CANBERRA, Australia (Reuters) – First-time fathers are more likely to put on weight and drink excessively during their partner's pregnancy than after the baby is born, according to the findings of a study by Australian researchers.
Researchers from the Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) in Adelaide found that men, on average, put on 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) during pregnancy. In addition, one in seven started to drink a dangerous amount of alcohol before the baby's birth to counteract stress. The 3-year study involved 312 men, 18 to 40 years of age, living in Sydney and Adelaide.
"This was surprising because it was expected that the fathers would be more likely to feel anxious after the baby was born than before," FMC researcher Carolyn Corkindale told Reuters.
"Men get stressed and depressed because they are not prepared for the changes to their lifestyle," Corkindale said. Also, "they have poor role models and are neglected during pregnancy."
The researchers found that 5.2% of men were depressed and anxious before the birth, declining to 3.7% when the baby was 1 year old. This mirrored the depression scores for women with 14.8% depressed after 23 weeks of pregnancy. These scores dropped to 8.9% when the baby was 1 year old.
A decline in sexual activity was cited as one of the main reasons for prenatal stress in men.