The Hidden Cause of Mom’s Annoyance 子育て中のママのパパへのイライラが止まらないのはなぜ?

Published on: November 15, 2019

Find yourself frequently annoyed at your partner after becoming new parents? Maybe it’s because your partner is too busy or because you have no helpers. But there’s also a physiological cause. Midwife Yukiyo shares tips on how moms and dads can deal with it.


By Yukiyo Tomie / Translated by Hanae Matsumura [日本語記事へ]  


As a midwife, I’ve met and talked with numerous expecting and postpartum mothers. Besides common anxieties about pregnancy, delivery, and baby care, one topic that comes up often among them is their annoyance with their partners.


You may have heard stories of how a couple’s relationship suddenly worsened after baby was born. One study[1] shows that by the time their child is 2 years old, 51.7% of dads and only 34.0% of moms feel love for their spouse on a daily basis, compared to 74.3% (both dads and moms) during pregnancy. Another study of single-mom families[2] shows that the largest group among them divorced before their youngest child reached 2 years of age.

It’s paradoxical that people have children to be happy but it can wreak havoc on the marital relationship. I can imagine many of you readers nodding in agreement.


The dark side of oxytocin

Why do so many couples face this difficulty right after childbirth, despite having a good relationship beforehand? Without a doubt, the psychological and physical stresses from the drastic lifestyle change after childbirth have a lot to do with it. But did you know that new mothers undergo a physiological change that makes them easily irritated than before?


From the moment she gives birth, a mother turns all her attention to protecting her baby. The key instigator of this natural tendency is oxytocin, a hormone secreted from the brain when a mother breastfeeds or holds the baby. This hormone generally works very well because it triggers affection and helps develop the parent-baby bond.  But oxytocin has a dark side too: it’s been shown that oxytocin is linked to greater aggressiveness and this reaction can be increased by discomfort or anxiety felt by the mother. 


As you can easily imagine, dad’s insufficient participation (being glued to the smartphone or lying on the sofa while the baby is crying, for example) or careless words like “Your breast milk may not be enough. Why don’t you try formula?” can trigger the by-effect of oxytocin.


Advice for dads

Living far from family and good friends and mom having to try hard to make new friends, dad is mom’s number-one supporter. Improving communication between the partners is the only remedy to alleviate mom’s aggressiveness. Dads, you don’t have to murmur special words of love or find a solution for mom’s complaints. Simply express your appreciation and be sympathetic to your partner. Saying “I understand what you feel” and “Thank you for your hard work” while rubbing her back should often do the trick.  Make the effort to communicate your support and your wife will no longer regard dad as a hostile figure for child-rearing. This should help alleviate her aggressive feelings.


Tips for moms

For moms, here are some tips for dealing with your feelings of anger. First of all, it is important to be aware of the physical changes that occur in the postpartum period. Remember that these changes are a natural function of your body and aren’t something you can control. Another tactic is finding friendship and support. Joining parents’ communities or getting acquainted with other moms with children of a similar age as your little one can help reduce your frustration. Making friends is well worth your effort! Keeping a happy relationship through the long journey with your partner — during and after the child-rearing period — is accomplished by small, daily efforts from both sides.



[1] and [2]: Sayaka Uchida and Kento Tsuboi, 産後クライシス (Postpartum Crisis), Poplar Publishing, 2013, pages 22, 23 and 31.  



By 冨江幸代  


私は、助産師として、また一主婦としてこれまでたくさんの妊娠中・産後のママたちと出会い、お話を伺ってきました。 そんな中で妊娠や出産・子育ての悩みや不安はもちろんですが、同時にパパへの不満、これも本当によく耳にします。


「産後クライシス」と言う言葉、どこかで一度は聞かれたことがあるかと思います。これは、「ママの出産後、急激に夫婦仲が悪くなる現象」として2012年に日本のNHKが提唱し、広まった言葉です。実際、ある調査*では「配偶者のことを愛していると実感する」割合が、子どもが2歳になった時点で、パパ側は51.7%へ、そしてなんとママ側では34.0%へ激減(妊娠中は双方とも74.3%)していると言います。 続いて母子家庭調査*の「母子家庭になった時期」では末子が0~2歳の間に離婚したケースが最も多いという衝撃の結果もあります。






ママは出産を終えると、一気に子育てモード全開!赤ちゃんを守ることに全神経を集中させます。その時に大活躍するのが、授乳や赤ちゃんを抱っこする際に脳から分泌される「オキシトシン」と言うホルモン。 このホルモン、普段は愛情を深め、パパやママ、赤ちゃんの絆を育むとても良い作用をするのですが、実は「攻撃性を高める」副作用があることも分かっています。





実家も遠く、気心知れた友人もすぐにはできない、そんなここバンコクではパパが唯一無二のママのサポーター。 ママの攻撃性を和らげる特効薬は、パパとママの良好なコミュニケーション、これ以外にはありません。 コミュニケーションと言っても特別な愛の言葉をささやく必要はありませんし、ママの愚痴に的確な回答を探す必要もありません。 ただ「そうなんだ」と気持ちに共感し、お互いに「いつもありがとう」「いつもお疲れ様」と肩をさするだけで良いのです。それだけで、パパを「子育ての敵」とみなすことはなくなり、攻撃性も和らぐかもしれません。  




産後に相談できる相談先や子育て広場の情報を仕入れたり、近い時期に出産されるママなど気軽に愚痴を言い合えるお友達を作ったりすることもイライラ解消には大変有効です。「お友達作りなんてめんどくさい」…そう言わずに。 そんなお互いの日々の些細な積み重ねこそが、子育て中の、そしてずっと先の夫婦関係を良好に保つ秘訣なのですから。  



Photos by Tina Franklin via Flickr and Ryan McGuire from Pixabay 


About the Author

Yukiyo is a Japanese midwife who has been educating new parents and apprentice midwives. Besides her busy daily life as a mom of three kids, she conducts seminars and roundtable talks and consults via LINE for expecting and postpartum mothers at the Japanese Association in Thailand.


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