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How the First Year of Fatherhood Changed My Body, According to 13 Men

The first year of fatherhood changes men — and, often, it changes their bodies

As a new father, your body is in for a roller coaster ride of fluctuating chemicals, changing emotions, and spontaneous new skills. While your body doesn’t endure nearly the same strain as your wife’s or partner’s, the first year of fatherhood is as much a physical challenge as it is an emotional one. For some men, the transition to dad-hood resulted in a bit more weight and a bit less hair; for others, it signaled that they need to take much better care for themselves. In any case, becoming a dad brings with it some significant changes. Here, 13 men share how their bodies changed.

I Became Extremely Sensitive.

“Whenever I would get a ‘break’ from looking after my son – like when my wife would be in another room with him, or she’d be outside while I was inside – I was completely tuned in to his voice. It was like I had a baby monitor in my brain. I would dart across the house because I’d ‘hear’ him whimpering, when there was no way I could’ve actually heard him. It must’ve been a ‘sixth sense’ thing. I could hear just the faintest giggle and rush into the other room like, ‘What’d I miss?!’” – Tye, 36, Ohio

I Got Dumber. Seriously.

“I could feel myself losing brain cells almost every hour I was awake with a crying baby. I would go into work the next day, and it would take me like three hours just to ‘boot up’ my brain. Luckily, no one noticed (laughs), but I was genuinely concerned. I felt like one of those smart kids from high school who goes to college, parties too hard, and comes out dumber than when he went in. Once the baby started getting into his routine, I was able to recoup some of that lost brainpower, but it was a real struggle for a long time.” – Mark, 34, Florida

I Lost My Hair Immediately.

“I started losing my hair pretty young, but after my first year as a father I was completely bald. Maybe it was just a coincidence? I don’t think so, though. Our first year was really, really stressful. Our daughter was sick with asthma and allergy complications, so we had a lot of sleepless nights, stays in the hospital, and doctor visits. Emotional and physical stress can cause hair loss – at least, that’s what my doctor told me – so I’m chalking it up to that. Worth it, though, because I love my daughter, and I look better in hats.” – Neil, 38, California

I Gained a Lot of Weight.

“I gained 37 lbs in the year after my daughter was born. It was a combination of everything – lack of sleep, not exercising, lots of bad eating. The only thing I didn’t do a ton of, weirdly, was drink. I just didn’t have time. I suppose it makes sense, though. I was so concerned with my daughter’s health – and my wife’s, too – that I just deprioritized myself. That was a mistake, though. As I got more unhealthy, I became less able to contribute around the house. I got tired more quickly, couldn’t concentrate, and really just became a waste of space. It took me twice as long to lose the weight, too, because I was trying to do it while raising a now-one-year-old.” – Jason, 38, Ohio

I Got Into Better Shape.

“I took the birth of my son as a kick in the ass. I needed to get in better shape so that I could be there for my family. I started working out while my wife was pregnant, just so that I could have a routine ready to go when she had him. It worked, too. I was healthier – mentally and physically – than I’d been in a long time. And it helped! Taking care of our baby wasn’t easy, and I would’ve definitely struggled if I wasn’t in decent shape.” – Rick, 32, California

I Started Caring About My Own Health A Lot More.

“I just didn’t want to risk getting sick for the sake of my family, either getting them sick, too, or just being incapacitated. So, I went for checkups like every six weeks. ‘Are you sure everything is okay, doc? Is my throat supposed to feel like that? Is this twitch normal?’ Looking back, I probably wasted more time worrying about being sick than actually being sick. But, becoming responsible for a new baby makes you think about the time you’ve got left, and how you want to stay healthy for your family.” – Aaron, 39, Illinois

I Was Inexplicably Sore All the Time

“My body totally betrayed me when I became a father. I would wake up in the morning and just ache all over. For no reason! I carried our baby, rocked him to sleep, and all that stuff, but that couldn’t have been why. Right? I played sports in high school and college, and I swear it reminded me of days after games or tough practices. I’d wake up in the morning and hear weird creaks and pops in my joints, and stuff like that. It felt like I was falling apart!” – Sam, 37, Maryland

My Tolerance for Alcohol Went Way Down.

“When the baby came, I stopped drinking. It wasn’t a moral thing, really, just a time thing. Before the baby, I could hold my own. I used to go out drinking with my friends, and we used to go out drinking with other couples. But, after a year of not drinking, I never got it back. We went out once and I had, like, two rum and Cokes, got buzzed, and was hungover the next morning. It was like my tolerance reset itself to factory settings.” – Chris, 35, Indiana

I Developed Ridiculous Dad Reflexes

“I could catch things without looking, and was always thinking one step ahead of my baby. In that first year, I kept my baby from rolling off the couch at least three times, caught about three dozen bowls of baby food that got knocked off of the high chair, and got really good at noticing things that were about to fall. I could walk into a room and immediately sense that something wasn’t right. It would be something like a vase too close to the edge of the mantle, or a glass that still had water in it teetering on a table. My Spidey-sense tingled whenever those types of potential hazards were around.” – Jeff, 32, North Carolina

I Could Function on Little to No Sleep

“I’d say my wife and I each averaged about five hours of sleep per night after our new baby. So, when I went to work, I just had to suck it up. I’m sure it wasn’t healthy, but I didn’t have much of a choice. It took me about six months to be able to acclimate to our new schedule, but I did it. Don’t tell my boss, but I actually used to take mini power naps on the toilet. I’m sure there was a better way to manage my lack of sleep, but we both – my wife and I – did what we had to do to make it through each day, one at a time.”

I Nearly Lost My Gag Reflex.

“With a new baby comes a flood of bodily fluids and just this onslaught of terrible smells. There’s no time for wimps. You just have to get through the first month or so, and then nothing can faze you. It got to the point where I’d have a fresh pee stain on my shirt, or wouldn’t notice poop on my hands. It was disgusting. But, I had no idea what I was doing. Eventually, we both got the hang of it and, like I said, now nothing can faze us.” – Joseph, 33, West Virginia

I Became a Pro at Tip Toeing

“Waking a sleeping baby is practically a criminal offense in a peaceful household. I’m a big guy, so I wasn’t always great at creeping around during the middle of the night. But, with a new baby in the house, I had to learn. I started walking on the balls of my feet, which I’d never really done before, and actually held my breath whenever I had to walk by the baby’s room. I was a ninja. I knew where the creaky parts of the floor were, and which door hinges squeaked when they opened or closed – I used my entire body to make sure not one minute of the new baby’s sleep was interrupted.” – Leo, 38, Oregon

I Was Awkward Holding Every Baby Except for My Own

“Holding babies isn’t a universal thing. I didn’t know that until I became a father, and every other baby felt weird in my arms. With my son, I could just take him, and he’d naturally fit right into whatever position I was in. Sitting, standing, walking…it didn’t matter. It was just a natural thing. Any other baby, though, felt super awkward no matter how I held it. It wasn’t a bad feeling, just a ‘not as good’ feeling compared to holding my own son. No one noticed, but I could feel it. My body just responded a different way when it knew I was holding my own baby.” – Kurt, 33, Arizona