You’re having a baby: mixed reactions in early pregnancy

For some men, the news that their partner is pregnant can bring about a mix of feelings – some positive, some not so positive. You could feel panic, shock or numbness at first.

It’s not 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 – 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

Keen but cautious

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 ‘keen but cautious’.

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 is going ahead.

In this case, you have nine months to get your head around a major but unwanted change in your life. To start with, you could take some steps to learn more about becoming a dad.

But just reading and thinking probably won’t be enough. Have a conversation with someone you can trust, like a friend or your GP, or ring a MensLine counsellor on 1300 789 978 to talk about your concerns or 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 trying to ‘fix it’ straight away.
  • If your partner is upset that you’re not getting into the pregnancy, tell her that you’re ‘keen but cautious’, if that’s how you feel.
  • If you’re very unsure about your situation, talk with someone you can trust or ring a MensLine counsellor on 1300 789 978.
  • Read more information to help you reflect on what being a dad means to you.