We all know dad had something to do right at the start of the process of having a baby, and he was likely there holding a camera expectantly nine months later. But, there is normally shockingly little involvement for the soon-to-be dad for the time in-between. How can men be active fathers from conception and help foster a positive home life right from the start?
A recent issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing says that leaving dad out of the prenatal health could be damaging to the whole family. Stressed-out, anxious pregnant women who don’t receive adequate support are linked to less-than-ideal infant health outcomes. The role fathers-to-be play hasn’t been studied nearly as much, but because pregnant women rely on them for support and care, researcher ManSoo Yu says it stands to reason that inattentive expectant fathers may also contribute to poorer infant health.
“When people hear about a pregnancy, they automatically think about women and the baby,” says Yu, an assistant professor in the Public Health Program and the School of Social Work at the University of Missouri. “It’s never about men.”
Yu, the study’s lead author, analyzed 66 low-income Missouri couples, examining how stress and social support impacted men and women differently. To get a better hold on the emotions of both men and women during pregnancy, he administered the Prenatal Psychosocial Profile (PPP) to 132 expectant mothers and fathers. The PPP is typically given only to pregnant women to assess stress, self-esteem and how supportive they feel their partners are.
When confronted with pregnancy-related issues — things like bodily changes and wondering how life will change post-baby — Yu found that men respond in much the same way they do when dealing with financial stressors, while women view them as emotional stressors.
“Men are thinking about how they are going to support their new family,” says Yu. “They are trying to understand the role of the father and consider how they will parent.”
While expectant mothers concentrate on the prenatal period, men tend to focus on the future, fretting about how they’re going to afford diapers and child care. It’s an important distinction and one that should be pointed out to doctors, nurses, midwives and social workers who take care of pregnant women, says Yu.
“We have to provide prenatal care for fathers,” says Yu. “Expectant fathers deserve attention and support as well.”
Data from the research also revealed that men and women doled out support in different ways. Women gave their partners emotional support while men offered tangible support, helping with specific tasks.
If nothing else, that’s encouraging news in light of a recent survey mentioned previously by ForbesWoman and the pregnancy website TheBump.com, which came down hard on dads for not helping out more at home. Sure, women want to feel supported and understood, but what they really want is help with household chores and with the kids. Now women just have to ease up on the relentless attempt to be Supermom.
Orlando Attorney Jeffrey Feulner and the Men’s Divorce Law Firm believe fathers play and irreplaceable role in the family. That is why we stand for father’s rights and aggressively represent husbands and fathers in family law matters. If you have a family law issue please contact us today.