, only to be pulled and stretched some more.
In my experience, it doesn't necessarily matter where you parent those first few days (or weeks, or months) either. You might be parenting comfortably at home, or at the hospital’s NICU (like my partner and I). You might be close to your family and, in turn your support system, or you might be far away from anyone resembling family and, for all intents and purposes, on your own. Your co-parent might need to return to work immediately (or vice versa), or there might be a necessary (or decided) change in career plans and/or work situations that creates an entirely new level of stress, anxiety, and even (perhaps) resentment. Sound scary? I know, it's a lot, but if you keep the communication channels clear, continually check in with one another, and remember that you're both doing your best, the following arguments won't be a blip on your parenting radar. I promise.
You’ll Fight Over Who Gets To Shower Today
Save for extreme circumstances, your personal hygiene will never be poorer than in those first days of parenthood. You’ll be dying to brush your teeth and shower and put on deodorant every waking second, but your child’s and partner’s demands will usually overshadow that very-real need. As such, there will be daily fights about who finally gets to wash the filth off their body.
You'll Fight Over Who Changed The Baby Last
Honestly, changing diapers isn’t terrible in those first days. Then again, maybe I just lucked out since I didn’t deal with getting peed or pooped on as frequently as a few too many friends of mind. Either way, the novelty will wear out after about a week (or roughly 500 diapers later).
You'll Fight Over How The Hell You Even Change The Baby
You might have disagreements on the best way to change your baby, too. Everyone’s got their own technique, to be sure, but parenthood often causes us to start parenting each other as well. My suggestion is to let the other parents do it their way. Your partner changing your kid's diaper in a way that isn't exactly the same as yours isn't the end of the world. Arguing about it, however, just might be.
You'll Fight Over Who Fed The Baby Last
If you’re bottle-feeding your child, there will be the option of sharing meal responsibilities. This can be a nice change of pace for parents who are breastfeeding exclusively, but sometimes a partner will want to shirk these tasks as well. Too bad the infant can’t keep score.
You'll Fight Over The Temperature Of The Bottle
One way to check the temperature of a bottle is by using your wrist to catch a few drops of breast milk or formula. Still, other parents may have different methods they prefer.
Some parents might want to feed their babies cold bottles while others swear that warm is best. At the end of the day, none of it matters so long as it’s at a temperature that won’t hurt the baby (meaning frozen or scalding).
You'll Argue Over Who Washed The Bottles Last
One of the drawbacks of bottle-feeding is having to actually wash the bottles. Depending on your bottle brand, you might have an obnoxious amount of tiny parts to your bottle that will require careful washing and sterilizing. Add the need to mix formula or wash breast pump parts and it’s surprising more couples don’t break up within the first day or two of a baby’s life.
You'll Fight Over The Temperature Of The Baby's Bath
My husband tends to enjoy really hot showers, whereas I prefer mine to be lukewarm or almost cold. We always end up making our son’s bath hotter or colder than the other would prefer. The only thing that’s kept these particularly "heated" conversations within reason is using one of those plastic duckies that tell you if the water is at too extreme a temperature.
You’ll Fight About How Quickly To Pick Up The Baby When They’re Crying
Some parents might think they’re doing their children a favor by allowing them to cry a bit. Others feel it’s important to answer your child’s cries immediately. If you differ in parenting style, you’ll no doubt have a few choices words for one another.
You'll Fight Over Whether To Pick Up The Baby At All
There’s nothing more frustrating than when you’ve struggled to get your baby to sleep, only to have your partner come alone wanting to pick up the baby. No, nope, nah, hell no, and all the absolutely nots. Touch that baby and you will have me to answer to.
You'll Fight Over Who's Getting More Sleep
Jealousy over sleep is probably the number one biggest cause for argument between new parents. The sleep deprivation that occurs when one has to wake up every two or three hours, for weeks at a time is nothing short of a cruel experiment on Mother Nature's part. But let’s be honest, neither of you are getting enough sleep and your time arguing would be better spent napping.
You'll Fight Over Who Should Be Doing Laundry
Laundry also sucks as a new parent (double if you happen to be cloth diapering).
You might put in a load and forget it and wash it five times over, then your partner might do another. You might forget who put in the last load. Confusion will create the chaos that will cause arguments, but you’ll get through it. Promise.
In Other Words, You'll Fight About Everything (But Then Your Baby Will Do Something Cute And All Will Be OK)
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter why you fight in that first month. Unless there are some serious outside circumstances (domestic abuse, gaslighting, cheating, problems with addiction, etc.), you’ll probably get through it all. It might seem awful and difficult at times, but those cute little coos and baby snuggles always make up for it.