Motherhood brings an array of expected and unexpected changes in a woman’s body and life. But so does fatherhood to men. Have you noticed that new dads or dads-to-be start slowly going out of shape? Some speculate that this is one consequence of the man having found a mate to make a family with and having no reason to maintain his physics. Though this might have a grain of truth in it, there are other, biological factors that explain what is known as a dad bod.
- Testosterone levels drop. The reasons are not known to science, but it is believed that this is Nature’s way of keeping the man faithful to his partner. The drop in testosterone levels might last for up to 6 months after the baby is born.
- Rise in oxytocin levels: Research has shown that new dads experience a huge increase in oxytocin levels after interacting with their newborns. The increased oxytocin levels help them bond with their babies and make them emotionally responsive and protective.
Increased brain activity has been observed in new dads after the arrival of the infant. Here are some of the reasons for this.
- Increased gray matter in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus has many functions but one thing it is responsible for is…sensitivity. Thus, increased gray matter in the hypothalamus makes new fathers more affectionate, responsible, and adept at multitasking.
- Growth of the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for brain functions like planning and memory. In addition, the neurons in this region have more receptors for the hormone vasopressin that helps to strengthen the bond between father and child.
Hormonal and neurological changes, naturally lead to changes in behavior and habits.
- Unintentional overeating. This starts during pregnancy when dads-to-be empathetically start adopting the eating habits of their pregnant mates. And continues after the baby is born leading to weight gain and shaping the so-called dad bod.
- Higher patience levels. Lowered testosterone levels tend to make fathers more patient and nurturing.
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If you’ve just become a father or are on your way to becoming one, you’re bound to experience a number of physical and mental changes. You are likely to become more nurturing and affectionate because of reduced testosterone and increased oxytocin levels. You may also become more emotionally responsive and develop parenting skills.