Mum 'revolted' at husband for swearing at newborn

Mum 'revolted' at husband swearing at newborn
Mum 'revolted' at husband swearing at newborn  Photo: Alamy

"Am I being unreasonable for feeling revolted about my husband swearing at our newborn?"

That's the question a new mum has posted to the forum Mumsnet - and it's a prompted a real and raw conversation about those stressful early days and weeks of parenthood.

"I heard my husband swearing at our nine-week-old baby because she had a bit of reflux," the mum wrote, later adding for context: " He said to her 'oh for f--k's sake (then her name)'." 

While several commenters expressed outrage, many responded with compassion and anecdotes of times, they too swore at their young kids.

"Reflux babies can be hard," said one mum. "It can be a struggle. New dads struggle too but people aren't as quick to check on them as they are the mum. While it's not great what he said I'd be inclined to cut him some slack but make sure he knows it's totally not acceptable!"

"He swore and she was there, very different to swearing at her," said another. "If you manage to make it to the end of her first year without doing the same you will be unique in the world of parenting."

Said one mum: "I used to sing lullabies to mine about how I was going to throw them out the window if they didn't stop screaming etc in a gentle voice to the tune of rock a bye baby. It kept me sane but anyone listening would probably have been horrified."

Others pointed out, quite rightly, that there's an entire book "Go the F--ck to Sleep" devoted to the very same issue.

What the comments reiterate is that having a newborn can be incredibly stressful and test even the calmest and most patient of people. Add sleep-deprivation, the complete and utter shock of new parenthood and reflux into the mix and is it any wonder we might react in ways we're not necessarily proud of.

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Dr Nicole Highet, clinical psychologist and founder of the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE) says that constant crying can certainly take its toll on new mums and dads. "Not only is it distressing to hear your infant crying, being unable to soothe or settle them also undermines your confidence as a new parent," she says. "Babies all come with their own unique temperaments and like people generally, some will be easy going and placid, whilst others will be highly sensitive or determined in their own way."

Dr Highet adds that often, common medical conditions (such as reflux or colic) can cause babies to be in pain and lead them to cry and be unsettled. As such, she notes that it's a important to have your baby checked by a health professional to rule this out as a possible reason for their distress and crying, and if this is the case, seek treatment for them to alleviate their pain and symptoms.

And the impact of a crying infant on parents' mental health should not be underestimated.

"Excessive crying over time may lead you to have negative feelings toward your baby," Dr Highet says. "This does not mean that you are a bad parent – it is a natural response to a stressful situation."

But it's important to recognise when it's time to seek help.

"If these feelings become intense, continue to come back and/or make you feel that you cannot cope or you have feelings of harming your baby, it is time to talk to a health professional or call an advice line," she says.

PANDA Helpline: 1300 726 306

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Tresillian parent advice line 1300 272 736