When you hear about the different stages of pregnancy, the first thing that comes to mind is what changes it brings to a woman’s body. A woman has a life growing inside her, and for nine months, her body prepares herself for the arrival of this new life. A baby’s delivery is life-altering because of the changes a woman goes through — hormonal changes and bodily changes that last for a long time. Her lifestyle and sleep patterns change, and so do her moods. But what most people don’t account for is how much change the baby’s father goes through.
Granted that men don’t experience physical changes like women do, however, you cannot dismiss the fact that their lives change after a baby comes into it. Their responsibilities increase, priorities shift, and the papa bear in them awakens. Research shows that men experience hormonal changes after they become a father. According to a study by psychologist Elizabeth Gould, new fathers experience an increase in hormones like estrogen, oxytocin, prolactin, and glucocorticoids. It happens when they are in contact with the mother and baby (1).
Fathers also show a decrease in testosterone levels, increasing the bond with the baby and making the dad less aggressive. Studies also revealed that infant contact brought about similar neural activity in fathers just like new mothers. Fathers who participated in childcare showed an increase in levels of oxytocin (2).