Father (a dad / daddy)
(n.) a pillar of strength, support and discipline for his children
Fatherhood can change a man’s life. It also changes his brain and emotions, in ways that it seems to equip dads with the very same “baby sense” that’s often attributed to mums.
Science has only recently delved into the neural and hormonal mechanisms of paternal care. However, so far the evidence suggests that mothers’ and fathers’ brains use a similar neural circuitry when taking care of their children. Moms and dads also undergo similar hormonal changes that are linked to their brain and behaviour changes. Read through to learn more about what having kids means for a new dad.
1. Dad’s brain looks like mum’s
Taking care of a child reshapes a dad’s brain. In fact, it shows the same patterns of cognitive and emotional engagement that are seen in mums.
2. Dads experience hormonal changes, too
Contact with the mother and children seem to induce the hormonal changes in dads, the researchers said. Dads who show more affection toward their children also tend to have higher levels of oxytocin. Moreover, dads show a decrease in testosterone, which may work to make the fathers less aggressive and bring them closer to their children.
3. Dads become sensitive to their children’s voices, too
Although it is generally thought that a “maternal instinct” makes mums incredibly good at picking out their baby’s unique cry, a recent study suggests that, in fact, dads are just as good as mums.
4. Dads may also suffer from postnatal depression
The birth of a child can be emotionally challenging for many parents. While it is estimated that 10% of new mums suffer from Postnatal depression (PND); it is now also recognised that PND can be experienced by dads, sometimes called paternal depression. Studies have shown that one in 10 dads has PND and fathers also appear to be more likely to suffer from depression three to six months after their baby is born.
5. Dads develop a healthier lifestyle
Two of the biggest benefits of having a family: More happiness and satisfaction and the motivation to live a healthier life. A survey found fatherhood motivated men to eat a healthier diet, exercise more, drink or smoke less, and put themselves in dangerous situations less often. Experts say the transition to fatherhood is a surprisingly good time to break bad habits and establish healthier ones.
What are your tips for new dads? We’d love to hear them – share with us in the comments!
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Adapted from an article by Live Science