You're having a baby: mixed reactions in early pregnancy
For some men, the news that you're going to be a dad can bring about a mix of feelings - some positive, some not so positive. You could feel panic, anxiety, shock or numbness at first.
It isn't wrong to feel this way - there might be reasons for these reactions, or you might just need time to adjust. Most men get into it eventually, but it might not feel real until your baby is born. This is when you can actually get involved and start being a dad.
'Left out' at pregnancy appointments
Some of your experiences with pregnancy services might not be what you expect.
Although services are getting better at including men in antenatal care, sometimes the system forgets that men are interested and want to be part of things. It's easy to feel invisible if a health professional talks as if your partner is the only one expecting a baby.
I was numbed by the experience… it was all a big shock. We thought, 'This will take a while. Let's just start, go off the pill and see what happens'. She was pregnant within about a week or something.
- Ron, father of two
Not getting excited about the pregnancy - yet
You might be waiting to make it past the 12-week scan that checks whether your baby is OK before you let yourself get into the pregnancy.
Many people 'go public' with the news of the pregnancy at 12 weeks. Others wait until the 20-week scan. If you're waiting to clear these checks before you let your excitement show, it might look like you're not interested in the pregnancy. In this case, you could reassure your partner by telling her that you're happy about the pregnancy but you want to know everything is OK before you get too excited.
When I was told we were expecting two sons, I wanted to hit the obstetrician! The next reaction was, 'Oh my god, I'm going to have to sell my car!' At the end of the day, that was a dose of 'step up to the plate' for me as well.
- Callum, father of twins
Really not into the pregnancy
Perhaps the pregnancy is unplanned - perhaps you don't want the pregnancy at all - but the mother has decided to go ahead.
This is a very difficult situation, and it's normal to have strong emotions. It's good to take some time to think about what you're feeling. It can also help to learn more about becoming a dad.
If you're no longer in a relationship with the mother, it's usually best for your child if you can still be involved. It might help to learn more about co-parenting.
But just reading and thinking probably won't be enough. Have a conversation with someone you can trust, like a friend, family member or your GP, or ring MensLine on 1300 789 978 to talk about your situation. It's a free, confidential service.
Things you can do
- If you have mixed feelings about the pregnancy, try talking to other dads and expectant dads as a way of getting your head around the change.
- Accept what you're feeling rather than ignoring it or trying to 'fix it'.
- If your partner is upset that you're not getting into the pregnancy, reassure her if you can.
- Discuss with your partner about how you can get involved in the pregnancy. For example, you can attend pregnancy appointments and scans.
- If you're very unsure about your situation, talk with someone you can trust or ring MensLine on 1300 789 978.
- Read more information to help you reflect on what being a dad means to you.