You know how all your physical and emotional changes during pregnancy make it impossible to not have baby on the brain 24-7? For guys, connecting with fatherhood happens in a slow but steady build. In fact, the changes he experiences are so subtle (unlike yours – hello morning sickness and belly!) he may not even know it’s happening. Remember, pregnancy gives moms a big head-start connecting with the baby, but for dads, things don’t get as real until baby’s born, but that doesn’t mean he’s not preparing.
Here’s how it works . . .
You find out you’re pregnant and your hormones start flying—congratulations! Then, just from being physically close to you and reacting to your pheromones, Dad’s body starts a series of hormonal changes to prepare him for fatherhood.
- PROLACTIN brings out a desire to care for his baby.
- VASOPRESSIN triggers “family man” attentiveness.
- CORTISOL keeps him primed and ready to protect his family.
- TESTOSTERONE is temporarily reduced to help him with patience.
- OXYTOCIN sends him surges of love and a desire for bonding.
That’s a whole lot of chemical reactions going on, so even though he’s on a different timetable, nature is working its magic on him. And his slower timetable has a purpose: it helps mellow out your all-consuming focus.
Once the baby is born, an important part of Daddy Brain development is lots of hands-on parenting. When Dad and Baby are together, they build hormonal and neural connections that strengthen their bond. Skin-to-skin contact with baby gives Dad the same rush of oxytocin that you started experiencing during pregnancy. By supporting Dad’s active participation, you’re helping his Daddy Brain reach full-throttle, and we hear it time and time again at Boot Camp: Dads love it and want more!
Before the baby is born:
- Remind yourself you’re in it together. Dad is also going through big changes to prepare for baby.
- Set the intention to encourage Dad’s hands-on involvement. Allowing him maximum bonding time has huge benefits for baby and you.
- Remember your differences are your strengths. Dad’s brain is uniquely designed to complement yours.
Rest assured: Dad may not be knee-deep in childcare books or itching to test-drive strollers, but his Daddy Brain is definitely getting into gear.