If the 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger film Junior put any thoughts in your head about pregnancy, don’t let it fool you. Pregnancy is strictly a female thing. However, this emotional and hormonal roller coaster doesn’t just take moms-to-be on a ride. According to recent research, expectant fathers are known to face a similar turmoil as their female partners during the three trimesters of pregnancy.
A Pregnant Man Is Not A Myth
Many men exhibit symptoms that closely mimic the ones that a women primarily faces during pregnancy, a syndrome known as sympathetic pregnancy. Clark Canine, a psychotherapist, speaker and author at eTherapi from San Francisco, says, “Fathers-to-be experience physical changes just like the mother. There is of course a lot of individual variance, but there has been scientific research into the hormonal shift, including a rise in cortisol and prolactin during the pregnancy and a drop in testosterone in the first few weeks after delivery (up to 30 percent).”
This observation is backed by a recent study carried out at the University of Michigan where researchers found that the decline in the steroid hormones testosterone and estradiol help men assume more sensitive and nurturing roles in the relationship.
Catherine A O’Brien, MA, LMFT from California explains the importance of this hormonal shift. She adds, “This change in hormones is key, as it helps them become more aware and be prepared for what is happening. There are a lot of changes that happen after a baby is born on the domestic and financial front. Men should also know how to respond to a baby’s crying and how to nurture and bond with their kids in order to be an excellent caregiver.”
O’Brien says that this sudden emotional responsibility can affect their mental well-being and health. She gives some important tips to handle these changes better:
- It is important for couples to talk to each other, even before the baby is born, and discuss how they’ll be handling the changes.
- If you find that your male partner is binging on all the junk that you are craving for, make some amends in your kitchen. Here’s how you can stock your kitchen with healthy snacks.
- Get your partner involved in yoga and other exercises that you do. This will not only help battle the bulge, but also alleviate any stress and anxiety.
- If you think you’re losing your sex drive, find other ways to show your affection and love to your partner. Take an evening walk together or just snuggle up on the couch with some popcorn and a movie.
- Eat right, be more involved and keep in control. Share your concerns and validate what your partner is feeling.
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