Taking care of body and mind is important to enjoy fatherhood fully. See tips from experts from conception to the puerperium.
The woman gets a doll to “take care” as a child, starts going to the gynecologist in her teens, is constantly asked whether or not she will have children as an adult and, as soon as she becomes pregnant, undergoes sudden changes that physically present motherhood. For men, sexual health is hardly even a topic of discussion. The construction of paternity is usually in the imagination. It only materializes when a child is already in his arms.
This scenario has changed in recent years, but stereotypes still hinder the care for man’s physical and emotional health. For many years there was a view that the mother was responsible for raising children and domestic routines, so the man moved away from this universe, and the guidelines are still very much focused on women.
As having a child for them also brings new emotions and responsibilities, the ideal would be to prepare psychologically and physically for that moment.
Before you get pregnant
The responsibility for the success of the pregnancy is very much on the mother, but it shouldn’t be like that anymore. Men’s health influences conception and should be treated with care by the trying couple.
In fact, some measures increase the chances of getting pregnant. The first is to control risk factors for infertility, such as obesity, disease, and chronic stress. A woman needs to take folic acid before becoming pregnant for the fetus to develop properly, but experts do not recommend any extra vitamins or nutrients for men in general.
The use of supplements for fertility is very controversial, they should be restricted to specific cases. In addition to conception itself, the health of sperm can interfere with successful pregnancy. Men who smoke, for example, have a higher risk of complications.
Another point to be considered is the age of having children. Man produces gametes, which are reproductive cells, his whole life, but it is known that, at around 45, the risk of damage to the genetic material of sperm is increased, which in turn increases the incidence of certain diseases, especially neurological disorders, in the baby.
You can’t do anything specific to slow down the weather, but the fact of being older is also not a sentence of negative events in pregnancy and the baby’s health. It is worth remembering that environmental factors, such as pollution, poor diet, and physical inactivity, can also interfere with the health of sperm – which reinforces the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
For men over 40, a warning. Testosterone replacement treatments, which are offered around this age group to improve fertility and other promises, are being made in men who do not need and are not recommended. The hormone actually has the opposite effect and acts as a contraceptive.
The man already feels that he will be a father, but he tends only to fulfill this role with physical contact with the baby, while the woman already feels the physiological changes of the pregnancy.
Some factors, such as having a bad personal history in this regard – an absent father, for example – can affect the man’s contact with his own fatherhood.
In this case, the influence can be both negative, due to the lack of reference on how to act as a father, but also positive, since it may be that he wants to do things differently and be more present. If the problem is a lack of example, today, there are courses focused on men, their role in childbirth, and baby care.
Half excluded from the debates about raising children, man tends not to ask a lot of questions. Exchanging stickers with other men who are parents can help. Getting involved in prenatal consultations, exams, buying layettes, and other details of the baby’s arrival help to realize the notion of fatherhood.
When the child is born, the puerperium begins, an intense period for the woman, who may have her mental health shaken by such radical changes in the routine and the demands of the newborn. The father is left out of care such as breastfeeding, but he can contribute in the surroundings, in the housework, offer emotional support to the mother and organize himself to be more present in this phase.
The arrival of the baby, especially if it is the first, is a troubled period for the whole house, full of news and emotions, so today, there is even talk of postpartum depression. “Unfortunately, there is still a lot of pressure for the man to take care of everything, do not talk about feelings, and do not suffer, which can favor the appearance of a depressive condition,” comments Mariana.
The United States’ Center for Disease Control estimates that up to 10% of parents can be affected by the problem.
Among them, the lack of knowledge on the subject, the same stereotype cited by Mariana that it is necessary to be “tough” and the difficulty of expressing so many emotions that arise in the postpartum period: exhaustion, incapacity, loneliness, feeling trapped, and the lack of sleep, which can exacerbate depressive symptoms. Precisely because of so many taboos involving masculinity, it can be difficult to catch male depression.
In men, it usually manifests itself with abrupt changes in behavior, changes in sleep, appetite, decreased desire to do activities that were once pleasurable, distancing from close people and their own child. If these signs are intense and persistent, ideally, seek help.
Depression and anxiety are treatable issues, and every family wins when suffering is not hidden under the rug.