When it comes to postpartum changes and adjustments, we rightly think first of the female body. With women growing and birthing children, they’re obviously going to experience the largest and most significant physical shifts during the newborn period. But, as scientists are increasingly discovering, men also undergo notable physical changes after a baby that may account for the fact that around 1 in 10 men also experiences postpartum depression (PPD) in the first year.
While it’s still vital to concentrate on the bodily shifts that women experience in this period, then, a total lack of support or understanding about what happens to dads needs addressing if we’re to ensure prime parental health on both sides. To get that ball rolling, we’re going to look at three surprising discoveries that are changing our thinking around the term ‘dad bods’.
# 1 – Testosterone takes a hit
Perhaps the most notable postpartum male change comes in a significant drop in testosterone (around 34% on average,) which is noted particularly at night in new fathers and sees them taking on more baby-related and household duties. However, while there are obvious nature-based benefits to these dips, conditions such as erectile issues and even depression can also arise as a result and need addressing if male health is to stay on the up.
Obviously, on a basic level, this means continuing to make ED treatment, therapy, and more available to men at every stage of life. Specifically, to new fatherhood, awareness of both the issue and the possible paths that men can take is especially important for ensuring parental health, and a happy newborn experience all around.
# 2 – Brain changes
As mentioned, as many as 1 in 10 men also experience PPD, and brain changes noted in fathers up to three months after birth are largely thought to be the cause. Incidentally, these changes mimic many of those that mothers experience, though perhaps this should hardly be surprising considering that modern parents largely share parenting stress, sleepless nights, etc. Still, silence around the subject means that many men ignore or push through these mental shifts without seeking support or truly understanding what’s to blame.
# 3 – In love with oxytocin
The oxytocin increases that are more commonly associated with new motherhood have also been noted in fathers shortly after birth. This love hormone enhances feelings of protectiveness and care and most often happens in mothers during nursing, comforting, etc. For men, however, playing with their children seems to be the secret ingredient to get that feel-good love rush going. As such, men looking to enhance their caregiver roles could undeniably benefit from not only understanding the other shifts mentioned, but also spending as much time as possible taking the helm with regards to playtimes and other such activities that enhance bonding and keep negative ‘dad bod’ changes at bay as much as possible.
Being a dad changes your outlook, but did you know that it quite literally changes the way your body functions as well?