What Do Men Experience During Pregnancy?
When a couple receives the news that they’re going to become parents, almost immediately, all attention is focused on the woman. Friends and family are always sure to ask how she’s doing, physically and emotionally, and go out of their way to spoil her. She has access to groups and platforms where she finds support and communication. However, her partner is often left behind. So, have you ever wondered how men experience pregnancy?
Well, it’s indeed a difficult transition for them as well. It’s true that men don’t endure the physical changes and discomfort that the pregnancy process brings. However, their lives also take a 180-degree turn and they can experience worries and intense emotions just as women do. The difference is that they often have to do it alone and with fewer resources.
How do men experience pregnancy?
The internal experiences and, therefore, the reactions of each man, can be different depending on the circumstances. Psychologically speaking, a pregnancy that comes as a surprise isn’t the same as one that comes after many failed attempts by the couple. A family’s economic situation and other factors can also play a relevant role in the way the future family receives the news.
It seems like only women experience hormonal changes with pregnancy. However, research reveals that, during this period men have an increase in estrogen and prolactin and a decrease in testosterone.
Some fathers may even suffer from what we know as Couvade syndrome, through which they mimic and empathize so much with the woman’s condition that they may experience symptoms similar to hers. For example, nausea, weight gain, or mood swings.
Fears and concerns
There are many fears that emerge in a man’s mind when he knows he’s going to become a father. Fear of not being prepared, of not being up to his new role. Fear of not having enough financial resources to support the baby. Or that his relationship with his partner will change.
It’s common for men to think that, after the child’s arrival, the woman will focus all her attention on the baby. And, as a result, the couple’s emotional bond will suffer.
Likewise, they worry about the health and well-being of their partner and their future baby. They may feel anxious about whether everything will go well during the pregnancy and what delivery will be like. They wonder if both mother and baby will be okay. In addition, they may feel insecure in their role as parents and left out of the process. Given that, undoubtedly, the woman has the leading role and men play a supporting part.
It may happen that the man isn’t able to connect emotionally with his child while still in the womb. And this may cause him to worry and be jealous of the relationship that’s already being forged between the child and the mother, a relationship that leaves him out of the equation.
Men’s lack of resources during pregnancy
But, undoubtedly, the biggest problem that men experience during pregnancy is the lack of resources. First of all, lack of personal resources to understand and adequately manage the emotions that are appearing. Let’s keep in mind that, unfortunately, many men have received an upbringing in which expressing emotions was considered a sign of weakness.
Many men haven’t acquired strategies for dealing with their feelings and, now that they’re welling up inside them, they may not know how to deal with them.
On the other hand, they often face the tough challenge of digesting all their emotions and fears alone. It’s likely they don’t have adequate support networks, or the ones they do have don’t realize that men also need to be listened to and supported at this time. Many may even feel unable to share their thoughts with their partner, in order to avoid burdening her with additional weight.
However, it’s essential that they’re able to carry out emotional venting. It’s important that they find spaces in which to share their inner experiences. Either with family members, with their partner, with trusted friends, or with a health professional.