During the transition to parenthood, both men and women experience hormone changes that are thought to promote parental care. Yet very few studies have explicitly tested the hypothesis that prenatal hormone changes are associated with postpartum parenting behavior. In a longitudinal study of 27 first-time expectant couples, we assessed whether prenatal hormone changes were moderated by self- and partner-reported parenting outcomes at 3 months postpartum. Expectant fathers showed prenatal declines in testosterone and estradiol, and larger declines in these hormones were associated with greater contributions to household and infant care tasks postpartum. Women whose partners showed larger testosterone declines also reported receiving more support and more help with household tasks. Expectant mothers showed prenatal increases in testosterone and estradiol, and larger increases in these hormones were associated with lower partner-rated support. Together, our findings provide some of the first evidence that prenatal hormone changes may indeed be functional and that the implications of these changes may be detectable by co-parents.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Developmental Biology
- Behavioral Neuroscience