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Dads need prenatal care too, finds MU study

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Prenatal care for dads

Pregnancy can be stressful for future moms, but what about dads?

A University of Missouri study shows expectant dads need prenatal care to alleviate the stress of pregnancy that can affect infant and maternal health.

ManSoo Yu, assistant professor in MU’s Public Health Program says, “Too often, men are treated as observers of the pregnancy process. “

He says it’s important to address the dad’s well-being during pregnancy so they can remain proactive, ultimately leading to better pregnancy health outcomes.

Pregnancy stressors different for men

Notably, expectant men get more emotional support from their pregnant partners, while men seem to recognize the importance of helping with tasks.

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Men are better at processing financial needs and family problems during pregnancy, whereas women perceive them as emotional stressors.

Yu says, “For example, men could write budgets to alleviate financial stress and women can seek counseling to understand emotional stressors. Men and women can discuss and learn about potential stressors to become better partners and improve the health of each other and their infant.”

A finding from the MU study, which included psychological evaluation of 32 expectant mothers and fathers to measure stress levels, self-esteem and partner support, was that women have more self-esteem than men during pregnancy.

The finding is important because substance abuse is more likely for men who are overwhelmed during pregnancy and may be self-critical.

The novel study shows the importance of prenatal care for men who the authors say face unique stresses during a partner’s pregnancy that can impact health and well-being of mother and infant. Prenatal care is as important for men as it is for expectant moms.

Journal of Advanced Nursing: DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05628.x
“Unique perspectives of women and their partners using the Prenatal Psychosocial Profile Scale”
ManSoo Yu et al.