There are few things more touching than a father to be showing off his pregnant wife and talking about how excited he is. When I met my husband, I had always said I didn’t want kids. He, like many other people throughout my life, said I would change my mind. Well, he was right. I had no idea what kind of mother I would be, but I knew instantly Thomas was going to be an amazing father. After my first trimester I was not allowed to vacuum, he really didn’t want me doing laundry or dishes, and was always worried when I would take the dog out for a walk. Turns out he wasn’t crazy and over protective, he was just going through a hormonal change like I was.
Pregnancy obviously changes a woman physically, emotionally, mentally, and biologically but did you know it does the same her partner? A study has found that sympathy weight isn’t the only pregnancy symptom the partners of pregnant women experience.
By Curt Autry
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – We’ve all heard the stories – your wife is pregnant, so you gain a little weight – maybe have a few sympathy pains. But those stories aren’t just “wives-tales.” A new study finds that men go through real, verifiable, biological changes when their partner is pregnant. Apparently, it’s nature’s way of making us better fathers.
It’s a Sunday afternoon in the cramped basement of a Carytown storefront where Melanie Headley holds her natural child birth class. All of these young couples are first time parents…and while the changes the women are going through are obvious to anyone – the men here are also experiencing psychiological changes, some they don’t even realize.
In a recent study – first time fathers were given weekly blood tests with their wives…and the blood analysis was startling. Just like the expectant mothers – the dad’s saw documentable changes, namely a lowering of testosterone and a spike in a hormone called prolactin.
The hormonal shift that most men experience when they father a cause very real symptoms.
Typically, expectant father’s gain weight, usually as much as 10% of their body weight. The loss of testosterone lowers sex drive – making them less competitive, and less likely to stray from their partners. A spike in prolactin acts like an opid…arousing tender & protective feelings toward their spouse.
When I told them about the results of the study, it was like a light bulb went off. When the men in the class thought about it almost all admitted they worried about their wives, like at no other time in their relationships.
“I worry about even silly things, like her picking up stuff – and I don’t want her to injure herself or hurt the baby,” said one man.
“I know, she’s an adult, she can take care of herself. Yeah, I definitely feel more protective,” another added.
“We have a routine. And when we step out of that routines, it makes me worry that something happened – and makes me want to check and make sure everything is alright,” said a third.
Another male symptom is phantom pains – experiencing cramps, back-ache, even the swelling of the feet – just like the women.
“I’ve been getting more leg cramps recently and I think he’s been getting them too. So, we thought maybe that was because of the syndrome, but we didn’t know,” one man said.
Melanie Headley has been teaching this class for years and has 4 children of her own. The results of the recent study came as no surprise to her.
“The changes that she’s having in her body — biologically, are gonna take a toll on her husband, as well. They’re gonna go through the same type of cycles, and they’ gonna synch up – I believe in that,” Headley said.
As a birth instructor myself, I love seeing husbands come to class excited and willing to participate. I speak from experience when I say it makes mammas very happy when you show you’re genuinely interested in what’s going on during a pregnancy.
I have to say I always thought the quote “A woman becomes a mother when she’s pregnant. A man becomes a father when he holds his child.” was right until I lived it. It may be different for each couple, but between Thomas and I, he definitely embraced the parenthood concept before I did. There were many nights of self-doubt with the typical pregnant brain thoughts of “I’m not good enough…I’m going to screw this kids life up…she deserves better and she’s not even born yet.” It may have all been an act (I doubt it though) but Thomas was always there with a brave face to tell me I was going to be the best mommy in the world. I am truly blessed to have such a supportive man in my life.
Here’s a little note to all the mommies to be….if you have a loving, caring, understanding partner do not take him for granted. This is harder on him than you know. Yes the pregnancy hormones will get to you, and he will just have to understand if you call him names or say you hate him during labor 😉 but this journey will be so much more rewarding if you take it on as a team. There are many women out there that do not have the blessing of an involved and supportive husband so try your hardest to show your gratitude.
As for you father to be out there….as a male you will never truly understand what pregnancy feels like but try your hardest. Listen to your wife, reassure her, help her even if she doesn’t ask for it, be involved, talk to your baby, and talk about the future. As I said above, this is a team “sport”. Yes it can be done alone, but you can make it a thousand time more rewarding to both of you if work together.
Birth is just the beginning of a new chapter in your life. In a single moment your life changes forever. You will never be 100% ready and you cannot predict how your life will change. Enjoy being a parent-to-be because, even if you have more kids in the future, this is a once in a life time experience.