Dads’ hormones change, too, during pregnancy

Although men may not be aware of it, they actually undergo hormonal changes as they prepare for fatherhood, says neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, author of The Male Brain (Broadway Books, $24.99), released in March.

At first, those hormones tell them to panic, or at least pay attention.

Levels of a stress hormone called cortisol — the same ancient chemical that instructs men to fight or take flight — tend to spike about four to six weeks after men learn they’re going to be fathers, subsiding as the mother’s pregnancy progresses, Brizendine says.

“It is a cortisol surge that wakes our brains up every morning,” Brizendine says. “So this surge may put the father-to-be’s brain on alert and in a sense wake him up to the impending reality of a new baby’s coming, and alert him that he’d better get things ready.”

About three weeks before the baby arrives, levels of testosterone — sometimes called the “male hormone,” associated with competitiveness, aggression and sex drive — fall by roughly a third, Brizendine says.

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