The Emotional Journey of Expectant Fathers

Posted on: June 12, 2024 | Labor & Birth Father's Day

Dads, for Father’s Day this year, our gift to you is the normalization of your emotional journey through labor and the birth of your baby.

The changes going on in your pregnant partner and the roles and duties that lie ahead may be very challenging for you. As an expectant father it’s as important for you to navigate your feelings as it is for you to support your partner through navigating theirs.

As we celebrate Father’s Day this year, let’s remember the importance of normalizing and supporting the emotional experiences of fathers. By doing so, hopefully, it will foster a more empathetic understanding of fatherhood, one that honors the profound impact that fathers have on their children and their family as a whole.

The following are some very normal situations and circumstances that we want fathers to be aware of.

1. Anticipation and Anxiety: As your baby’s estimated due date approaches, you may be  experiencing a combination of excitement and anxiety. The anticipation of meeting your baby is thrilling, but the unpredictability that comes with labor and birth and what’s to come once the baby is here can be daunting. Many fathers are concerned about the health and well-being of their baby and their partner, and have some fear about being able to provide their partner with what they need during labor. ALL NORMAL!

2. Witnessing Birth: The moment of birth is profoundly emotional. Watching your partner experience the power of labor can evoke feelings of helplessness, awe, and profound respect. The intensity of the birthing process can leave soon-to-be fathers feeling overwhelmed, as they navigate the nuances between wanting to be helpful and recognizing the limits of what they can actually do. ALL NORMAL!

3. The First Encounter: Meeting your new baby for the first time is a a life-changing experience. We’re not sure if there is any real way to mentally prepare for how incredible it is! This experience can bring a flood of emotions—joy, relief, and an overwhelming sense of love and responsibility. While some fathers feel an instant connection, for others, it may take a little longer to feel the parent child bond form. ALL NORMAL!

4. Adjusting to Fatherhood: Transitioning from husband/partner to parent can sometimes come with some challenges. You may experience some stress and/or self-doubt as you begin to learn your baby’s cues and how to support your partner through the changes they are experiencing. Sleep deprivation, changes in your routine, and the pressure to get it all right can easily lead to frustration. ALL NORMAL!

As normal as these things all are, there are also stereotypes in place about what you are supposed to be… Things like stoic and emotionless come to mind here… To this say… Break those stereotypes by talking about your experience and leaning into the feelings. This is your experience too and it deserves to be great!