Biology of a Father

The many ways that a woman's biology changes when she becomes pregnant are obvious. Having a child changes a woman mentally and physically. What many people often do not think about is the many ways that having a baby also changes a father. Not only does a man's mental state change when he becomes a father, but his body goes through some biological shifts, optimizing his abilities as a father. In an article by the New York Times, anthropologist Dr. Anna Machin discusses these changes. She reports that after the birth of his first child, a father's body experiences a dip in testosterone. Not only does this drop in testosterone encourage the father to focus inward and protect his wife and child, it is also believed to trigger the release of the important bonding hormones oxytocin and dopamine. Unlike in women, these hormones peak when fathers are spending quality time playing with their children. In mothers, oxytocin and dopamine peak when they are nurturing. There are also observable differences occurring in the brain. Machin writes: "For moms, regions closer to the core of the brain which enable them to care, nurture and detect risk were most active. But for dads, the parts that shone most brightly were located on the outer surface of the brain, where higher, more conscious cognitive functions sit, such as thought, goal orientation, planning and problem solving." To listen to a podcast about how having kids changes men, click HERE.