Fatherhood as seen through scientific glasses! – A fascinating insight

From time immemorial, the mother is considered to be the epitome of nurturing and protectiveness, as far as the baby is concerned. Right from the stages of pregnancy to giving birth to a baby and taking care of it, the mother remains irreplaceable. Also, when seen through the eyes of science, the mother undergoes a series of hormonal, emotional and body changes. Now, where does the dad come into the picture with respect to his bonding with the baby? This article peeks into the fascinating insight of the changes that take place in the father during his journey through fatherhood, from the point of view of science.

Fluctuating hormone levels:
Who said that the mother alone undergoes fluctuating hormone levels and body changes during pre-pregnancy? Well! According to a psychiatrist who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, the bonding of the male parent with the fetus starts much before the child is born. Any human behavior is defined by the rise and fall of the secretion of hormones. When the father-to-be visualizes his role in the child-care and nurturing, his testosterone levels eventually drop. (To put it in layman’s terms, testosterone is a hormone which contributes to the aggressive behavior in the male.) This is a proven fact in accordance with a study published in the American Journal of Human Biology in the year 2014. Also, according to another study published in Biological Psychiatry in the year 2010, the new dad’s Oxytocin levels shoot up when the baby is born and it can be said that this hormone level in him is as much as that of the mother’s. This sudden increase in the “bonding” hormone (Oxytocin) can be attributed to the active interaction between the baby and the new father. Thus the rise and fall of hormones, which is a very common phenomenon in females while nurturing a baby, is also found in their male counterparts and this distinct feature is not very well known to most of us.

Changes in the brain:
While taking care of the child the father’s brain undergoes a series of transitions, wherein that part of the brain that manages cognitive and emotional senses receives more neurons. This, in turn, results in more social understanding and emotional processing in the new dad equivalent to that of the mom according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their planning and decision-making skills also receive a boost.
May help to stop the wrong lifestyle:
Researchers at the Oregon University have found out that when men embrace fatherhood, it is more likely that they will shed their negative lifestyle such as consuming alcohol, smoking, drugs etc and become more responsible towards life.
Weight gain:
Men also undergo physiological changes like weight gain when they step into fatherhood. This is in accordance to a study conducted by researchers of the Northwestern University. Also, they might be struck with depressive symptoms much like their female counterparts. This may be attributed to the changes in lifestyle due to the new arrival. As the “modern dad” takes up more responsibilities in child care and nurturing, these physiological changes in him do not come as a surprise.
Sensitive to baby’s cries:
There is nothing to beat the maternal instinct when it comes to caring for the baby’s needs but dads are also not left far behind according to a research conducted by scientists. In this study, a majority of the dads were able to detect the cries of their baby correctly from amongst five of them and they did just as well as the moms do.
Well! Times are changing and it is commendable to note that modern dads do equally well like moms in child rearing and when seen through scientific glasses a dad’s role in nurturing the child gets fortified a multiple times! Three cheers to the most important man of our lives!