Becoming a new mom is an intimidating process. While the baby may take nine months to make its full appearance, moms have their maternal instincts start developing from the moment they find out they’re pregnant. Moms start prepping through nesting and conducting their own research, but they also have a maternal connection as the baby grows inside of them.
For soon-to-be dads, the connection can be harder to form until the day of birth. Dads can feel a kick here and there with their hand, but they don’t get the same nine months of bonding with the baby-to-be.
Once the baby is born, it’s go time for dads. Any worry mom or dad may have about dad lacking a sense of paternal connection with the new baby will quickly disappear. In the early days of fatherhood, men experience changes at a fundamental level. Not only will they have the experience of seeing their new baby, but their bodies actually start to adapt to prepare for fatherhood. This includes changes on a chemical level as well as a new level of emotional intelligence.
Here are 20 ways dad will change within the first 48 hours with baby.
20 He’ll Have New Paternal Instincts In His Biology
While women tend to do a lot of the preparation in the weeks leading up to birth as part of nesting habits, a dad’s body is doing its own preparing without anyone even being aware of it. According to Motherly, studies have shown expectant fathers experience a rise in estrogen levels in the weeks leading up to a baby’s due date and continue to stay elevated in the months that follow. This creates more parental instincts and a heightened level of emotional awareness.
New fathers also experience a 20% rise in prolactin levels. While this hormone is associated with promotion lactation for new moms, the hormone works to promote the development of paternal behavior in new dads.
19 He May Think More Like Mom
For a long time, it’s been commonly accepted that “moms know best” and the maternal instinct is significantly more prevalent than the father’s counterpart.
According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, fathers who were the primary caregiver of a child showed the same activation in emotional processing seen in primary caregiver moms. Despite some bad dad jokes and some questions that may feel silly to mom, dads actually develop the same parental instincts as their wives. The study shows taking care of a child has the power to actually reshape a father’s brain.
18 He Could Ask For A Second Child Right Away
Once a father starts bonding with his first baby, it’s not unusual for him to start getting an itch for baby number two. With the chemical changes that took place, usually unexpectedly for a new dad, he’s become a new person and was most likely surprised by how quickly his paternal instincts kicked in.
If he digs in and does his research, he’ll also find out having two kids can lower his risk of heart disease. According to a British study referenced by Today’s Parent, men with two children had a “significantly lower risk of developing heart disease than men with one or no children.”
17 His Mindset On 'Free Time' Will Shift
When a new baby is just an early idea, it can feel crazy to try to picture how to fit a new child into your current scheduling equation. Between your girl nights and his hockey games, throwing a sleepless baby into the mix may sound nearly impossible.
More often than not, having a baby forces dads to dial in. They start to realize how certain social aspects of their life feel less important, and they zero in on providing for their family and spending time with them as often as possible. According to Psychology Today, men with children spend more time with kids, more time in paid employment, and less time is leisure and social activities than non-fathers.
16 His Memory May Improve
If it feels like having a child brings a new level of depth into your life, it’s because it does. According to Live Science, research has shown the birth of a child induces the development of new neurons in a father’s brain in response to the change in environmental richness. His body takes it upon itself to help dad adapt and be ready for all of the new lists he’ll have to keep in mind.
While these studies have mostly been conducted on animals, scientists believe the same applies to human dads. The studies showed increased cell growth in the hippocampus region, linked to memory and navigation. If it seems like your husband has suddenly become more attentive, a better listener or just impressive in his ability to remember information, don’t be surprised!
15 His Testosterone Level Will Drop
This is not a drill: according to a 2011 study noted in Motherly, testosterone levels in new fathers drop around 40% in the first month alone. While higher estrogen is responsible for giving them more paternal instincts and emotional sensibility, it seems the drop in testosterone is an evolutionary change to help fathers excel in their new role.
The study found fathers with higher testosterone levels were less responsive to infant cries and, apparently, felt less sympathetic to them. By lowering the levels of testosterone in a man’s body, the body is preparing itself to participate in committed parenting and a deeper role as a caregiver to their new child.
14 He May Get Sympathetic Symptoms
As it turns out, mom isn’t the only one who can experience physical discomfort as a result of carrying a new baby for nine months. According to Today’s Parent, Couvade syndrome is when new fathers experience symptoms ranging from fluctuations in appetite and weight gain to increased flatulence, back pain, and even morning sickness.
These symptoms can be a mix of a sympathetic reaction to a wife’s experience, and can also be attributed to the physical and hormonal changes a father experiences after their baby is born. Symptoms can also be contributed to the general anxiety around becoming a new parent and an uneasy feeling about the new pressures that will follow.
13 He May Also Experience Sickness
Becoming a dad can be intimidating, but the good news is it’s actually beneficial to long-term health. According to Psychology Today, fathers seem to live longer, healthier lives than their non-father friends.
While this is true for long-term, fatherhood can be responsible for short-term health issues. The lack of sleep fathers can experience combined with all of the new germs associated with a young child have a tendency to make fathers fall ill. If he can tough it through the early months, or even years, with getting sick here and there, he’ll be grateful when he remembers his long-term health will prosper.
12 He Can Develop Postpartum Depression, Too
Although it hasn’t always been widely discussed, postpartum depression is a much more common topic of discussion today with new moms. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as one in five women suffer from it.
The conversations have started to become more mainstream, and mothers are now able to get the support they need to address it early. While it’s certainly less common at this time, it’s also possible for new dads to experience postpartum depression as well. According to a study in 2010, approximately 10 percent of men have experienced postpartum depression.
11 He Will Immediately Recognize His Baby’s Cry
If a mother was asked if she believes she can identify her baby’s cry, she would undoubtedly say yes. It’s these small nuances that we associate with that original mom-to-baby relationship, but it turns out dad isn’t left out in the cold after all.
According to Live Science, men aren’t far behind women when it comes to creating that early tie with their offspring. In fact, a study on identifying babies’ cries argues there’s really no difference at all.
Researchers asked 27 fathers and 29 mothers to pick out their babies' cries. Parents were generally able to detect their babies' cries about 90 percent of the time.
The kicker? Men did just as well as women, even despite assumptions going into the study.
10 He May Feel Helpless Or Frustrated
Despite the changes dad will experience on a chemical level, it still won’t feel as clear as becoming a mom may feel for a woman. Because of the ever-changing expectations and roles for dads, it’s difficult to find a clear way in which you fit into the new parental equation.
Dads can become more easily frustrated if they’re unsure how to help a crying baby or feed the baby while mom rests, according to RaisingChildren.net. He can feel like he is facing an uphill battle when it comes to forming an initial bond that will be as strong as baby and mom.
9 His Respect For You Will Triple
Once a man sees his wife go through nine months of childbearing followed by an exhausting labor, he gains a new understanding of what she’s willing to do for their family. From this point on, dads are more likely to notice all of the little things his wife has been doing all along, and all of the new things she’s started doing to help take care of their new little loved one.
As a result, the dad not only steps up in providing for his child, but he also looks to take care of his wife more attentively than ever before. It’s an added bonus in the transition from husband to dad, and it’s something to look forward to after nine months of back pains and aches.
8 His Drive To Succeed Will Grow
As noted earlier, a dad’s priorities start to change when it comes to his free time once he has a new baby. This is because he starts to realize the importance of focusing in on his family and providing for them. While his free time starts to limit outside social outings, his time at work seems to get even more focused.
Having a baby often inspires dads to succeed. Not only do they want to provide a strong example for their child as they age, but they want to be able to provide a sense of stability and security in your home. According to Parents.com, it’s not unusual for dads to start working harder at the office to try to make as much money as possible for their family.
7 His Desire To Do More Than His Father Will Flourish
Parenting has changed dramatically over the years, and the role of fathers in raising their children is one of the most notable elements to have shifted. Historically speaking, families were taught the importance of attachment between an infant and its mother in early years. Researchers believed it was the most important, and even only, the relationship a baby could form and dads were left out of the equation.
As Micah Toub wrote for Today’s Parent, his own father felt he didn’t have a role model for how to be an involved father because of the generation in which his father grew up. Having these generational changes have made guidelines for dads difficult and sometimes non-existent, but it’s clear modern dads have a goal to flourish.
6 He Will Turn Into A Softie
At this point, it’s clear that your husband is going through a lot of changes. While these hormonal and psychological changes may not be common knowledge, it’s a quiet reality for dads even if they don’t realize it’s happening.
Expect your husband to become a bit of a softer man. He will be more emotional around the baby, more sensitive to your needs, and his personality will most likely shift. It can take some time for the two of you to adapt to your new roles, and now his changed personality type, but it’s natural for this process to take a while. Once everything settles, you’ll be happy to have a more involved and caring partner.
5 He’ll Want To Play With The Baby A Lot
For a mother, physical contact with their new baby releases oxytocin in their body. This means that snuggling into their baby actually pumps more feelings of love into their body, all associated with their newborn.
A father does not experience the same reaction to physical contact with their baby, but instead relies on social interaction to get that extra sensation of love. As fathers play with their babies, they experience a boost in oxytocin, according to Motherly. Because it can become an addictive sensation, don’t be thrown off if dad seems to volunteer for more and more playtimes with the baby to allow you to rest.
4 He’ll Start Picking Up The Slack
Most men today are willing to do their part when it comes to bath time, changing diapers, feeding time, and taking turns waking up when the baby does. You may also be pleasantly surprised when your husband starts picking up the slack in other areas of household duties. New dads will often get more involved in cooking meals, doing laundry, or helping clean up after a long week as they start to settle into their household role as “dad.”
Most new dads acknowledge they can’t do certain parts that are left up to mom’s body, so they start to help out in any way they can find.
3 He Won’t Leave Your Side
The first 48 hours will be spent having your husband tend to every need you may have. With so much to process himself, he will stick close to his wife and his new little family.
Before the birth, a man sees his life as still fairly independent with a partner by his side. Once the baby is born, his world is flipped upside down and he sees himself as a part of a wildly special unit. Not only will he be proud of you for your work to date, but he’ll be excited to conquer the next step together, which is endearing.
2 He’ll Develop A New Concern For Safety
Men have a traditionally long history of low concerns when it comes to safety. They are raised to be strong, tough, and ready to tackle any challenge, so the sense of adventure in them often overpowers any uneasy feelings regarding safety.
When a man becomes a father, everything changes. According to BeingTheParent.com, men only realize the value of safety and comfort at an extreme level once they have a new baby to take care of. You may find your husband to be more likely to double check the car seat, drive slower, and start tidying up the house more than you expected.
1 He’ll Gain A New Sense of Duty
Ask any dad and he’ll confirm that fatherhood changes a man. While that change looks different for each individual new dad, there is a sense of duty that reigns true across all new fathers.
According to a dad interviewed in Real Clear Life, it takes becoming a dad to realize how intensely another human can depend on you as a father. “I knew I was loved, but not this loved,” said Nicholas in his interview. Knowing a tiny human depends on you to keep them healthy, stable, and thriving will automatically create a new sense of duty in a man.