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Is it common for men to experience anxiety and insecurity about starting a family?

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Dr. Aarti Abraham

OBGYN

Practicing since :1998

Answered : 6009 Questions

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Posted on Fri, 8 Feb 2013 in Anxiety and Stress
Question: Is it common for men to experience serious anxiety about starting a family ? My partner and I have been together for seven years and are in a loving and committed relationship. We are both successful in our careers and have even purchased two properties in our time together. We are very close and love and enjoy each other very much. We had planned to start a family this year. I've been for my pre baby checkups, have been taking prenatal vitamins for about four months, we've even shared the news with some family and close friends but now that the time has actually come to do the deed he is completely freaking out. He says he’s worried that we’re not financially stable enough, about whether he will hate being a dad, about not being able to travel as much or enjoy things that he would of otherwise, that our relationship will change, that he'll lose his social life and friends, the list goes on... The thing is we are smart, financially savvy and in love. I know things will change but I also think this will be the most fulfilling thing either of us have ever done. I also know that he will make the most amazing father. He has a true sense of duty, he’s hardworking, tender and fun but I can tell that this really scares him. It‘s scared him to a point that he could barely go through with the first "test run" and has refused to have unprotected sex since. How do I talk him off the ledge and also let him know that it's okay to be really really freaked out, that he's not alone in feeling that way but that we will be okay and that sharing this and starting the family we’ve talked about will enrich our lives even more and will blow his mind in so many amazing ways. Are there any books that we can turn to for some help?
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Answered by Dr. Aarti Abraham 1 hour later
Hello
Thanks for trusting us with your query.
Yes, it is indeed common for men to experience anxiety and insecurity about starting a family. In fact, as male emotions are repressed, and rarely expressed, they are more prone to depression, anxiety and latent emotional problems.

There's a good reason most pregnancy books, magazines and even television programs are targeted at women: They are the ones having the babies. But pregnancy can be a transforming experience for expectant fathers, too. The prospect of becoming a dad can generate strong feelings, including XXXXXXX excitement and, sometimes, anxiety.

Several factors can cause pregnancy anxiety for men, but a study published in 2007 in "Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice about Men as Fathers" suggests that a man's own childhood plays a significant role. In the study, which examined the effects of pregnancy on 152 couples, men who had very strong or very distant relationships with their own parents were less likely to feel anxious about becoming fathers. Not surprisingly, men who believed their fathers had done a good job parenting felt more confident--and less anxious--about their own parenting abilities.

Men who are anxious before pregnancy may be more prone to depression after their child is born, which can have serious consequences, suggests a study published in 2006 in the "Medical Journal of Australia." Researchers led by XXXXXXX J. Fletcher state that postpartum paternal anxiety or depression increases the risk that a child will have behavioral or emotional problems. Paternal anxiety may also increase a new mother's risk for postpartum depression or exacerbate existing depression issues, according to the study.

Armin Brott, author of the McClatchy-Tribune's "Ask Mr.Dad" column and of the book "The Expectant Father," said in a 2007 column for the "Los Angeles Times" that the best thing expectant dads can do to quell their anxiety is to get social support in the form of other expectant or new dads.

A first step could be to get him to talk about it , and if an open discussion is not happening, you could write down your concerns and similarly ask him to express himself in writing, if he cannot be vocal about your concerns.

It would be a good idea, to enlist common friends or family members, and encourage such get togethers, so that he subconsciously realizes the charm and security of a family of one's own.

Let him interact with couples who have children, and are still very much in love, and continue to have a fulfilling social life.

A very concrete step would be to go for couple counselling and seek professional help, as that would help him unravel his fears and insecurities and embrace the idea of becoming a father.

Let him also speak to a gynecologist / infertility specialist who would also convince him that with the problem of polycystic ovaries, conception is generally not very easy or fast, and you would also need time to conceive, once you actually start planning.

It would be a good idea to mail him links that contain material on how to deal with such anxiety issues. Also, it includes feedback from men who have " been there, done that " - dealt with such issues successfully to become happy fathers. Ask him to enroll in blogs that address similar issues. Do not nag, or be negative, remember that men will be boys till they have a few of their own , and even after that sometimes !!!!
Am pasting some links here for your perusal, which include content that he would enjoy going through :

WWW.WWWW.WW
WWW.WWWW.WW
WWW.WWWW.WW
http://fatherlystuff.blogspot.in/2012/02/addressing-common-pregnancy-fear-will-i.html

WWW.WWWW.WW

Also, links for a few books as you had requested :

WWW.WWWW.WW
WWW.WWWW.WW
Am sure since you are two such wonderful people, you would soon overcome this small hitch.

Hope I have managed to be of some help to you !
Take care, and am always open for further discussions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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