Study shows morning sickness affects expectant fathers too

Stock image.
Stock image.

WHAT men everywhere have long suspected has been proven true: the morning sickness which affects expectant mothers has a knock-on effect for the dad-to-be too.

New research from Edith Cowan University examined the experience of 300 expectant couples and found more support was needed for the partners of women experiencing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

The research was published in The Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology and aimed to gauge expectant fathers’ awareness of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy experienced by their partners and the affect it had on the dads themselves.

The study found 82 per cent of fathers were aware that their partner experienced morning sickness.

Of these, 20 per cent reported no nausea or vomiting, 30 per cent experienced mild symptoms, 37 per cent moderate and 13 per cent severe.

The partners of all 11 women formally diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, reported the nausea and vomiting was severe.

Researchers asked expectant fathers about their partners’ condition and their own mental health and found a significant increase in dads’ anxiety levels.

Lead researcher Julie Sartori from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences said although there was some support available for pregnant women during pregnancy, the fathers were often left to fend for themselves.

“The study showed that in families where the mother experienced moderate or severe morning sickness, fathers reported much higher levels of anxiety,” she said.

That anxiety was linked to five major themes in the research: disruption to work, feelings of frustration, concern over their partners’ mental health, concern for the developing baby and a sense of being manipulated.

In the latter instances, men were able to recognise that their partner was sick some also expressed negative thoughts associated with the increased demands placed on them at this time.

Mrs Sartori said fathers could benefit from support.

“There needs to be an active approach from medical practitioners and antenatal care providers, towards expectant fathers in cases where morning sickness is moderate or severe,” she said.

“Professionals would normally focus on the wellbeing of pregnant women, however engaging the father as well may help relieve reported anxiety and improve outcomes in the long term.

“Pregnancy, particularly the first, are tumultuous times for many families and the more help we can offer fathers in this situation, the better for his new family.

“Prenatal support for expectant fathers is vital. This can have a flow on effect for his family during and after pregnancy and allow for positive parental bonding.”