Ultrasounds forge baby bond for expectant dads
Expectant dads can feel left out of the process during much of the pregnancy. A new study points out, however, that seeing their child’s image on an ultrasound sets the stage for family bonding along with better partnering and parenting.
The study, published online in late April in the journal Fathering, found that the ultrasound was a life-changing moment for men as it made the child’s arrival much more real and also reassured them that the pregnancy was going well.
Men also found that they could easily reflect on their role as a father, which helped to prepare them psychologically for parenthood. The study revealed that the expectant fathers’ “plans and dreams extended beyond the immediate future of infancy and across the child’s lifespan.”
In fact, one study participant told the researchers, “Now that we know that it’s a girl, now I’m thinking about … walking her down the aisle someday … which is crazy, but … it’s like my brain went from bringing her into the world and taking care of her and making sure she is taken care of (as) to her future and everything.”
Researchers interviewed 22 participants in Michigan in 2010 who ranged in age from 23 to 41 years old with the average age being 31. Of that group, 16 were married and half were expecting their first child.
Peer encouragement from other dads was pivotal in encouraging them to choose to be present at the ultrasound. Even dads who were not first-timers still found the ultrasound experience to be very powerful, researchers found. The study revealed reactions that ranged from excitement to euphoria.
“My heart started beating faster just to hear a life—boom, boom, boom, boom. It just felt like—the feeling’s indescribable,” said one expectant father. “I was just blown away. The heartbeat is like letting me know it’s on the way, get ready,” he said.
“Because so much previous research shows that mother and babies benefit when fathers are positively involved and supportive during pregnancy, they should feel welcome at an event that is their first interaction with the health care of the mother and baby,” said lead study author Tova Walsh of Madison, Wisc.’s UW School of Medicine and Public Health in a statement.
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