Dads’ hormones change, too, during pregnancy

USA Today

By Liz Szabo, USA TODAY
June 14, 2010
As Lance Somerfeld learned, babies are excellent teachers.

His son provided round-the-clock on-the-job training, free of charge.

Within days of becoming a father, the 36-year-old New York City resident learned how to soothe a fussy baby. How to burp him, feed him and swaddle him.

Yet in some ways, Somerfeld’s son began shaping him into a father even before delivery.

Although men may not be aware of it, they actually undergo hormonal changes as they prepare for fatherhood, says neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, author of The Male Brain (Broadway Books, $24.99), released in March.

At first, those hormones tell them to panic, or at least pay attention.

Levels of a stress hormone called cortisol — the same ancient chemical that instructs men to fight or take flight — tend to spike about four to six weeks after men learn they’re going to be fathers, subsiding as the mother’s pregnancy progresses, Brizendine says.

“It is a cortisol surge that wakes our brains up every morning,” Brizendine says. “So this surge may put the father-to-be’s brain on alert and in a sense wake him up to the impending reality of a new baby’s coming, and alert him that he’d better get things ready.”

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.