Expectant fathers can sometimes feel left out of the pregnancy experience. Moms-to-be get most of the attention, but an interesting study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, focused on how Dads felt the first time they saw their babies on ultrasound. Not surprisingly, fathers reported that seeing their baby’s image for the first time – live and in person – was a huge step in helping prepare them for parenthood while reassuring them the pregnancy was going well.
Believe it or not, a father’s feelings about the ultrasound have rarely been studied, and prior studies have looked at fathers in Europe or Australia. This U.S.-based study interviewed 22 expectant fathers in Michigan aged 23-41 years old, after they viewed a routine ultrasound at 16-20 weeks into pregnancy.
Researchers suggest that this special moment of connection offers healthcare providers a great opportunity to engage men and to promote and encourage positive partnering and parenting. University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Researcher Dr. Tova Walsh:
“While all our fathers felt the mothers were receiving good care, about half of them felt excluded or ignored and wished that providers would offer them more explanation and opportunity to ask questions during the appointment. Because so much previous research shows that mothers 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 healthcare of the mother and baby.”
Interestingly, it didn’t matter if the dads were first timers or veterans – the ultrasound experience was just as powerful – with reactions ranging from quiet excitement to euphoria:
“My heart started beating faster just to hear a life — boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. It just felt like — the feeling’s indescribable, I was just blown away, like my eyes filled up but it’s like I won’t cry, I just was so happy to hear it…. The heartbeat is like letting me know it’s on the way, get ready.”
The net-net for Dads? Seeing is believing.