By Jaclyn Stewart
Does Dad really go through hormonal changes during pregnancy?
My dad always used to say that his life totally changed the moment he learned he would be a father. He was a rock n’ roller turned teddy bear the moment he held me in his arms, and he was instinctively brilliant at caring for me in tandem with my mom. As it turns out, his instinct and abilities might have been a result of hormonal changes that most fathers go through when they learn that their partner is pregnant with their baby. Believe it or not, moms aren’t the only ones with raging hormones during pregnancy.
Dad will experience a cortisol spike
According to research, men actually begin producing these hormones before the baby’s birth. Their cortisol levels spike six weeks after they learn that their wife is going to have their baby. Cortisol is a panic hormone, but it is also the same hormone that allows us to wake up after deep sleep. When men experience increased production, it usually makes them more aware of their surroundings and nervous enough to begin mentally preparing for their baby’s birth.
Decreased testosterone and increased caregiving
Then, three weeks before the baby is actually born, a man will experience a drop in the level of testosterone in his body. As you probably know, testosterone is responsible for a man’s “manliness.” It’s what makes him get into fights, act competitive, and channel his sex drive. When testosterone drops, a man becomes more sensitive and feminine. Biologically, a drop in testosterone makes a lot of sense. It makes a man care more about his baby and prioritize his family life above everything else. It gives the baby a second, gentle caregiver, which will help him or her survive. It will also allow your husband to leave his manly pride at the door so he won’t feel weird about buying you a new breast pump or a pack of pads at the store as you care for your little one.
How mom's pheromones play a role
Additionally, your man’s brain will change to make him more receptive to hearing your baby cry. He might also produce more prolactin, which leaves scientists baffled considering it’s the breastfeeding hormone. The human body is very mysterious, but it’s likely that your partner or husband will go through these hormonal changes as a result of his feeding off of your airborne pheromones during pregnancy. Whatever the cause, be glad about it because your husband’s hormonal changes will make your pregnancy easier and your baby safer.
Source: Brizendine, Louann. The Male Brain. New York: Broadway, 2010.