Although it is women who experience the primary and direct hormonal and physical changes, men generally also find themselves facing numerous changes during their partner’s pregnancy. I wished to write this blog to discuss the changes that men face, and to also talk about the importance of taking into account men’s mental health during their partner’s pregnancy.
Research outlines a number of changes that men are faced with when they discover that their partner is pregnant. Even in situations where both parties are happy and excited about the pregnancy, men may now start to experience new thoughts and, potentially, new concerns that were not necessarily as strongly present prior to the pregnancy. Men may now start to wonder more about their ability to be a good father, experience worry about their partner’s health, and also experience thoughts about how the relationship with their partner may change with the presence of a child.
My question would be, what do men do with these thoughts or concerns? Research suggests that although men may experience stress and anxieties during the prenatal period, they may question if their experience is legitimate. This means that in such situations, men may look at their worries as not valid enough, in order to continue focusing on their partner’s needs. Research also discusses that men may hide their fears and control their emotions from their partner as a way to protect them from what they may view as added stress.
Concerns, anxieties and stress may subside as the couple lives the pregnancy stages together and transition gradually into the role of parenthood. Father involvement in the pregnancy through, for instance, attending appointments with the partner, is found to help the father during this transition. It also creates more spaces for the father to discuss his concerns and ask questions in order to obtain more information from health care professionals.
Nonetheless, it is still important for fathers to support themselves during their partner’s pregnancy and not ignore any worrying changes that may occur in their lifestyle during this transition. If, for example, one notices that they are drinking more alcohol during this stage in order to deal with feelings of anxiety and stress, it is important to not ignore this and to seek support in order to find ways to deal with these in a different way.
Rebecca Cassar is a Family Therapist practicing the Systemic Approach. She specializes in offering therapy to families, couples and individuals who are experiencing distress in their relationships. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.