The Man’s Experience
An expectant father obviously does not experience the same physical sensations that a pregnant woman does (although occasionally a "pregnant father" reports psychosympathetic symptoms, such as the nausea or tiredness his partner is experiencing). However, the experiences of pregnancy and birth are often profound for the father. What exactly does the "male pregnancy" involve?
Like the woman, he often reacts with a great deal of ambivalence. He may feel ecstatic but also fearful about the woman’s and the baby’s well-being. It is common for a man to feel frightened about the impending birth and about whether he will be able to "keep it together." He may feel especially tender toward his partner and become more solicitous. At the same time, he may feel a sense of separateness from the woman because of the physical changes that only she is experiencing. However, prenatal ultrasonography allows fathers to see the fetus growing in the uterus and can create greater feelings of involvement (Sandelowski, 1994). Most men feel concern over the impending increase in financial responsibility. In all, the expectant father has special needs, as does his partner, and it is important that the woman be aware of these needs and be willing to respond to them.