How to give a dad to be a break :-)

Week 23 in the big mama house and I am having fun observing the oxytocin response (or rather the lack of it) on the hubby. For him the little ripper is a little alien in a galaxy far, far away aka there is no emotional connection. This is because most men who don't have kids don't produce oxytocin (the love hormone) in response to the baby until they experience the child in the first 6 months of its life. On the other hand, most women produce oxytocin during and after pregnancy and can bond with the little one even in utero.

The interesting thing is that the male oxytocin response is long lasting. Men with at least one child become more empathic not only towards the subsequent pregnancies of their partner but also towards children of other people (as I happily found out from friends who are dads. Great support from the guys!).

Neuroendocrinology rocks! Not only because of the fascination with mother nature and its workings, but also because I was happy to see the relief in many dads to be, when I offered them the explanation for their feelings. The usual response I get is: "I am glad to know I am not the only one feeling like that". Poor guys.. they are under a lot of pressure!

Inspired by some cognitive behavioural therapy research I devised a simple experiment to help the hubby feel a bit more connected with the little one: I asked him to play music on the ipod and place it on different locations on my tummy. I would then report back to him the reaction of the baby. He was fascinated to see the baby responding and moving towards some of the stimuli and he was able to reproduce the effect when playing the same piece of music on other days. I noticed him asking about the baby more often now and also offering to play music without being prompted and play with the baby. Result!

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  • Im currently pregnant with my first, but its my partners second, i feel quite lucky that hes been through it all before, and from reading your post, it might be just as well. He talks to bump, and tells it to be good lol and hes always trying to get baby to move! Hes fascinated! I would say he already has a bond with baby. I shall count myself lucky for this. :)

  • my fella has never had a kid before this, yet he will gladly talk to bump even in public, and he will rub my tummy after every hug and cuddle. He is really excited! I think that any research into the emotional responses of man will be bogus as they will always revert to macho-ism and claim they dont feel a thing when they do. Maybe I'm just lucky to have a sensitive man by my side, who knows :)

  • Ahhh..and herein lies the value of doing science properly. That means properly controlled experiments with statistical power that is big enough and devoid of bias. You are indeed right that self reporting is by its nature biased, so they used more objective measures that cannot be controlled consciously like heart rate, metabolic rate, pupil dilation, blood levels of hormones in response to stimuli (e.g. showing newbies and experienced dads-to-be ultrasound pics of their babies or exposing them to crying babies of other people). They also made sure that when conducting the experiments the mothers were not in sight thus taking away the bias of a loving hormonal response towards the mother than the baby. And if you figure out the evolutionary mechanism behind this phenomenon, you can get extra points :-)

  • Theory proved: men are weak and very open to suggestion... ;-p

  • Ha! Ha! :-)

  • Facinating reading and so true. My hubby is very emotionally responsive to this 3rd pregnancy bump, far more than my previous pregnancies. Does the man's age have a bearing I wonder? Obviously the fact that this is a baby we were told we could never conceive helps in the bonding process after 9 years of trying :-)

  • Owwww... That is so sweet!! By the way first time dads are cognitively invested in the baby (they are not psychopaths!) but emotionally it is a new and unknown experience to them. Not seeing or feeling the baby makes it harder for them to bond. But once the experience is registered in the brain, it becomes long lasting. I don't know if age has an effect. Obviously in your case the emotional reaction is even more heightened considering how precious the little one is :-) My best, heartfelt wishes xx

  • Thanks :-) xx

  • My hubby has Couvade syndrome- he's always trying to steal my thunder! Still at least he's suffering too...

  • Oh!!! Sympathetic pregnancy! Your hubby is an oxytocin super-responder. Awesome!

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