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How A Father’s Pregnancy Stress Can Screw Up His Unborn Kid

flickr / See-ming Lee

It’s important to make sure your partner isn’t too stressed during pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean you should go around like some kind of Jason Statham character that requires anxiety in order to literally not explode. First of all, you can’t do your own stunts. Second of all, Crank: Prenatal would be a crappy film (maybe). Third of all, your stress levels during pregnancy may affect your kid after they’re born.

Flicker / aaayyymm eeelectriik

Flicker / aaayyymm eeelectriik

That last point is actually a pretty new insight. Norwegian researchers behind a 2013 study looked at the self-reported mental health status of expectant dads (but just around the 4-month mark of pregnancy, when shit starts getting REAL). They found that dads who reported higher levels of stress and anxiety were 11 percent more likely to have kids with emotional and behavioral problems that manifested by age 3.

Frankly, the researches had only guesses as to why this correlation would occur, but there were a couple possible mechanisms for stress to travel from father to kid. One thought was that a dad’s stress could easily influence stress level of the mother, affecting hormonal process that could influence fetal development. Another possibility was that dads affected by psychological distress before the baby was born would likely continue to have emotional distress in the postnatal period. That’s much more clearly a problem for early childhood development.

flickr / Ashley Webb

flickr / Ashley Webb

Other studies suggest that stressed out dads-to-be aren’t particularly rare. In fact, dads may show higher rates self-reported psychological prenatal distress. At the same time, it’s pretty clear that dads are rarely asked about their stress during pregnancy. The upshot? Take care of yourself, man!

Here are some ways to de-stress during pregnancy:

Take a Dad Class:
These are totally a thing! And they can help in several ways, including finding other dads to commiserate with and just feeling more knowledgeable about things like protecting the life that will be totally relying on you for everything.

Read Some Really Good Dad Books: 
There’s a certain dad-site you totally dig that just may have some incredible suggestions. These books will, give you a bit of time and quiet with your own thoughts (you know, not in front of the sequel to Cranked) and actually teach you something that’ll make you more confident.

Join Her In Some Heavy Breathing: 
Exercise! What were you thinking? A little activity, like joining her in some prenatal yoga or chill outdoor walks can get your endorphins going and lower stress levels for both of you.

Just Talk: 
Seriously. Your best option might just be to find someone you trust. Someone strong and stoic and helpful, like Jason Statham, or maybe just an actual professional. Talking through what’s stressing you out is good for you. And it’ll be good for your kid.

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