My OB-GYN is the Bruce Springsteen of doctors. He is The Boss.
One of the things I really like about him was that he always took an extra ten minutes after our usual prenatal check-up to just hang out with us, talk and answer questions.
He always, always made it a point to ask how I was doing and then turn to my husband and ask how he was holding up. I really thought that was cool. Because dads-to-be need love too!
As I’ve written, postpartum depression is a real thing for men too. So it’s important to assess their feelings before and after pregnancy as well. As Bonnie Rochman reports for TIME, research in a recent issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing agrees with me:
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,” Yu, an assistant professor in the Public Health Program and the School of Social Work at the University of Missouri, tells Rochman. “It’s never about men.”
Yu looked at how stress and social support impacts men and women differently by studying 66 low-income Missouri couples. He found that while women tend to concentrate on their pregnancies and getting ready for baby, men respond to pregnancy-related changes in the same way they do when dealing with financial stressors.
“Men are thinking about how they are going to support their new family,” Yu tells TIME. They’re worried about how they can pay for all the items having a baby requires.
Yu says health care providers who take care of pregnant women should be aware of how men are feeling during the prenatal period. He also advises men should be more involved in those prenatal doctor visits so they can learn tools for dealing with the stress having a child inevitably brings.
“We have to provide prenatal care for fathers,” says Yu. “Expectant fathers deserve attention and support as well.”
How involved was your husband in your prenatal care? Were you disappointed or impressed? Did you think he should’ve done more or do you think the system is set up to make dad feel left out? Conversely, if you’re a dad, did you feel left out?