Fifty years ago a father’s role was assumed to be clear: he went to work; he provided the pay cheque; and he acted as a disciplinarian when he got home.
But in 2018 a father’s role is much more fluid and complex.
And while every dad knows his life changes dramatically when he becomes a father what you might not know if your body does too.
Did you know your body undergoes a series of irreversible physical changes when your baby is born?
Just like a woman’s body changes and hormone balance alters so does a man’s when a child arrives.
In fact it is as big a change as when puberty hit.
Dr Anna Machin – an evolutionary anthropologist at Oxford University – has spent 10 years working with new dads to gain a unique scientific insight into what it is to be a father in the modern world.
Her new book ‘The Life Of Dad’, the result of that decade of research, shows how it’s not just new mums who undergo physiological changes.
And she appeared on the Daily Mirror’s First Time Dads podcast to explain just how remarkable those changes are.
You can listen to the full episode for free here:
Evolutionary anthropologist Dr Machin said: "The brain changes when you become a father and your personality and psychology change.
"When I looked at this 10 years ago the research seemed to suggest dads were dispensable and simply the discipline giver.
"That’s wrong. Human dads are really rare.
"I discovered evolution has prepared men to father.
"Men are as prepared as women are – they don’t get a pregnancy, a childbirth or breastfeeding but there are other ways.
"Your hormones are triggered to parent and your brain is changed.
"Before you become a father for the first time you are probably a bit selfish and your testosterone is quite high.
"You are a mating machine and it’s your job to go and find a partner to reproduce with.
"When you become a father that is actually a bit of a hindrance and you need to focus on your family rather than your outside life.
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"What happens to every man after he becomes a father is his testosterone drops and it never returns to where it was.
"But don’t panic because the lower your testosterone the better father you are. You are able to empathise with your child and read your child’s needs.
"The second thing that happens when your testosterone drops is the Oxytocin and dopamine levels climb meaning the reward hormones rise.
"You get a bigger reward for interact with your child."
This, says Dr Machin, has been proven by tests all over the world.
The third thing that happens concerns the structure of the brain.
Dr Machin told the Mirror’s First Time Dads podcast: "The same thing that happens to women happens to men.
"You get an increase in grey and white matter in the core of your brain which is where emotion is which makes you much more efficient at caring.
"And also on the outer bit of your brain which is where the bits related to empathy are. You need to understand what your baby needs so that bit gets bigger to help.
"There is this idea that mums are instinctive parents whereas in fact there is a bit of instinct but the rest you have to learn and mum and dads start from a level playing field.
"The message to dads is you are "meant", nature and evolution has created you for a reason."
The Life of Dad by Dr Anna Machin is out now .
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