You never forget the moment you first hold your child.
A Notre Dame study looked into just how important that moment is for fathers.
The study involved almost 300 fathers in South Bend.
The researchers tested a dad’s hormone levels both before and after they first held their new baby.
It turns out that initial response can predict what kind of dad they’ll be down the road.
Twins Moria and Aoife have made Gabriel Foster a happy first-time dad.
“Kids are all cute, but these are my kids. It’s important for me to be here and it was really special to be with my own kids. It’s a special experience. It was really great to be able to bond with them early and sort of meet them,” said Foster.
Memorial Hospital is designed to allow parents to have close contact with their newborns.
A new Notre Dame study backs up this idea.
“It’s one thing to feel like you’re doing the right thing and to believe that this early contact with their parents is important to babies. It’s another thing to have the data to back it up and be able to tell the rest of the world, this is the way to do things not just because it feels good but because we have the science to support it,” said Dr. Robert White, director of regional newborn program.
Researchers at Notre Dame took saliva samples from almost 300 dads at Memorial.
They found dads had higher levels of certain hormones when first holding their child and those higher levels predicted higher rates of care-giving a few months down the road.
“I think we tend in our culture to think of dads as kind of along for the ride as mothers are going through all these biological changes, but this work and other work that we’ve done shows that dad’s bodies can respond and it has implications for kind of the type parenting behaviors that they’re going to do,” said Dr. Lee Gettler, assistant professor of anthropology.
Foster gets to bring his girls home Tuesday.
While he didn’t participate in the study, he is certainly feeling all kinds of emotions.
“Overwhelming. It’s very exciting, but it’s also kind of a daunting thing,” said Foster.
The researchers say the next question they want to answer is exactly how these hormone changes shape a dad’s future behavior.