COLUMBIA, 6/17/11 (Beat Byte) -- University of Missouri public health professor ManSoo Yu (left) is a father at heart. He often appears with his children in local news stories, flying a kite at Douglass Park for instance, or signing up for Kindergarten, so it's no surprise he's empathetic to the needs of dads.
Yu recently found that pregnancy-related stress uniquely affects the health of expectant fathers, and he suggests prenatal counseling and assessments for fathers to reduce stressors and promote positive pregnancy outcomes.
The importance of psychological and social factors in pregnant women is well documented, but few studies have examined these factors in men. To better understand men's emotions during pregnancy, Yu gave the Prenatal Psychosocial Profile (PPP) to 132 expectant mothers and fathers. A standard assessment, the PPP is typically given only to expectant mothers.
Fathers-to-be process pregnancy differently, Yu found, worrying more about financial stressors, whereas mothers-to-be consider pregnancy-related change as emotional stressors. But each perspective is equally important to the health of the new arrival.
“Providing prenatal care for expectant fathers can encourage men to have a proactive role in pregnancy, which will allow for better maternal and infant health outcomes," said Yu, assistant professor in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. “Too often, men are treated as observers of the pregnancy process."
For practitioners counseling expectant parents, Yu suggests that men "could write budgets to alleviate financial stress." Yu also found that women had higher self esteem than men during pregnancy, and suggests finding ways "to minimize men’s self-criticism about their abilities. In the study, substance abuse was associated with emotional stress among men."
Yu's research was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.