Is Anxiety in Fathers Normal During Pregnancy?
We’ve often heard our friends say that during pregnancy, even though the mom is the one carrying the baby, the dad is the one who feels sick. Although this might just be a funny aside, anxiety in fathers is something quite common.
Some dads even claim that they were the ones to get cravings, along with an endless list of other symptoms associated with pregnancy, such as acid reflux.
Is this normal?
This reaction is normal. However, anxiety in fathers can be associated with feelings of neglect. This is a way for the dad to demonstrate that he, too, is expecting a child, not just the mother who carries the baby in her womb.
And this is absolutely true. The dad is also expecting a baby. Although his body may not be going through the same changes as that of his partner, his life has changed.
This pregnancy was his decision, too; one that he planned together with his partner. Before getting pregnant, there was a period of projects and plans, questions and advice, all in preparation for the moment when the couple is ready to bring a child into the world.
The fact is that, during this period of preparation, when having a baby was still nothing more than a plan, both parents were able to participate actively.
But once the baby has been conceived, it is the woman who receives most of the attention. Nobody worries much about the father. But he, too, is expecting a child.
And the two will become one flesh
-Mark 10:8, the Bible
This famous quote can help us to understand that, when a couple comes together, they are one flesh. This means that the joy and the pain of one partner is also felt by the other.
This is one of the reasons for anxiety in fathers, and explains why dad can feel the same symptoms as their pregnant partners.
Possible causes of anxiety in fathers
- Dads can sometimes come to see their babies as a rival. If this is something you’re struggling with, try to be there for your baby as much as possible. This will help you bond with them and guards against these unwanted feelings.
- If you are prone to feelings of abandonment, the arrival of a baby can awaken old fears. Even if you and your partner have been together for years, spending time together and sharing everything, the upheaval of a new baby, even one that is planned and wanted, can lead to moments of crisis.
- You may be anxious about fatherhood, and living up to your idea of the Perfect Dad. Don’t worry, you’ll get over this as your child grows up.
- Unconsciously, you may envy what your partner’s female body is able to do. As a consequence, you may feel excluded.
What to do
- Talk to your partner, and tell her about how you are feeling.
- Try to relax. Don’t let the anxiety that can arise close to your partner’s due date take away your appetite, make you nauseous or cause pain.
- Ask your partner to do something together, as a couple. You could take a walk, go to the cinema, or plan a romantic dinner.
- The best way to get over these unwanted feelings is to participate. Accompany your partner in all the new experiences she is facing. Go with her to the clinic, to medical checkups, or when she has a scan. Both of you have the same right to see your child growing, listen to their heartbeats, see their movements, and check that they are doing well.
Pregnancy is something for you to go through together, as a couple. Both parents are preparing for the arrival of their child in different ways. She is carrying the baby in her womb, and you are there to accompany her and support her at every step of the way, and to welcome your child into your lives together.
You should work together to buy the things your baby needs and to decorate their room. Go together to pre-natal classes. After all, both of you are feeling the same fears, the same anxiety and the same excitement.